Fox News execs privately met with Trump hoping to persuade him to join GOP primary debate

Fox News execs privately met with Trump hoping to persuade him to join GOP primary debate

Former President Donald Trump has a long history of attacking people on the right he considers insufficiently loyal — including right-wing Fox News, which was sued for defamation by Dominion Voting Systems after promoting the false and thoroughly debunked claim that its equipment was used to help Democrats steal the 2020 election from Trump. Fox News agreed to pay Dominion $787.5 million to settle that civil lawsuit.

Trump has slammed Fox News for everything from firing top-rated host Tucker Carlson to being friendly with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who, according to countless polls, is trailing Trump badly in the 2024 GOP presidential primary. But according to New York Times reporters Jonathan Swan and Maggie Haberman, Trump recently "had a private dinner with the top leadership at Fox News" — including CEO Suzanne Scott and President Jay Wallace.

Three sources, Swan and Haberman report in an article published on August 2, told the Times that the Fox News execs were hoping to persuade Trump to attend the first Republican presidential primary debate for the 2024 election — which Fox News and the Republican National Committee (RNC) will be hosting in Milwaukee on Wednesday, August 23. Trump, they note, has "been vocal about probably skipping the first debate."

READ MORE: Trump 'privately boasted' about the Fox News interview legal experts say was a 'disaster'

"Despite Mr. Trump's caustic attacks on Fox News over the past several days on his social media site, Truth Social, the two-hour dinner was described as cordial," Swan and Haberman explain. "The Fox executives made a soft appeal for Mr. Trump to participate in the debate, two of the people familiar with the dinner said, telling the former president that he excels on the center stage and that it presents an opportunity for him to show off his debate skills. Several people who have tried pushing Mr. Trump to debate in recent weeks have argued that if he does not show up, he could be giving an opening to other candidates to perform well."

The reporters add, "Mr. Trump told the Fox executives that he had not yet made a decision and would keep an open mind, the three people said. The Fox team requested the meeting."

Despite facing three criminal indictments — and possibly a fourth if a grand jury indicts Trump in Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis' case — the former president remains 2024's GOP presidential primary frontrunner. DeSantis, the primary's second-place candidate, was trailing Trump by 43 percent in a Morning Consult poll released in late July. Other late July polls found Trump ahead of DeSantis by 36 percent (The Economist/YouGov) or 37 percent (New York Times/Siena College).

READ MORE: Fox News labels Donald Trump the 'President of the United States' and Joe Biden a 'wannabe dictator'

The New York Times' full report is available at this link (subscription required).

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