Hannity Sparks Backlash After Airing Biden's Private Voicemail amid Son Hunter's Addiction Battle
Teresa Kroeger/Getty Images Hunter (left) and Joe Biden
Sean Hannity unintentionally put himself in the hot seat when his attempt to embarrass Joe Biden quickly backfired.
On Monday's episode of Hannity, the conservative Fox News host aired a private voicemail that the now-president left for his son Hunter Biden in 2018. In the message, first obtained by DailyMail.com, Biden expresses both love and concern for Hunter, who was battling substance abuse addiction at the time.
"It's Dad. I'm calling to tell you I love you. I love you more than the whole world, pal," Biden says, sounding emotional. "You gotta get some help. I don't know what to do. I know you don't either."
RELATED: Hunter Biden Opens Up About Joe Biden Intervening During Drug Addiction: 'He Just Cried'
Drew Angerer/Getty President Joe Biden embraces first lady Dr. Jill Biden and kids after inauguration
Hunter, now 52, has been candid about his addiction struggles, which came to a head when the Bidens staged an intervention at the family's Wilmington, Delaware, home during the 2020 presidential campaign.
In an interview with CBS News last year, Hunter recalled storming out of the intervention toward his car and being blocked by his daughters, who begged him to stay. When Biden caught up, "He grabbed me and gave me a bear hug and he said — he just cried," Hunter said. "I don't know a force more powerful than my family's love, except addiction."
RELATED: Sean Hannity Appeared to Take Direction from Trump White House on Election Day, Texts Show
After airing the voicemail, Hannity responded to the audio saying, "It's actually sad," then alleged the voicemail was delivered at the "exact same time" that Hunter lied on a handgun application.
For years, Fox News has made Hunter a central figure of its coverage, using his past as a weapon to undermine Biden's legitimacy and excuse the Trump family's legal woes. Hannity positioned the voicemail as damaging to Biden's credibility by showing that he was close to his son while possible crimes were committed; instead, viewers took to the internet to commend Biden for supporting his son through a difficult time.
I don’t think Fox News knows the damage they just did to the Republican Party.
Mocking a loving father desperately trying to reach his son who’s struggling. Desperately trying to save the only son he has left. pic.twitter.com/ltDjcPm4x2
— DutchessPrim💙 (@dutchessprim) October 11, 2022
The White House did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment about the Hannity segment.
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On Thursday, The Washington Post reported that a long-running federal investigation into Hunter's business dealings and handgun purchase may be nearing the finish line. An anonymous source told the newspaper that federal agents believe they've acquired sufficient evidence to recommend criminal charges.
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please contact the SAMHSA substance abuse helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.