Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), a favorite of former President Donald Trump who is now under federal investigation for sex trafficking, became a MAGA megastar heavily due to his regular appearances defending the former president on Fox News, where he made at least 179 appearances since he was sworn into office in 2017, based on a review of available Fox News transcripts.
Prior to Feb. 2019, many of Gaetz’s appearances on Fox were on afternoon shows like Neil Cavuto’s “Your World” at 4 p.m.
Gaetz began appearing on primetime shows more regularly after Special Counsel Robert Mueller concluded his investigation into Russian interference on behalf of Trump in the 2016 campaign.
Gaetz consistently appeared on the primetime shows of Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson and Martha MacCallum throughout Mueller’s testimony in the summer of 2019, and through Trump’s 2020 impeachment hearings and Senate trial.
His run ended on March 30, when during a bizarre appearance on Carlson’s show he denied allegations he traveled with, and had sexual relationships with, underaged women, which the New York Times reported was under investigation by the Justice Department.
Before the reports of the investigation, rumors emerged that Gaetz was in talks to leave Congress and take a job with either Fox, Newsmax or One America News Network.
Fox said Thursday—after his appearance on Carlson’s show—it had “no interest” in hiring him, and a Fox News spokesperson referred Forbes to prior comments that the network had no interest in hiring Gaetz when asked for comment.
Gaetz’s office has not responded to a request for comment.
Gaetz has been under increased scrutiny as allegations of sexual misconduct have emerged. In addition to the DOJ investigation, Gaetz has been accused of showing photos and videos of naked women to other members on the House floor, and of playing a “game” while a member of the Florida House where he and other lawmakers would rate and target sexual conquests. Gaetz’s communications director, Luke Ball, resigned from Gaetz’s office on Friday. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said he would remove Gaetz from the powerful House Judiciary Committee if the allegations were found to be true, which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the “least that could be done.” Gaetz told The Hill he has no plans of resigning.
Gaetz was a frequent guest on Fox News during Mueller’s congressional testimony in July 2019, and Gaetz consistently defended Trump against all accusations of wrongdoing, like during this appearance on July 23, 2019: “President Trump was falsely accused by my good friend, Eric Swalwell and others of being an agent of the Russian government. And that was the language that they used. So, I think you’ll see Democrats focus on how the president reacted to that false accusation. And I think you’ll see Republicans focus on why the false accusation was made in the first place? Who did we mistrust to get to this point where we spent so many millions and so many months investigating something that wasn’t true?”
During his last appearance on Fox, Gaetz said he and Carlson had been out to dinner with Gaetz’s female companion who had been “threatened by the FBI.” Carlson said he didn’t “remember the woman you are speaking of or the context, at all” and later said it was “one of the weirdest interviews I have ever conducted.”