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GOP payments, Trump venues, conflicts of interest:

Fox figures’ speeches have


been an ethical disaster
By Eric Hananoki
For years, Fox employees have spoken at events for conservative groups and Republican Party organizations, using
their cable news celebrity to help those organizations raise money and gain publicity. According to a new Media
Matters analysis, Fox figures have taken more than $500,000 from Republican Party groups to speak at events. They
have interviewed Republicans officials shortly after co-headlining events with them. And they have financially helped
President Donald Trump by keynoting speeches on Trump properties.

Five takeaways from an examination of speeches by Fox figures:


1 Fox hosts Tucker Carlson, Lou Dobbs, Greg Gutfeld, 4 Republican groups paying Fox News hosts
Sean Hannity, Pete Hegseth, Laura Ingraham, and Jeanine has unsurprisingly created numerous conflicts of
Pirro have received over $500,000 combined in speaking interest. For instance, Pete Hegseth repeatedly
fees from Republican groups while working at the network. interviewed Senate candidate John James after

2
headlining a fundraiser with the Michigan Republican;
Members of Fox’s purported “news” division, and Pirro interviewed Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)
such as anchor Shannon Bream and Fox News Senior the day after appearing with him at a fundraiser.

5
Vice President of business news Neil Cavuto, have also
headlined conservative events, including alongside Three Fox News hosts -- Brian Kilmeade, Pete
Republican officials. In one instance, Bream spoke at a Hegseth, and Shannon Bream -- have cancelled
conference that also featured then-Interior Secretary speeches at conservative events this year
Ryan Zinke (whom she later interviewed on her program). following Media Matters reporting.

3 Fox News employees have spoken at events


that have financially benefited President Donald Trump.
For instance, Chris Stirewalt -- a member of Fox’s
“news” division -- spoke at an event for the petroleum
industry at Trump International Hotel Washington,
D.C. And Jeanine Pirro has done events in which the
proceeds went to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida.
50-plus notable examples of Fox News speeches
2007-2016
November 1, 2007
Sean Hannity speaks at a fundraising event for the Alachua County Republican Party in Florida, re-
portedly receiving $75,000. The GOP group’s website stated at the time that Hannity would “broad-
cast the Sean Hannity half of Hannity and Colmes via satellite from the Ronald Reagan Black Tie and
Blue Jeans BBQ. We had lobbied the powers that be that control such thing because it will greatly
de-compress the day and the event. They informed us a few days ago that we got our wish. After the
reception and during the main event, the reception hall at Canterbury Equestrian Showplace will get
turned in to a mini TV studio. The[re] will be no audience in the reception hall, during Hannity and
Colmes. … We will be broadcasting Hannity and Colmes on our big screens in the arena.”

August 2, 2008
Fox News Washington Managing Editor Bill Sammon says in a speech aboard a cruise for Hillsdale
College that he lied repeatedly during the closing days of the 2008 presidential campaign when
he speculated on-air “about whether Barack Obama really advocated socialism.” The remarks were
unearthed by Media Matters three years later and caused major embarrassment for the network.

April 15, 2009


Fox News hosts Neil Cavuto, Greta Van Susteren, Glenn Beck, and Sean Hannity attend tea party
rallies across the country, with the network labeling them “FNC Tax Day Tea Parties.” Beck and Van
Susteren are no longer with the network, but Cavuto, in addition to hosting programs on Fox News
and Fox Business, “oversees business news content for both networks” as its senior vice president
and managing editor of business news.

March 23, 2010


Hannity keynotes a fundraising dinner for the National Republican Congressional Committee. The
GOP group stated that it “raised over $7 million” for the annual event.

April 15, 2010


Hannity plans to broadcast his Fox News program from a Tea Party rally in Cincinnati but Fox News
executives force him to abandon his plans. The Cincinnati Enquirer first reported on the event, and
Media Matters added additional reporting and criticism before Hannity’s appearance was cancelled.
Though Fox News executives were reportedly angry with Hannity, the Times later reported, “While
there have been post-mortem discussions about the incident, it does not appear that they have
resulted in any serious disciplinary measures taken against any staffers involved.”

September 25, 2010


Tucker Carlson -- then a Fox News contributor -- reportedly speaks at an event hosted by the Moore
County Republican Party in North Carolina, receiving $10,000.

March 29, 2011


Carlson speaks at a fundraising event for the Lane County Republican Party in Oregon, receiving
$23,500.
May 25, 2011
Then-Fox News contributor Dick Morris speaks a fundraising event for the Oakland County Repub-
lican Party in Michigan. He would later treat GOP donors to a tour of Fox News and tapings of Lou
Dobbs Tonight and Hannity.

March 9, 2012
Morris speaks at a fundraising event for the Republican Party of Lake County in Florida and auctions
off a personal guided tour of Fox News’ New York studios for GOP donors. Fox News “reprimanded”
Morris following Media Matters’ report.

February 7, 2013
Ingraham speaks at a fundraising event for the Republican Party of Palm Beach County at Mar-A-
Lago, FL, receiving $12,500. Trump introduced Ingraham.

July 1, 2014
Media Matters releases a report documenting 15 Fox News hosts and contributors who have cam-
paigned in the past few years with two political organizations created and heavily funded by billion-
aire industrialists Charles and David Koch. The Fox employees include current Fox hosts Tucker
Carlson, Greg Gutfeld, Laura Ingraham, Charles Payne, and Dana Perino.

February 21, 2015


Jeanine Pirro speaks at a fundraising event for the Manatee County Republican Executive Commit-
tee, receiving $20,000.

May 4, 2015
Ingraham speaks at an event for then-Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). Blackburn became a senator
in 2019.

February 11, 2016


Ingraham speaks at a fundraising event for the Sangamon County Republican Central Committee in
Illinois, receiving $12,500.

March 20, 2016


Ingraham speaks at a fundraising event for the Republican Party of Palm Beach County at Mar-A-
Lago. Trump, who was the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination then, also spoke
at the event.

May 5, 2016
Brian Kilmeade speaks at an event for the Queens Village Republican Club in New York.

May 13, 2016


Carlson -- then a co-host on Fox & Friends Weekend -- speaks at an event for the Republican Party
of Arkansas, receiving $23,500.
2017
January, February, and March 2017
Jeanine Pirro receives a “speaker’s fee” payment of $5,000 each month, for a total of $15,000, from
the New Jersey Republican State Committee for an unspecified event.

January 26, 2017


Pete Hegseth speaks at a fundraising event for the Republican Party of Brazos County in Texas,
receiving $5,000.

February 18, 2017


Pirro speaks at a fundraising event for the Kent County Republican Committee in Delaware, receiv-
ing $12,000.

March 4, 2017
Lou Dobbs speaks at a fundraising event for the Manatee County Republican Executive Committee
in Florida, receiving $25,000.

March 9, 2017
Pirro speaks at a fundraising event for the Erie County Republican Committee in New York, receiv-
ing $7,579.34.

March 13, 2017


Pirro speaks at a fundraising event for the Georgia Republican Party, receiving $15,000.

March 20, 2017


Pirro speaks at a fundraising event for the Republican Committee of Lower Merion and Narberth in
Pennsylvania, receiving $5,284.

March 31, 2017


Pirro speaks at a fundraising event for the Bonneville County GOP in Idaho, receiving $14,000.

April 21, 2017


Hegseth speaks at a fundraising event for the Snohomish County Republican Central Committee in
Washington, receiving $5,547.60.

July 28, 2017


Pirro speaks at a fundraising event for the Republican Party of Arkansas, receiving $15,000.

July 29, 2017


Hegseth speaks at a fundraising event for the Larimer County Republican Party in Colorado, receiv-
ing $5,000

September 21, 2017


Host Greg Gutfeld speaks at a fundraising event for the Washington State Republican Party, receiv-
ing $36,609.41.
October 8, 2017
Pirro speaks at a fundraising event for the Volusia County Republican Party in Florida, receiving
$20,000.

October 13, 2017


Cavuto speaks at an event for the conservative and Koch-funded Washington Policy Center along-
side Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

October 17, 2017


Ingraham speaks at a “campaign kickoff event” for then-Senate candidate Kelli Ward (R) in Arizona.
The New York Times reported, “Fox News hosts are not usually allowed to stump for candidates, but
Ms. Ingraham was granted an exception because her show had not yet begun.”

October 21, 2017


Pirro speaks at a fundraising event for the California Republican Party, receiving $20,000.

November 2, 2017
Hegseth speaks at a fundraising event for the Montgomery County Republican Women’s PAC
in Texas, receiving $6,500.

November 9, 2017
Pirro speaks at a fundraising event for the Alachua County Republican Party in Florida,
receiving $15,000.

December 6, 2017
Hannity speaks and accepts an award at a United in Purpose luncheon hosted by Ginni
Thomas at Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.

2018
January 18, 2018
Pirro speaks at an event for the Trumpettes USA club at Mar-a-Lago. The Washington Post reported
that “the event followed the format of a Palm Beach charity ball — without the charity. [Trumpettes
co-founder Toni Holt] Kramer was clear that the money would all go to the president’s club.”

February 8, 2018
Pirro speaks at a fundraising event for the Sangamon County Republican Central Committee in Illi-
nois, receiving $13,250.

February 17, 2018


Gutfeld speaks at an event for the Morris County Republican Committee Fundraiser at Trump Na-
tional Golf Club in New Jersey, reportedly receiving $30,000.
February 23, 2018
Hegseth speaks at a fundraising event for the Alabama Republican Executive Committee, receiving
$10,600.

March 5, 2018
Chris Stirewalt, Fox News’ politics editor who “helps coordinate political coverage across Fox plat-
forms,” gives a keynote speech at Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., for the Indepen-
dent Petroleum Association of America. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) spoke at the gathering the fol-
lowing day.

March 16, 2018


Pirro speaks at a fundraising event for the Kern County Republican Central Committee in California
that also features then-House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). Pirro, who received $25,000
for speaking at the event, would interview McCarthy the following the day on her Fox News program
without disclosing the payment.

May 17, 2018


Hegseth speaks at a fundraising event for the Benton County Republican Central Committee in
Washington, receiving $8,500.

May 24, 2018


Hegseth speaks at a fundraising event for the Livingston County Republican Party in Michigan with
then-Republican Senate candidate John James. Hegseth, who received $10,239.55 for the engage-
ment, would later interview James on Fox & Friends Weekend on July 28, September 9, October 14,
and October 28, without disclosing his financial conflict of interest.

June 28, 2018


Hannity speaks at a Manhattan Republican Party event honoring him.

June 30, 2018


Fox News Radio host Todd Starnes speaks alongside Republican officials at a fundraising event
for the Fayette County Republican Party in Tennessee. Starnes has also worked as an anchor and
reporter for Fox News Radio.

July 2, 2018
Hannity participates in campaign rallies for two Florida Republicans: gubernatorial candidate Ron
DeSantis and congressional candidate Rep. Matt Gaetz.

August 11, 2018


Shannon Bream speaks at the conservative Steamboat Institute’s 10th Annual Freedom Conference
& Festival and praised the recently passed GOP tax bill and said that Trump has been “rolling back
regulations that we’ve heard from businesses, from the IRS to the EPA, have made it tougher for
them to survive and be profitable in America.” Bream made the remarks despite stating that she’s
“in the news division” and doesn’t “have an opinion publicly.” Then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke also
appeared at the conference; Bream interviewed Zinke on her show in November.
October 10, 2018
Pirro speaks at an event for Scott Wagner for Governor (R) in Pennsylvania, receiving $35,000.

November 5, 2018
Hannity and Pirro both appear and speak at a campaign rally with Trump ahead of the midterm elec-
tions. The network responded by falsely claiming it “does not condone any talent participating in
campaign events.”

2019
January 17, 2019
The Williamson County Republican Party in Tennessee announces that “Brian Kilmeade will not be
speaking at” its February 16 “Reagan Day due to scheduling conflicts.” Media Matters had earlier that
month criticized the Fox & Friends host for agreeing to participate in the partisan fundraiser.

January 24, 2019


The Bridgeport Republican Town Committee in Connecticut announces that Pete Hegseth will no
longer be speaking at its April 25 fundraiser “due to circumstances beyond our control.” The cancel-
lation came a day after Media Matters reported on the event.

February 23, 2019


Pirro again headlines a Trumpettes USA party at Mar-a-Lago that benefits Trump’s club, as The
Washington Post’s Erik Wemple reported.

March 22, 2019


The James Madison Institute announces that Shannon Bream has cancelled her speech at its
April 3 fundraiser. Media Matters had previously reported on the event, noting that Bream
belongs to Fox’s “news” division yet was scheduled to speak at the fundraiser for the
Koch-linked group alongside Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.

May 31, 2019


Fox Nation host and Fox News contributor David Webb is scheduled to emcee a
fundraising event for the Belknap County Republican Committee in New Hampshire.
Webb has also emceed the committee’s events in previous years.

Media Matters obtained speaking fees through searches of various


government campaign finance databases. The fees were either paid to the
Fox figures or to their speaking bureaus.

PDF Design: Sarah Wasko


Photos: Gage Skidmore