Update (3/22/19): The James Madison Institute announced on March 22 that “Bream has had to cancel her appearance at our annual dinner.” JMI announced that the keynote speaker will instead be Jason Riley, “a Wall Street Journal columnist, Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, Fox News commentator, and best-selling author.”
Fox News anchor Shannon Bream, who is part of the network’s “news division,” is scheduled to keynote a fundraiser for a conservative group alongside Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Bream and DeSantis are set to speak at the James Madison Institute’s 2019 annual fundraising dinner on April 3. Tickets for the event start at $150. JMI also stated that sponsors to the event “get access to our VIP reception before the dinner with special guest Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody,” who is a Republican.
JMI is a nonprofit organization that describes itself as “Florida’s premier free-market think tank.” The organization has ties to billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch. In 2016 and 2017, the Charles Koch Foundation gave JMI a combined $392,000 for general operating support.
While the organization states that it is nonpartisan, it has heavily praised Republican officials and their policies:
- During the 2018 campaign, JMI released a report attacking then-Democratic candidate Andrew Gillum and praising DeSantis, his GOP opponent. The institute wrote that Gillum’s agenda “would adversely impact the business climate of the State through higher taxes, a sharply higher minimum wage and State mandates to expand government-controlled health insurance.” The group added that DeSantis’ agenda, by contrast, would “largely maintain the pro-growth-oriented strategy of Florida through low and stable taxes, would preserve and strengthen the state’s business climate, which supports the attraction, retention and expansion of employment-generating business enterprises.”
- JMI has frequently praised President Donald Trump and his economic policies. Its website archives pieces by JMI-affiliated writers which carry such headlines as: “Trump tax reform — why don’t more Americans understand the benefits?”; “Donald Trump’s dream team for economic success”; “Right-sized fuel efficiency: Thank you, Donald Trump”; “Tax Reform Makes 2017 a Win for Trump and the Nation”; and “Could Trump’s Presidency Become the Most Cooperative in American History?”
- The organization has also praised Florida Republicans such as former Gov. Jeb Bush, and Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott; JMI’s CEO and president Robert McClure wrote that “Florida has been blessed with tremendous, conservative leadership over the past 20 years, championed by the likes of Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Rick Scott, among others.” All three have also lauded JMI, while Jeb Bush served on JMI’s board of directors in the early 1990s.
Over the years, JMI has released several “studies” and reports that deny global warming is happening, call for an end to clean energy programs, advocate for expanded offshore drilling despite the risks to Florida’s shores from deeper wells (like BP’s Deep Water Horizon), and push for corporate tax breaks, all of which would directly benefit the Koch brothers’ corporate and personal interests.
Bream is part of Fox’s purported “news division,” which Fox News executives point to when touting the channel’s alleged independence (in reality, the “news” and opinion sides are both cogs in the same propaganda machine). She said in a 2017 interview with TVNewser about her then-upcoming program Fox News @ Night: “I’m in the news division, so it will be all straight news, not opinion. Certainly we’ll have people on the program from all sides of the story, but it’s really about giving our viewers another straight hour of news.”
DeSantis has frequently appeared on Fox News, including on Bream's program. Fox News helped DeSantis win both his Republican primary and general election campaigns and host Sean Hannity campaigned for DeSantis in Florida.