Fox News host Sean Hannity denounced Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy on his radio show on Thursday following Bundy's repeated comments wondering if "Negroes" are better off as slaves, while his network continued to shift from promoting Bundy to ignoring him.
[Ed's note: This piece has been updated. See below.]
"His comments are beyond repugnant to me," Hannity said in audio posted by Media Matters. "They are beyond despicable to me. They are beyond ignorant to me."
Hannity had emerged as Bundy's most vocal supporter on the conservative news channel, but on Thursday he argued that his interest in the case was in criticizing what he felt was an overblown response by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) toward Bundy's 20-year refusal to pay federal grazing fees for his cattle.
"In this case, you've got a couple of hundred armed agents, snipers, sharpshooters, dogs, stun guns," Hannity said of federal officials. "And then you've got another group coming out because they think it's government overreach. It was a prescription for a disaster. Remember Waco, Ruby Ridge, all these other cases."
Hannity also said Bundy's comments angered him because they opened the door for Democrats to continue being able to claim that conservatives were racist.
"People that, for the right reasons, saw this case as government overreach now are branded because of the ignorant, racist, repugnant, despicable comments of Cliven Bundy," Hannity lamented, before saying he couldn't even stand to listen to audio of Bundy attempting to clarify -- then repeating -- his comments on another conservative program.
"It reminds me of Todd Akin," Hannity said after telling his producer to turn the clip off. "We had Todd Akin on this program like three days in a row, basically begging this idiot to get out of the race because he's going to tarnish the image of anybody who's a conservative or a Republican."
While Hannity disavowed his connection to Bundy, Think Progress reported that Fox News continued to remain mum on the subject on Thursday though one attempt to discuss Bundy earlier in the day was squashed by host Gretchen Carlson.
Instead of running Bundy's public response to the controversy -- during which he repeatedly referred to African-Americans as "the Negroes" -- Fox allegedly ran a segment criticizing media outlets for not questioning former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton more aggressively about the Benghazi embassy attack in September 2012.
Update, 7:04 p.m. EST: Mediaite reported that Hannity also changed his tune regarding his recent criticism of Daily Show host Jon Stewart, suggesting he was a fan of Stewart's show.
"I think Jon Stewart is extremely talented and funny," Hannity said. "I don't know, I must be missing the chip because some of my friends said 'Hannity, he took you down last night.' And I said, 'Yeah, it was pretty funny, I laughed.'"
Listen to Hannity's commentary, as posted on Thursday, below.