John Boehner, the former Speaker of the House, has been out of Washington since he retired in October 2015 to his home in West Chester, Ohio. But the 13-term Republican, who tangoed with both President Obama and the insurgent Tea Party, is no longer holding back his thoughts on several conservative media figures.
Politico’s Tim Alberta spent 18 hours speaking with Boehner on the record, and the former House Speaker unloaded on conservative radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin for dividing the country along social and ideological lines. He also blamed MSNBC and social media on the left for helping to polarize voters. But he really let his anger show about Fox News host Sean Hannity, who called for Republicans to replace Boehner as speaker in December 2014.
“I always liked Rush [Limbaugh]. When I went to Palm Beach I would always meet with Rush and we’d go play golf. But you know, who was that right-wing guy, [Mark] Levin? He went really crazy right and got a big audience, and he dragged [Sean] Hannity to the dark side. He dragged Rush to the dark side. And these guys—I used to talk to them all the time. And suddenly they’re beating the living s— out of me,” Boehner told Alberta, directing most of his ire at Hannity.
“I had a conversation with Hannity, probably about the beginning of 2015. I called him and said, ‘Listen, you’re nuts,’” Boehner said. “We had this really blunt conversation. Things were better for a few months, and then it got back to being the same-old, same-old. Because I wasn’t going to be a right-wing idiot.”
The comments drew a swift reaction from Hannity on Twitter, who suggested Boehner might have been drunk during the interview.
“John were you sober when you said this?” Hannity wrote on Twitter late Sunday night. “That conversation never happened. I’m sorry you are bitter and u failed!”
John were you sober when you said this? That conversation never happened. I’m sorry you are bitter and u failed! https://t.co/SLquw7rXZv
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) October 30, 2017
Boehner’s comments also drew a reaction for former Fox News talker Bill O’Reilly, whom the House Speaker didn’t mention specifically in his comments.
“Perplexing— former Speaker John Boehner now bad mouthing some conservative commentators,” O’Reilly said on Twitter. “He had plenty of chances to do that to their faces.”
Perplexing— former Speaker John Boehner now bad mouthing some conservative commentators. He had plenty of chances to do that to their faces.
— Bill O'Reilly (@BillOReilly) October 30, 2017
Boehner also offered some insight on his relationship with former Fox News chairman Roger Ailes, who died back in May after being forced out of the network over multiple sexual harassment allegations and lawsuits. Boehner told Alberta he and Ailes were friends, but remembers one crazy meeting he had with the former Fox News CEO in New York in 2012.
“[I]t was the most bizarre meeting I’d ever had,” Bowhner recalled. “He had black helicopters flying all around his head that morning. It was every conspiracy theory you’ve ever heard, and I’m throwing cold water on all this bulls—.”
Boehner also didn’t hold back admonishing some of his former colleagues in the House, including former Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who resigned from Congress back in June to become a contributor on Fox News.
‘F— Chaffetz,” Boehner said, dubbing him an “a—hole” who was a “total phony” that only truly cared about his own self-promotion.
“With Chaffetz, it’s always about Chaffetz,” Boehner said.
Chaffetz did not immediately respond to a request for comment.