The Fox News presidency is over, but the network’s unrivaled influence over the Republican Party is not.
Donald Trump is in the early stages of developing a policy agenda for the GOP with an eye toward the 2022 midterms, Politico reported Tuesday evening. The former president retains a stranglehold on his party, such that if he were to actually release such a document, the GOP apparatus and many of its candidates would likely adopt its recommendations. And the group he’s working with includes a familiar face from the Fox-addled president’s television: longtime network contributor and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
“In recent weeks, Trump sat down with the former House speaker as well as his former chief of staff Mark Meadows and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) at his private Mar-a-Lago club to begin crafting the document, according to a source familiar with the meeting,” the Politico report stated.
Gingrich is a frequent Fox guest, making at least 404 appearances on its weekday programming since August 2017, according to Media Matters’ database. He first joined the network in 1999 after leaving Congress, stepping away to seek the 2012 GOP presidential nomination and do a stint at CNN before returning in 2015. Gingrich also has close ties to Trump, who considered him for the vice presidential nomination in 2016. (Fox host Sean Hannity flew his colleague on a private jet to meet with Trump about the slot.)
The former speaker has long held an unearned reputation as a GOP “ideas man.” But during his Fox tenure, he has repeatedly promoted positions shared by corporations that paid him, along with scams, despicable conspiracy theories, and bigotry. Gingrich has most recently become one of the network's most ardent champions of Trump’s lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him, pushing the falsehood as recently as this month.
Gingrich’s involvement in the development of Trump’s 2022 policy agenda raises all sorts of thorny ethical questions for Fox, from why the network would allow a network employee to effectively help author a party’s platform, to how it would cover the document one of its employees helped write if it is completed and unveiled, to whether anyone else from the network might be involved (is Trump bouncing ideas off of Hannity or other members of his Fox cabinet?). But Fox executives have long ceased to care about whether it functions as a propaganda outlet.
It’s too early to say what will be in the Trump document -- or even if it will ever see the light of day, given the former president’s general laziness. But in an interview with Politico, Gingrich cited “positive” policies like “eliminating critical race theory” -- a regular feature of Fox’s programming -- as potential inclusions.
Trump is notoriously ignorant of and uninterested in policy nuances. But he does care about what he sees on his television. That means Fox’s coverage may end up shaping the GOP’s agenda going into the 2022 midterm elections, just as it did during Trump’s presidency.