Trump’s Bitter Standoff with Fox News Is Only Getting Worse

Photo Illustration by Kelly Caminero / The Daily Beast / Getty
Photo Illustration by Kelly Caminero / The Daily Beast / Getty
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Fox News was essential to Donald Trump’s success in both of his last presidential runs. Now, as the former president navigates another campaign through a tidal wave of indictments and legal problems, he’s facing a much frostier relationship with the cable giant—and that could be bad news for both of them.

In recent months, Trump’s inner circle has become convinced that Fox News is essentially sidelining the former president by restricting live appearances on the network.

“Trump is not allowed live on Fox,” a Trump operative told The Daily Beast, chalking it up to “fear” that Trump could level a baseless allegation that could leave the network in a legal mess.

A Trump adviser told The Daily Beast a similar story—that the former president isn’t allowed live on air anymore, and that Fox News prefers to have Trump in a pre-recorded setting.

“Fox sent down word from the top that they don’t want to ‘platform’ Trump like they did before,” a Trump adviser told The Daily Beast. “I find it hilarious. For one, it sounds like something MSNBC would do.”

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After a lengthy hiatus last year, Trump re-emerged on Fox News in March, but in a diminished capacity in a string of interviews with Fox hosts and anchors including Sean Hannity, Bret Baier, and Larry Kudlow. Gone are the days when Trump could simply call in live and share his stream of consciousness.

According to a search by The Daily Beast and Media Matters for America, Trump last phoned in live to a Fox News program in April of 2022. And Matt Gertz, senior fellow at Media Matters, told The Daily Beast the live freeze-out is no accident.

“Fox News’ record defamation settlement stemmed in part from its on-air Trump fanatics refusing to correct their guests’ election-denial conspiracy theories live, even when they knew their claims were lies,” Gertz said. “It’s wildly implausible to imagine the likes of Sean Hannity pushing back on Trump’s rigged-election fantasies, so it looks like Fox’s lawyers may have engineered a solution that doesn’t require its propagandists to perform journalism.”

One Trump confidant contrasted the apparent ban on Trump’s live appearances to earlier Fox News coverage, when they “used to go live at every single one of his rallies!”

As The Brookings Institution noted this year, Fox News’ “long-term influence may have paved the way for the power of Trumpism.” A poll conducted by The New York Times and Sienna College this year found that—as Brookings put it—the network can substantially impact viewers’ opinions by intensifying their already held right-wing beliefs.

In August, The New York Times reported that, before the first GOP presidential debate, Fox News executives pitched Trump on why he should attend their debate during a dinner at his Bedminster golf club. Trump played footsie with the idea of attending the debate, but ultimately never showed.

As Trump runs for president a third consecutive election—this time, with court appearances taking up much of his schedule—a direct line to Fox and its audience would be a convenient arrangement for him. But after Trump has made a sport of trashing Fox News, as well as that $787 million Fox News settlement with Dominion Voting Systems, Fox doesn’t seem interested in actively promoting Trump—at least not during the primary.

Fox News representatives did not return a request for comment on this story. And a Trump campaign spokesperson declined to offer on-the-record comment.

But a Trump adviser suggested that Fox News’ standoff with the former president risked alienating Trump’s base of MAGA-loving viewers.

“Trump and his supporters are the lifeblood of Fox’s business, so they’re shooting themselves, not in the foot, more like in the face,” this adviser said.

While most aides The Daily Beast spoke with believe Fox News is engaging in a strategic plan to bar Trump from live time, pinning down an official policy regarding Trump’s exclusion from live interviews is tricky. If the policy is explicit, Fox certainly isn’t spreading the word about it.

“I don’t know if it’s a black-and-white rule,” a second Trump adviser told The Daily Beast. “For Fox, they love a controlled environment. And remember, for a long time, they didn’t have him on, for months, so I think this was the next step.”

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One of the sources argued that Trump prefers live Fox News interviews because of the lack of edits, something the former president seemingly confirmed at a campaign rally in Clive, Iowa, earlier this week.

“See, I love live television, because they can’t cut you off, or they’re gonna have a lot of open time, if they do,” Trump said.

Earlier this year, Semafor reported that the Trump operation believed there was a “soft ban” regarding Trump appearing on Fox News.

“Everyone knows that there’s this ‘soft ban’ or ‘silent ban,’” the news outlet reported, citing a source “close” to the former president. However, since then, Trump has made a number of appearances on Fox.

Only his appearances all have portions left on the cutting room floor.

Notably, the second Trump adviser said Trump had noticed Fox News editing his interviews—which, this source said, was intentional.

“The last few interviews he’s done, whether it's been Hannity or [Mark] Levin, or others—they have come to Mar-a-Lago or Bedminster, so those cannot be live because they are a taped piece,” this Trump adviser said.

“One of the reasons they also do it is they are able to edit his words,” this adviser continued—specifically mentioning Trump’s false claims of a fraudulent 2020 election as a topic that’s left out of the final piece.

Following his 2020 election loss, the former president has frequently lashed out at Fox News and their respective executives, often in late-night rants on his social media site, Truth Social.


The former president has also claimed the network employs “globalists” and challenged the network’s parent company founder, Rupert Murdoch, to an “acuity test.”

Asked about Trump’s current thinking, a source close to the president told The Daily Beast that Trump’s words on Fox “speak for themselves.”

But the frustration hasn’t only been from the former president. His son, Donald Trump Jr., claimed that the network that once employed his fiancée, Kimberly Guilfoyle, hasn’t welcomed him on air in “months.”

“I used to be on Fox three, four, five, six, 10 times a week. I haven’t been on in nine months. Not a call, not an invite, not anything,” Trump Jr. said back in May, as The Daily Beast reported at the time.

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Trump’s other adult son, Eric Trump, appeared on the network in August to speak on his father’s ongoing legal problems. But when it comes to Trump’s relationship with Fox News, it’s long been complicated.

Trump, of course, has steadfast allies at the network—mostly in the form of Hannity and Levin. But both hosts are on the opinion side of the network. The news side, which uses a bit more discretion with fact-checks, has always been a little more oppositional to Trump, just by nature of Trump’s tortured relationship with the truth.

But the reality is, it’s not Fox that has taken up arms against Trump; it’s Trump that has taken up against Fox.

“Why is Rupert Murdoch throwing his anchors under the table, which also happens to be killing his case and infuriating his viewers,” Trump wondered on Truth Social in February.

Trump and his team seem to mostly blame Murdoch for the complicated standoff, touting his positive relationship with Hannity and some other anchors.

But whether Fox warms back up to Trump—or Trump warms back up to Fox—is an open question. Some Trump advisers seem to think both sides will thaw once they’re out of the GOP primary.

“The Murdochs are candidate shopping just like the rest of the donor class that hates Trump,” the first Trump adviser said. “They told their mouthpieces to push DeSantis. Now Haley. Who cares? They’ll go through the whole list and then Trump will still be the guy. It makes them look incredibly weak, which they are.”

While the immediate situation doesn’t seem to be getting any better, Trump allies are betting on the network coming back around.

“The fact is, they will all come and bend the knee soon and they will be begging and pleading,” a Trumpworld operative familiar with the standoff said. “‘Please can I come to dinner? Please will you come on the show?’”

Justin Baragona contributed to this report.

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