Sean Hannity couldn’t care less what you think.
“Whatever chip you’re supposed to have that actually gives a s–t what people say, I don’t have it,” said Hannity, the lightning-rod conservative commentator and face of Fox News. “I don’t live my life based on what people say.”
In a wide-ranging interview with The Post ahead of his 25-year anniversary with Fox News on Oct. 7, Hannity, 59, revealed that he has even more in common with his friend and former president, Donald Trump, long described as “Teflon Don.” Hannity doesn’t go to bed at night crying over the criticisms regularly heaped on him or calls for boycotts of his advertisers. “It’s amazing to me that there are so many people in this industry who can’t take a punch. They can dish it out, but they can’t take it.”
And Hannity has taken plenty of punches.
For the past 25 years hosting his 9 p.m. program — first called “Hannity & Colmes,” which he co-hosted with the late Alan Colmes for 12 years, and then on his namesake program — Hannity is the longest-running current cable news host. He is arguably the most influential conservative voice in the country, and one of the biggest targets of progressives.
But Hannity’s road to revered rabble-rouser was atypical.
Though he rakes in a reported $25 million a year from Fox News, according to a 2020 Forbes report, it’s a long way from his humble Long Island roots. He was one of four kids born to a county corrections officer mother who worked 16-hour shifts and a court officer dad whose idea of prepping gourmet lunches for school was bologna on Wonder Bread.
He hustled early in life, starting a newspaper route at age 8, and went on at age 12 to work in restaurants for the next ten years, saving enough money to get him through two years of college — one at Adelphi, one at NYU. After the money ran out, he spent a decade toiling in construction. “It was 20 years of my life I did really hard work,” he said. “I never forget that I’ve done the real work in life and know how hard things really can be.”
Eventually he found his way to local radio. But finding his voice as a conservative commentator didn’t come easily.
“It develops over time. It’s not like a light goes on and you find your own way of doing and saying things,” he said, comparing his early days in the late ’80s to Howard Stern’s character’s foray into radio in the movie “Private Parts.” “You try to sound like a radio guy. And meanwhile you sound like a dork novice trying to sound like a radio guy.”
After he left his radio gig in Huntsville, Ala., for Atlanta in the early ’90s, a local newspaper editorial read, “Goodbye to the talk show host from hell.” Atlanta media wasn’t won over either. After four years in the city, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper’s year-end edition said, “1996 was a great year. The Olympics came and Sean Hannity left.”
For the radio host, it was a badge of honor.
“I still have a copy.”
When Fox News premiered on Oct. 7, 1996, Hannity didn’t expect it to last long. “I’m surprised they didn’t fire me. I was God awful when I first started. I was terrible,” recalled Hannity, noting his first review by Newsday’s Verne Gay. “He said, ‘Alan Colmes looks funereal and Sean Hannity has a bad haircut and has no business being on TV.’ ”
But he did catch someone’s attention: Donald Trump.
“I got to really know him when I started at Fox,” Hannity said. “He didn’t even come on my late-night radio show at the time. We just kind of hit it off.
“There’s been a lot of speculation about my relationship with the president. Nobody has ever gotten it right,” said Hannity, teasing, “And I’m not going to tell them.”
A 2018 New York magazine article reported that the two spoke nearly every night and that Hannity was on a small list of callers who had a direct channel to the president at the White House.
“Every reporter [would say], ‘Well, you talk to the president regularly . . .’ and I would say, ‘How do you know who I talk to?’”
Still, the two share a similar work ethic.
“I think I work harder now than I ever did. I find ways to work harder and smarter,” he said, adding that after his show wraps at 10 p.m., he grabs a bite to eat, only to plunge himself into more research for the next day, before going to bed at 3 or 4 a.m. Like his friend, he’s not big on sleep. “I sleep about four or five hours maybe.”
There’s no such thing as a slow morning, either. “I get up in the morning and do a hard workout with mixed martial arts,” he said of the 90-minute workouts at least four days a week, which include grappling, punching, kicking and hitting. “I live like a Marine all week long. It’s pretty intense.”
It’s a balance for Hannity, who has no patience for social media nowadays.
“I’ve kind of given up on these platforms,” said Hannity, who added that he lost the password for his Twitter account. “I’ve kind of pulled away from it because it’s gotten so toxic. I just don’t have time for it.”
While he’s made plenty of enemies along the way, Hannity insisted politics doesn’t bleed into his personal life. “I don’t let politics get in the way of my friendships. Other people do, I don’t. I don’t care if you’re a liberal — I’ll argue with you in good fun over a beer or glass of wine and that’s the end of that.”
And there have been sacrifices, he said.
“I’ve got two great kids. I don’t talk a lot about my family. I keep them out of my business,” said Hannity, whose divorce from Jill, his wife of more than 20 years, was reported last year. They have two grown children, son Sean Patrick and daughter Merri Kelly.
“The hours were hard, but I’m very proud of the people they are and I’m grateful they’re not in the public eye — and I’d like to keep them there.”
Even though he hasn’t revealed on air whether or not he’s been vaccinated, Hannity insisted critics who call him anti-science couldn’t be more wrong.
“I’m so fascinated with science and medicine,” he said, adding, “It doesn’t matter how many times I tell people on air that I believe in science and the science of vaccination. I was one of the earliest conservatives to say I don’t mind wearing a mask.”
Meanwhile, he has no plans to slow down. “With the show, we’ve had this incredible ride of being number one for all these years. I have no plans to stop doing what I’m doing,” he said. “If my career ended tomorrow, I’ve been blessed beyond what I deserve. I just love doing what I’m doing.”
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