Before the news broke that the Department of Justice was investigating Rep. Matt Gaetz over an alleged sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl, the Florida Republican was reportedly shopping around for a new job as a cable news host. Axios had reported that Gaetz, who denies the misconduct allegations, was "seriously considering" leaving Congress for a gig at Newsmax. Additional reporting from The Daily Beast, published on Wednesday afternoon, revealed that Gaetz was casting more widely within conservative media, angling for a job at One America News Network (OAN) or Fox News, among others.
And yet public statements by networks, in addition to reported insider sources, are casting doubt on Gaetz's prospects, despite his history as a frequent conservative media guest.
According to Axios, ahead of the New York Times' report on the probe Tuesday night, Gaetz "privately told confidants he's seriously considering not seeking re-election and possibly leaving Congress early for a job at Newsmax." Following the news of the Justice Department's investigation, reports have emerged noting that the flamboyant Donald Trump defender claimed to be eying opportunities at both the more mainstream Fox News and upstart OAN. But cable news networks appear to be distancing themselves from the congressman following reports of the probe and the subsequent claim made by Gaetz that he's actually the victim of an elaborate scheme to extort his family to the tune of $25 million.
Asked by The Daily Beast about the reports' veracity on Wednesday, the Florida congressman said he had been in talks with various networks about his "life after Congress."
"These conversations have been very general in nature and have never included me soliciting or receiving an offer of employment. There is not a single conservative television station I haven't had a passing conversation with about life after Congress," Gaetz told The Beast. "I have neither received nor solicited offers from any of them. But yes, I've talked to either executives, producers, or hosts at Newsmax, OAN, Fox, Fox Business, Real America's Voice, and probably others I'm forgetting in this moment as I focus intently on refuting false accusations against me."
A Fox News spokesperson refuted the claim that the network had been in talks with the congressman. "No one with any level of authority has had conversations with Matt Gaetz for any of our platforms, and we have no interest in hiring him," a Fox News media spokesperson told Salon.
Gaetz did appear on Fox News this week as a guest, where he apparently made quite an impression. Tucker Carlson, Fox's highest-rated primetime host, is reportedly fuming at Gaetz over the congressman's attempt to rope him into the controversy during an interview on "Tucker Carlson Tonight" that Carlson characterized immediately after as "one of the weirdest" he's conducted. "It pissed him off," a source familiar with Carlson's reaction to the interview told CNN's Oliver Darcy.
One America News CEO Robert Herring told The Daily Beast on Wednesday that "somebody did call me" to say that Gaetz "might be looking for" a cable news job, but that he thinks Gaetz should stick to politics. "Right now, I'm not really hiring anybody for talk shows. I think he is a great congressman, and I told [that 'somebody'] to tell him to stay there," Herring told The Beast. "That's what I want Congressman Gaetz to do."
Newsmax didn't immediately return a Salon request for comment, but the prospects of a gig for Gaetz there don't sound likely either. "Multiple Newsmax insiders also echoed similar doubts that Gaetz has any future as a cable-news host, with one source pointedly declaring, 'Highly doubt it, highly,'" The Beast reported.