Trump plans to skip Fox News debate, sit for Tucker Carlson interview: report

Former President Trump plans to skip next week’s first Republican presidential primary debate and instead sit for an interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, according to a new report.

Trump has made the decision to skip the debate and is currently planning to sit for an interview with Carlson, The New York Times reported, noting the former president has spent the last several days soliciting feedback from aides and allies on whether to participate in the debate.

When contacted for comment on the reported agreement between Trump and Carlson, an aide for the former president told The Hill his campaign “hadn’t confirmed anything on our end” and cautioned against “getting too far ahead” as it relates to the former president’s plans.

A source close to Carlson told NBC News on Friday the conservative media personality is “always in discussions” with all candidates, adding nothing had been firmly set between the former president and Carlson.

Trump, the front-runner for the GOP nomination, has for weeks signaled a hesitation to participate in the Aug. 23 debate, which is being hosted by the Republican National Committee and will be broadcast on Fox News.

The former president has in recent months ridiculed Fox, the top-watched cable news channel, for what he has said is fawning coverage of his political enemies. Trump has also said he feels that participating in the debate would allow his GOP rivals to attack him needlessly.

Fox hosts and executives have, at the same time, been urging Trump both publicly and privately to participate in the first debate, which is sure to serve as a major media spectacle and be one of the biggest ratings nights for the channel of the year.

Trump’s reported selecting of Carlson to host a counterprogramming event of sorts to the first debate can be seen a significant slight to Fox, the cable news giant for which Carlson was at one time its top-rated host.

Fox pulled Carlson off the air in April just days after it agreed to pay Dominion Voting Systems $787 million to settle defamation claims brought by the company in connection with the network’s airing of false information about its software being promoted by Trump and his allies.

As part of the months-long litigation, Dominion unearthed internal communications from several top executives and hosts at Fox showing them throwing cold water on Trump’s false claims of widespread voter fraud and criticizing the former president.

Among those communications were text messages from Carlson, who in one widely publicized message wrote he “hated” Trump “passionately” and expressed he “couldn’t wait” until the network was able to ignore him.

Other messages sent by Carlson showed him disparaging female executives at the network and complaining about how the company was being run in the days following the 2020 election.

Since being ousted by Fox, Carlson has started an online version of his popular prime-time show on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

Fox earlier this year sent Carlson, who is still under contract with the network, a cease-and-desist letter over his new online show, claiming he had violated the terms of his contract.

Brett Samuels contributed reporting.

Updated: 3:57 p.m.

Tags Tucker Carlson