Fox News contributor Dan Bongino recently appeared in a campaign video for President Donald Trump and has been getting money from Republican groups to appear at fundraisers. Fox News has claimed that it does not condone “talent” participating in campaign events, a policy that reportedly includes contributors.
Bongino is a former Secret Service agent who unsuccessfully ran for office as a Republican three times. He joined Fox News as a contributor in January after working for the now-defunct NRATV and frequently appearing on The Alex Jones Show. The commentator also occasionally guest hosts Fox News programs such as The Five and Hannity.
Bongino appeared in a December 9 video for the Trump campaign’s “Real News Insights” series with host Lara Trump. The episode was filmed at the president’s Mar-A-Lago resort in Florida. In the 10-minute video, Trump and Bongino praised the president and criticized the “deep state.” Bongino, who referenced working for Fox in the video, also promoted his newly launched website Bongino Report as an alternative to The Drudge Report. At the end, Lara Trump included a pitch for viewers to get involved with the campaign (a promotion for Trump text alerts also appeared throughout the video).
Bongino has also done numerous fundraisers for Republican groups while working at Fox News. Though campaign finance reports are not available for all of those organizations, Bongino was paid by at least two of those groups (Bongino’s appearances at the events also helped sell his books). The fundraisers this year include:
- an April 6 event for the Republican Party of St Lucie County in Florida (Bongino received a $10,000 speaking fee);
- an October 17 event for the Alachua County Republican Executive Committee in Florida;
- an October 19 event for the Washington County Republican Club PAC in Maryland;
- a November 3 event for the Volusia County Republican Party in Florida (Bongino received a $7,500 speaking fee); and
- a November 9 event for Republican Delegate Brian Chisholm in Maryland.
Those activities appear to conflict with Fox’s statements regarding contributors’ involvement with political campaigns.
Fox News said in November 2018 that it “does not condone any talent participating in campaign events” -- an alleged policy which has been selectively enforced by the network. The Washington Post reported on December 3 that “a spokeswoman said the network has addressed the issue with its contributors and hosts, as well as third-party agents who book events.”
In 2016, Fox News host Sean Hannity appeared in a Trump campaign video and a Fox News spokesperson said: “We had no knowledge that Sean Hannity was participating in this and he will not be doing anything along these lines for the remainder of the election.” Earlier this year, after Fox Nation hosts Diamond and Silk appeared in a Trump campaign video, Fox News suggested that standards do not apply to them because they are purportedly not official employees, telling The Hollywood Reporter: “Diamond & Silk license short weekly videos to Fox Nation – they are not Fox News contributors or employees. When they appear on FNC and FBN, they do so as guests.” While Fox’s reasoning was bizarre and perhaps news to even its own staff, the network certainly can’t claim the same distance for Bongino.