Fox News’ ‘Hard News’ Shows Have a ‘Ban’ on Sebastian Gorka
The firebrand former Trump aide’s Fox appearances highlight the rift between Fox’s unabashed pro-Trump opinion programming and its hard-news division.
Fox News’ “hard news” shows—which fall under the network’s news division and pride themselves on being at least somewhat distinct from Fox’s pro-Trump agitprop apparatus—want nothing to do with former White House official Sebastian Gorka, multiple sources at Fox News told The Daily Beast.
One knowledgeable Fox News staffer described the situation as effectively a “soft ban” on Gorka, the controversial, firebrand ex-aide to President Donald Trump and former national security adviser to Steve Bannon.
During his stint in the Trump administration, before his ouster by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly last August, Gorka was targeted by various internal enemies and colleagues who sought to marginalize him on actual policy-making, and leaked aggressively against him to the media. Still, he managed to survive longer than his former boss Bannon, and became an on-screen favorite of Trump, who got a kick out of how much Gorka seemed to relish berating and debating journalists during media appearances.
After his departure from the White House, the ex-Trump aide returned to Fox News as a frequent contributor, and found a home on reliably Trump-loving programming such as Hannity, Fox & Friends, and The Ingraham Angle.
Trump continues to watch Gorka regularly and, according to several sources who’ve spoken to the president about the Fox contributor in recent months, still tells associates how much he enjoys seeing “Seb” on cable news. Trump has also been known to enthusiastically ask people around the West Wing if they had checked out a specific, recently aired Gorka clip.
In early March, President Trump even hosted his ousted ex-official for a private dinner at the White House to gossip and talk politics and media, because Trump “couldn’t get enough of [Gorka] on TV,” as one source familiar with the meeting described it to The Daily Beast.
It would, on paper, seem like an enviable position for any TV political commentator who could weigh in during a straight-news broadcasts: Gorka has experience in national security and comms matters in the current administration, with some continued access to the president to boot.
Several of Gorka’s former Trumpworld cohorts and administration colleagues, such as former senior West Wing official Marc Short and former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, have been snapped up recently by news outlets and networks to provide analysis on various straight news shows and panel discussions.
However, according to a review of transcripts compiled by television-monitoring service TVEyes, Gorka has not appeared on a Fox News hard-news program since at least February 2018.
While he has appeared multiple times a week on Fox’s flagship “opinion” shows (and Trump’s personal favorites) like Hannity and Fox & Friends, Gorka has not been on the network’s straight news shows like America’s Newsroom, Fox News Sunday, Special Report, and Shepard Smith Reporting, among others, since early this year. In November, Gorka was officially re-hired by Fox News to serve as a "national security strategist."
It wasn’t always like this. For instance, in June 2016, months before he entered the White House and then emerged as a prominent MAGA spokesman, Gorka appeared for a hard-news segment hosted by Fox News’ Bret Baier—often cited as an actually “fair and balanced” anchor on the conservative media behemoth—to discuss the Pulse nightclub massacre.
And, according to several people with knowledge of the matter, the newfound unofficial “ban” is no accident—and it’s not because Sean Hannity or other opinion hosts have dibs on Gorka.
Fox’s news division simply does not view Gorka as credible enough to regularly comment on subjects on which Gorka has branded himself a longtime expert, or to analyze the administration of which he was a member.
One Fox News producer in the news division told The Daily Beast that their show avoided booking Gorka because he was essentially “useless” to them, and could offer nothing more than his typically unabashed, unconditional cheerleading for Trump.
Another staffer working on a hard-news show bluntly stated that “we will take other counterterrorism experts. We will not take Seb. Ever.”
As the Fox staffer explained, the reason for this is a general opinion within the news division and among reporting staff that Gorka is a “clown” and not an “objective” commentator on national security issues. (Gorka is often tagged by his critics as an academic fraud and an anti-Muslim zealot posing as an expert on radical Islam and foreign policy.)
Fox News did not respond to a request for comment on this story. Gorka, however, was slightly more forthcoming.
“Seriously? You are such a loser. Get a life,” Gorka emailed a Daily Beast reporter, replying to a question about why he wasn’t appearing on certain programs lately.
The former Trump aide’s response wasn’t entirely surprising. The last time The Daily Beast contacted him for a story about his media work, Gorka said: “You don't fucking know me,” and that “I don’t talk to people who aren’t real journalists.”
He added: “Goodbye, and delete this number.”