Fox News hosts are making a play for Donald Trump to attend the first Republican primary debate hosted by the network, despite the former president’s reluctance to do so.
The first GOP primary debate will be co-hosted by Fox News anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum. Trump has not confirmed whether or not he will be in attendance after repeatedly berating the network publicly since leaving the White House, and the network has been trying to woo the current frontrunner to the debate as his absence would be glaring.
Last week, the New York Times reported that Trump dined with Fox News president Jay Wallace and chief executive Suzanne Scott just after learning of his third indictment. The dinner — held in a private room at Trump’s golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey — was initiated by Fox executives in an effort to appeal to the former President to participate in the debate. According to the report, the Fox executives left empty-handed, as Trump would not confirm his attendance. However, he said he would “keep an open mind,” about the debate.
“Fox & Friends” joined in on the attempt to appeal to Trump Wednesday morning while discussing the prospects of his attendance at the debate.
Co-host Brian Kilmeade called the former President “extremely entertaining,” noting that “people want to see Trump debate.”
“Obviously, he is having second doubts about the advice he is getting from his advisers,” Steve Doocy said.
“I just don’t see Donald Trump sitting at home watching along with 40 or 50 million Americans when he sees Ron DeSantis in that center square,” continued Doocy. “That would absolutely drive him crazy.”
Ainsley Earhardt asked Trump not to take out his anger at the current administration “on Republicans because Republicans want to see him up on stage.”
“Don’t take the voters for granted,” Earhardt continued. “Yes, he is ahead by a lot, but to see him up on the stage would just be wonderful.”
“That’s how he became Donald Trump the first time,” Doocy replied.
“He made it entertaining,” Earhardt concluded.
A few hours later, Fox News was back on the subject of Trump’s attendance at the debate, playing a video of Trump asking a rally whether he should participate in the debate, considering his lead in the polls.
Fox News host Martha MacCallum, who is co-hosting the debate, responded to the video arguing that “it’s a great opportunity to speak to the American people.”
MacCallum framed the debate as a “platform where the former president can look directly at some people on that stage who he has contention with and have a moment to set the record straight.”
“I clearly hope that he takes advantage of the opportunity to speak to voters in Milwaukee,” MacCallum continued. “I think that it will be a fair and stimulating environment that gives everybody an opportunity to speak their mind.”
“I think it is the political event of the summer,” Bill Hemmer added on to MacCallum’s appeal. “I think the ratings will be huge.”
Fox networks will not only be hosting the first Republican primary debate, as it was announced on Wednesday that Fox Business will hold the second debate in September. The moderators of the second debate have not yet been announced, but it could be a smaller batch of candidates since the RNC increased the qualifying threshold.
CEO Lachlan Murdoch praised Fox News on Tuesday during the company’s quarterly earnings call, celebrating the launch of the network’s new primetime lineup. Murdoch noted that the network is gearing up to “head into the presidential cycle.”