Entertainment

Binge This

Politics

Non-Partisan, but Not Neutral

Arts and Culture

Style, Sex, Media, and The Stage

COOL SIDE GIG

Here’s How Much Money Fox News Hosts Have Made Off GOP Speaking Gigs

A new study reveals that many of the pro-Trump network’s stars, including its ‘hard news’ anchors, have fattened their wallets by speaking at GOP events—an ethical no-no.

Maxwell Tani5.20.19 4:40 AM ET

Boosting the Republican Party has paid off—quite literally—for many Fox News hosts.

In a new report shared exclusively with The Daily Beast, liberal media-monitoring group Media Matters found that on-air personalities at the right-leaning news network have made a total of at least $500,000 in speaking fees for appearances at Republican groups and conservative organizations while working at Fox News.

Additionally, the report notes, several of the network’s news division employees—including Shannon Bream, Chris Stirewalt, and Neil Cavuto—have headlined events alongside Trump administration officials or spoken at events on Trump properties. Fox News did not respond to a request for comment on this story.

For the past 15 years, Media Matters has catalogued quotes and clips from Fox News, often attempting to pressure advertisers to abandon the network. But for the past year, the organization has focused on the explicit ties between Fox News and the GOP, regularly revealing when Fox hosts appear as speakers and cheerleaders at official party events.

Monday’s report shows that partisan speaking gigs have proven fairly lucrative side gigs for at least seven top Fox News personalities. Some of the speeches have been previously reported—the report recaps several-year-old instances when Fox News stars Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity, Fox Business Network host Lou Dobbs spoke at GOP events—but the report lays out new details of just how lucrative the engagements have been for Fox News stars.

In 2017, for example, The Five co-host Greg Gutfeld earned more than $36,000 speaking at a Washington Republican Party fundraiser, according to Media Matters. Weekend host Jeanine Pirro, who earlier this year was suspended for Islamophobic comments about a Muslim congresswoman, reportedly made $35,000 at a fundraiser for Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner in 2018.

Meanwhile, per the findings, Fox & Friends Weekend host Pete Hegseth made close to $20,000 on a series of speeches at official fundraisers and events for Republicans in 2018, and primetime host Laura Ingraham was revealed to have been paid $12,500 in 2016 for an event addressing the Sangamon County Republican Central Committee.

Most news outlets discourage or outright ban journalists or even opinion hosts from actively participating in partisan politics by contributing to campaigns or starring at party events.

Keith Olbermann was briefly suspended by MSNBC in 2010 after it was revealed that he donated to three Democratic candidates. Weeks later, the network also suspended Joe Scarborough for eight political donations he’d made—including one to then-state legislator Matt Gaetz, now a rising Trump-aligned Republican congressman. And Fox News famously yanked Hannity off a 2010 Cincinnati tea party rally he was set to star in and use for a live TV taping.

The network has publicly claimed it discourages employees from participating in partisan politics. “Fox News does not condone any talent participating in campaign events,” Fox brass said in a statement last year after Hannity and Pirro appeared on-stage with Donald Trump at a campaign event.

Fox claimed to have reprimanded the two stars, but did not say what consequences the duo actually suffered.

And the network has long had a spotty record of enforcing its own stated rules. Even after removing Hannity from the 2010 Tea Party rally, Fox News then-chief Roger Ailes shrugged off news that Hannity had given $5,000 to Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann (while condemning rival Olbermann’s political contributions). While the network supposedly punished Pirro for her Trump rally gig, it has not said whether she was reprimanded for headlining a Trumpettes USA event in Feb. 2019 at Mar-a-Lago, the president’s private club.

But while Fox stars Bream, Hegseth, and Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade separately planned to make appearances at GOP events this year, they have all recently backed out.

But the network has been unable to completely stop their talent from appearing at official Republican events.

The Media Matters report also shows that another Fox News employee, David Webb, who hosts a show on Fox Nation, is still set to address an upcoming Belknap County Republican Committee fundraising event in May.