Stuart Varney and Dana Perino with a podium and a reddish background
Andrea Austria / Media Matters

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Fox personalities and other conservatives savage Fox Business’ GOP presidential debate

Multiple Fox News personalities and many other right-wing media figures and outlets castigated the production of the second Republican presidential primary debate, jointly hosted by Fox Business and Univision, and the performance of Fox moderators Stuart Varney and Dana Perino.

  • “Disaster,” “messy, chaotic”: Fox personalities criticized its own debate

    • Fox host Jesse Watters: “That debate was a disaster.” Watters added, “We learned nothing. The Real Housewives make more sense than that.” [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 9/28/23]
    • Fox contributor Byron York: Fox Business debate was “messy, chaotic.” [Twitter/X, 9/28/23]
    • Fox contributor Newt Gingrich: “I actually think that this should be the last debate.” Gingrich said he and his wife watched the debate and their conclusion “was basically that this is over. Nobody’s going to break out. … Just let’s go on, accept the fact that Trump will be the nominee, and figure out how do we beat Biden and win the Senate and increase our majority in the House.” Fox Business host and former Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow agreed “100%.” [Fox Business, Kudlow, 9/28/23]
    • Fox host Greg Gutfeld launched a vicious attack on Fox's partnership with Univision for the Republican debate. Referencing the right’s anti-trans boycott campaign, Gutfeld said: “Fox joining Univision, perhaps, was the worst partnership I've ever seen since Bud Light hired Dylan Mulvaney.” He continued, blaming the Republican National Committee for exposing the debate participants and audience to purportedly unfriendly lines of questioning: “This is on the RNC who felt they had to have Fox partner with Univision as if it would be value added when in fact it was value subtracted. Perhaps, give Univision their own debate — right — instead of loading questions with like these not so subtle accusations.” [Fox News, The Five, 9/28/23; Media Matters, 4/6/23]
    • Fox & Friends co-hosts agreed that the debate was meaningless for the presidential race. Ainsley Earhardt remarked, “I feel like I'm watching the vice president debate.” Her co-hosts Lawrence Jones and Steve Doocy agreed with the uselessness of the Fox Business debate, with Doocy adding, “Last night was a fight for second place.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 9/28/23]
    • Fox host Mark Levin used his radio show to promote Tucker Carlson’s counterprogramming of Fox Business’ GOP debate. Disgraced former Fox prime-time star Bill O’Reilly announced that Carlson (another disgraced former Fox prime-time star) would be airing an interview with him during the debate, and Levin said he’d prefer to watch that instead of GOP presidential candidate Chris Christie. [Westwood One, The Mark Levin Show, 9/26/23]
  • “Fox has to be put down”: Conservative media blasted the Fox Business debate

    • BlazeTV’s Steve Deace: “Fox has to be put down.” After ranting about Fox’s “utterly shameful” performance during its debate, Deace colorfully added “it's just time to Old Yeller Fox News.” In case his evocative image was unclear the first time, Deace concluded succinctly, “Fox has to be put down.” [BlazeTV, The Steve Deace Show, 9/28/23]
    • Former Fox reporter Rick Levanthal: The debate was a “clown show.” Leventhal also chided the second debate's faltering TV ratings, which were “way down” from the first debate. [Newsmax, Rob Schmitt Tonight, 9/28/23]
    • Newsmax host Greg Kelly: The debate was “a disaster.” Discussing the moderators, Kelly said, “I like Stuart Varney, but you can’t start a debate with getting your co-moderator’s name wrong.” [Newsmax, Rob Schmitt Tonight, 9/27/23]
    • Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk: Fox Business’ debate was a “circus,” a “complete clown show,” and “an absolute mess.” [Salem Media Group, The Charlie Kirk Show, 9/28/23]
    • Former Trump press secretary Sean Spicer: “I thought it was an absolute travesty.” He added: “That was a disaster, it was embarrassing, and it was insulting to the candidates there.” Spicer also called for no more debates, saying: “We’ve seen all the candidates, we’ve seen Donald Trump. … At some point, trust the voters.” [Salem Media Group, The Charlie Kirk Show, 9/28/23]
    • The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro: The debate was a massive car wreck. On his radio show, Shapiro said the debate “was just a 20-car pileup on the I-95. That’s all it was. It was a complete car crash, pretty much from the beginning.” [The Daily Wire, The Ben Shapiro Show, 9/28/23]
    • National Review’s Dan McLaughlin: “This debate was chaotic” and “poorly moderated.” McLaughlin also took a shot at Fox Business’ debate partner, writing that the debate was also “plagued by Univision anchor Ilia Calderón’s trying to push the candidates to the left — an odd and off-putting presence for a Republican debate on Fox at the Reagan Library.” [National Review, 9/28/23]
    • Trump operative Roger Stone: “This debate is a train-wreck.” [Twitter/X, 9/27/23]
    • Right-wing media lawyer Victoria Toensing: “Terrible @FoxNews (Business) debate.” She added: “Also, stupid questions.” [Twitter/X, 9/27/23]
    • HotAir’s Ed Morrissey: “The biggest loser of the debate was Fox Business Channel, with the RNC that arranged it a close runner-up.” [HotAir, 9/28/23]
    • PJ Media’s Paula Bolyard: “The Fox Business GOP presidential debate was a total trainwreck — and that’s putting it mildly.” [PJ Media, 9/28/23]
    • Gateway Pundit: “It was a bad debate. People on the right expected better from FOX Business.” [The Gateway Pundit, 9/28/23]
    • BlazeTV’s Stu Burguiere: “Trainwreck GOP debate marred by shouting matches.” [Twitter/X, 9/28/23]
    • TheBlaze founder Glenn Beck: The Fox Business debate “is the worst debate I have seen in my lifetime.” Beck — another disgraced ex-Fox star — also wrote, “I have officially given up on this stupid @foxdebate. #SHUTUP,” and “#foxfailure.” [Townhall, 9/28/23; Media Matters, 4/6/11]
    • Twitchy: The Fox Business debate was a “ridiculous circus.” [Twitter/X, 9/28/23]
    • Talk radio host Erick Erickson: The Fox Business debate “was a disservice to the primary process.” [Twitter/X, 9/28/23]