When he finally went to bed early in the morning on Oct. 2, Sean Hannity had a good sense, as he typically does, of how he would structure that night’s Fox News Channel broadcast. He’d lead with Puerto Rico, and a defense of the administration’s hurricane relief efforts, before moving on to the players who continued to kneel during the national anthem before games. But by the time he woke up, a few hours later — Hannity rarely sleeps more than four hours a night, a trait he shares with his friend — the screen of his iPhone was jammed with alerts of a shooting in downtown Las Vegas, where a man named Stephen Paddock had opened fire on the attendees of a country-music festival. Dozens were dead, hundreds injured. “What the hell is going on?” Hannity recalls thinking.
In his morning call with his senior executive producer at Fox, Porter Berry, and his executive producer, Tiffany Fazio, he suggested a rewrite of the opening monologue, a six-to-seven-minute riff that he sees as the most important part of the show. On Twitter, he told the producers, he’d noticed many liberals calling for increased gun control. He wanted to center his monologue on a theme he frequently returns to on Fox and on his syndicated daily radio show, which reaches approximately 13.5 million Americans: Why was it that liberals always used tragedies to further their own political ends? To make the segment really hum, he would need material to react to — Hannity’s most effective segments are oppositional — and Berry and Fazio agreed to start digging.