Rep. Matt Gaetz is facing one of the biggest public scandals of his career, amid a federal probe of his alleged sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl, and his claims he’s actually the victim of an extortion plot. For weeks, before news of the investigation broke, the MAGA congressman explored the possibility of a soft landing in right-wing media, reportedly including a potential job at Newsmax and, as The Daily Beast has learned: One America News Network and Fox News.
Two sources familiar with the situation said that Gaetz also indicated to OAN that he was interested in exiting politics for a TV gig. When asked by The Daily Beast whether he inquired with the network about a possible post-congressional job, Gaetz confirmed on Wednesday afternoon: “Yes. I’ve had many conversations with many people about life after Congress. These conversations have been very general in nature and have never included me soliciting or receiving an offer of employment.”
He continued: “There is not a single conservative television station I haven’t had a passing conversation with about life after Congress. I have neither received nor solicited offers from any of them. But yes, I’ve talked to either executives, producers or hosts at Newsmax, OAN, Fox, Fox Business, Real America’s Voice and probably others I’m forgetting in this moment as I focus intently on refuting false accusations against me.”
A Fox News Media spokesperson said in response: “No one with any level of authority has had conversations with Matt Gaetz for any of our platforms and we have no interest in hiring him.”
Two OAN insiders said Gaetz’s interest in their network was made especially apparent when he visited OAN’s San Diego headquarters on February 22, appearing in OAN’s studios for a live interview with Real America host Dan Ball. OAN’s founder and CEO Robert Herring said Wednesday of reports that Gaetz had been inquiring about cable-news gigs: “Somebody did call me and say that Congressman Gaetz might be looking for a job, possibly at Newsmax.”
Axios first reported that Gaetz, one of former President Trump’s favorites on Capitol Hill, had privately mused to confidants that he was considering leaving Congress for a Newsmax gig. The Florida lawmaker, Axios reported, had early conversations with the upstart right-wing cable network about what his role could look like.
But as for his own network, Herring said, “Right now, I’m not really hiring anybody for talk shows. I think he is a great congressman, and I told [that ‘somebody’] to tell him to stay there. That’s what I want Congressman Gaetz to do.”
Herring said he did not recall when he received that call, and declined to say who called him.
Gaetz has become a near-constant presence on Fox News and other conservative media outlets over the past few years, and he has not been shy about making his media ambitions known.
Fox News primetime star Sean Hannity has offered in the past to let Gaetz guest-host his radio show. And over the past 12 months, the congressman has averaged about 90 minutes of screentime per month on Fox News and also once served as a guest co-host of Fox’s daytime panel show Outnumbered. Earlier this month, Hannity himself even mused on-air about a potential show co-hosted by Gaetz and Fox & Friends Weekend host Pete Hegseth, a similarly devoted Donald Trump loyalist.
Amid this new scandal, however, Gaetz’s hopes of a potential transition from Congress to a cable-news career may for now be dashed, at least in some corners of Trumpist media.
“Probably not,” one of the OAN insiders told The Daily Beast when asked if Gaetz has a chance to be hired by the network after the news that the feds are probing his alleged payment for the 17-year-old girl’s travel alongside him—a potential violation of sex-trafficking laws. Gaetz has repeatedly denied the allegations and claimed the investigation is part of an extortion effort against his family.
Multiple Newsmax insiders also echoed similar doubts that Gaetz has any future as a cable-news host, with one source pointedly declaring, “Highly doubt it, highly.” A Newsmax spokesperson said in a statement to The Daily Beast: “We don’t comment on talent discussions or future programming plans.”
At the same time, though, one OAN insider remarked that it’s just as possible that the network may decide to look past the accusations as the conspiracy-peddling channel embraces controversy and could paint Gaetz as a victim of the so-called deep state. And one Newsmax insider even commented that the Times bombshell “looks like a smear.”
—With additional reporting by Diana Falzone.