John Fredericks, the relatively unknown host of a daily morning-drive radio program syndicated from central Virginia, has managed to consistently book Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and his top surrogates for interviews. There’s a reason for that: He’s also reportedly the campaign’s state vice chairman, a fact that has eluded national networks that have put him on their airwaves to discuss the 2016 election.
The John Fredericks Show is syndicated across Virginia by WHTK in Hampton Roads, WNTW in Richmond, and WBRG in Roanoke, Salem, Lynchburg, Lexington, Charlottesville, Farmville and Danville. A Virginian-Pilot feature in 2012 reported that before radio, Fredericks worked as a newspaper advertising consultant. Fredericks then held a position as the editorial page editor at the Daily Press for Newport News, but he told The Virginian-Pilot he was fired from the position because he “was too conservative.”
The Virginian-Pilot further reported that Fredericks had carved out a niche for himself in the state’s conservative radio market by booking national political newsmakers despite low ratings and few connections to local GOP leaders.
Fredericks’ ability to book leading political figures has continued into the 2016 election cycle. Last year, Fredericks openly endorsed Trump for president and has since used his show to elevate fellow campaign surrogates and leaders. The Virginia radio host has interviewed Trump on his program numerous times and hosted a steady stream of on-air surrogates since first predicting Trump would win the Republican nomination in May 2015. They’ve included Corey Lewandowski, Eric Trump, Newt Gingrich, and Ivanka Trump.
Virginia media have consistently disclosed Fredericks’ ties to the Trump campaign, identifying him as “vice chairman of the Trump campaign in Virginia,” but national media have failed to inform viewers of Fredericks’ formal role in Trump’s campaign.
CNN first hosted Fredericks on August 16, when host Don Lemon failed to disclose Frederick’s role as vice chairman for Trump’s campaign in Virginia. On September 9, Lemon noted that Fredericks was a “Trump supporter” but failed to mention his formal ties to Trump’s campaign.
On September 30, Lemon hosted Fredericks again to defend Trump’s late-night tweet storm attacking former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, introducing him as a “syndicated talk-radio host” and omitting his endorsement of or connection to the Trump campaign.
It’s important that media disclose Fredericks’ ties to the Trump campaign, because Fredericks has gone silent on his own disclosures leading up to and since the October 4 vice presidential debate in his home state. His most recent on-air disclosure came on September 21, when he identified himself as the “co-chair” of Trump’s campaign in Virginia and reported on recent financial support from Trump’s national campaign for the Virginia ground operation.