An on-air call from conservative radio host Sean Hannity to the Obamacare hotline on Monday got a kind but talkative operator fired, and so to make up for it, a contrite Hannity decided to pay the women's expected $25,000 yearly salary. This is a double p.r. coup for Hannity — he gets a scoop on Obamacare and a chance to present himself as a big-hearted man of the people.
On Monday, Erling Davis, a mother of two and an operator working for the insurance exchange hotline, answered Hannity's questions about the problems with the Healthcare.gov rollout and the hotline. In their 10 minutes of conversation on the radio, Hannity touched on all the problems with Obamacare, and got some information out of Davis:
HANNITY: Have you ever got anybody that really likes it yet?
OPERATOR: Umm, no, not really.
Mediaite wrote on Monday that Hannity "asked her questions that could possibly put her job on the line." Indeed, Davis came on Hannity's show again on Thursday to say that, in fact, she had been fired for speaking to the press after that interview. Hannity said he felt pretty guilty for causing her firing: "First of all, I'm very sorry that you had to go through that. Especially because you were really nice, you were very kind, you were very honest, and I don't want you to have to pay a price just for taking our phone call and their being punitive in some way, so I want to help you out here."
So, Hannity did what any wealthy pundit would do; he talked to his accountant, who told him that he could legally gift Davis $25,000. "That's a year's salary tax free. So you don't have to pay taxes on that money," Hannity said. "Check with your accountant though, or check with your financial guy or whoever you talk to, whoever does your taxes, H&R, whatever." Those mothers of two making $25,000 a year — always on the phone with their financial guys!
You can't blame Hannity for being a little out of touch with the little guy, even as he fights so hard for them with his punditry. Hannity just re-signed his radio contract — his old one was worth $100 million over five years.
Financial guy or no, Davis was certainly happy. "I thank God for you and your crew and everybody that's listening," she said. "This is really a blessing, I wasn't expecting all of this." Hannity also offered to help her get a job, but almost scuttled her hopes at the same time. "It seems unfair to me. Do you feel that they treated you unfairly? I kind of do," Hannity said.
This time, smartly, Davis avoided the question.