Sen. Tim Scott’s potential candidacy welcomed by Fox News, doubted by Newsmax

Among right-wing media, the warm welcome for a Scott candidacy seemingly stopped at Fox News Channel

On April 12, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) announced the formation of his presidential exploratory committee, to little fanfare among some of the right-wing media figures he would need to impress to win the Republican nomination. Scott’s potential candidacy received a warm, polite welcome from several Fox News figures, yet voices on its conservative cable rival Newsmax were notably less supportive. Many prominent right-wing media apparently said nothing at all.

Scott’s announcement video was “fantastic,” according to some Fox personalities, for leaning into “his own life story, which I think everybody in America … should hear about.” But even on a network that’s called Scott “the candidate of hope,” there is a realization that “he’s on the second tier” at best, and stands no chance unless former President Donald Trump “has to leave the race for some reason.”

The few non-Fox figures among right-wing media discussing Scott’s campaign are often more succinct about whether they believe in the senator’s chances: “Not this time.”  

In addition to releasing his not-yet-campaign video, Scott also announced the committee with a friendly interview on the April 12 edition of Fox & Friends, setting the tone for the rest of his coverage on that network for this news cycle.

Video file

Citation From the April 12, 2023, edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends

On America Reports, Fox contributor Katie Pavlich raved about Scott’s “fantastic” video and “general election message [of] defending America from the left.” Pavlich hailed Scott’s life story as something “everybody in America … should hear about,” and noted his focus on “real solutions that affect everyday lives of people.” 

Her co-panelist, Fox senior political analyst Juan Williams, acknowledged the obvious: “I think right now he’s on the second tier. … Former President Trump remains the frontrunner.” That said, Williams called Scott “a very intriguing addition to that second tier,” citing his “faith in America message” as “key,” and noted that anybody could wind up the nominee when “so much is up in the air” and we are “far from the actual decision about who’s going to be the nominee.”

On the next day’s Fox & Friends, frequent Fox guest Rob Smith didn’t hold back: “I think he should run. And I’m going to tell you why. His story and his compelling personal message is really in stark contrast to a lot of the other people that we have in the Republican primary field right now … Tim Scott has a message of coming up from nowhere, making something out of yourself in America. It's a very positive, affirming message.” 

“He always includes scripture, and God,” gushed co-host Ainsley Earhardt. “His story is incredible.” 

“This is a story for all Americans,” Smith replied.

Video file

Citation From the April 13, 2023, edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends

The previous day, on Fox’s The Story, Smith also said that “the way that he [Scott] holds his power is very strong, but it’s very calm as well,” and agreed with anchor Martha MacCallum’s claim that Scott’s candidacy has the Democratic Party “nervous about even just incremental change in the Black vote.” Smith’s co-panelist on The Story, pollster Lee Carter, characterized Scott as “the candidate of hope” who is “going to definitely play a more positive role” as a “very authentic, genuine guy, but the only chance I think he really has is if Donald Trump has to leave the race for some reason.” 

“I think Donald Trump is really, really tough to beat at this point,” Carter said, citing a polling analysis by FiveThirtyEight to conclude that “if you’re over 30 points at this point in the race, it’s almost impossible to beat you. And that’s where he [Trump] is right now.”

That realization is perhaps informing commentary at non-Fox right-wing outlets, if they have bothered to take note of his announcement -- a lot of prominent figures in right-wing media appear to have not given much time to Scott’s putative candidacy yet. But on Newsmax, the people discussing Scott’s potential challenge to Trump are largely saying “not this time.”

Newsmax guest and former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates speculated that Scott’s chances in 2024 are so slim, his exploratory committee might actually be for “2028, or maybe a VP slot.” With a slight chuckle at the senator’s polling performance against Trump, Gates said that Scott “was never viewed as a serious contender” for 2024, but “this is good for him to be more actively involved, to have a national profile which he needs when he runs more seriously down the road.”

“I like the guy,” admitted Newsmax host Greg Kelly, “I like what he’s saying, I like the principles, of course, but I don’t know — like, can he do it?” 

Although “that whole life story thing” earned Scott high praise on Fox, on Greg Kelly Reports, Kelly said, “I mean, everybody has a story. Is it that compelling a story? I mean, Barack Obama had a story. … Donald Trump had accomplishments. And he [Scott] didn’t say that much about accomplishments.” 

Noting that Scott is literally “a career politician,” having held elected office since 1995, Kelly asked, “Is he ready to take on the deep state? Tim Scott vs. the deep state. I don’t know. I just don’t know.”

“Actually, I do,” he chuckled. “Not this time.”

Video file

Citation From the April 12, 2023, edition of Newsmax's Greg Kelly Reports