In a surprising move that raises eyebrows across the political spectrum, Fox News has slammed the door on surrogates for former President Donald Trump from entering the post-debate “spin room” following Wednesday’s inaugural Republican debate. This striking decision, delivered just hours before the showdown at Milwaukee’s Fiserv Forum, is a tactical play that reverberates beyond the event itself.
The prohibition comes hot on the heels of Trump’s declaration that he would not be partaking in the debate. The ex-president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., who had signaled his presence as a surrogate for his father, now finds himself shut out of the post-debate media scrum. Kimberly Guilfoyle, Trump Jr.’s fiancée, who was poised to manage media interactions for the former president, is also caught in the no-entry zone.
While Fox News has argued that the ban applies to all candidates who didn’t make the cut for the debate, it has been met with skepticism. Observers have questioned whether this sweeping prohibition disproportionately targets Trump and his allies. Nevertheless, Fox News is making a couple of exceptions, allowing surrogates who attend the debate as guests of media organizations to join the fray.
Prominent figures like Kari Lake, the unsuccessful Arizona Republican gubernatorial candidate, and Reps. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) and Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) were planning to be present as advocates for Trump and contenders in the 2024 GOP primary front-runner, as reported by CNN.
Trump’s choice to opt out of the first GOP debate, citing his “legendary” poll numbers, has put him at odds with the likes of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, former Vice President Mike Pence, Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, and North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum. These candidates are slated to participate in the debate, which is set to air at 9 p.m. on Fox News Channel.
Fox News’ unprecedented decision to bar Trump allies from the debate spin room has the potential to ruffle feathers within the Republican sphere, adding an intriguing layer of drama to an already contentious primary season.