“Fox & Friends” co-hosts, from left, Steve Doocy, Ainsley Earhardt and Brian Kilmeade. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
Media critic

Fox News has issued a forceful statement announcing the cancellation of its involvement in a fundraising event involving fired host Bill O’Reilly at Trump International Hotel in Washington. Under the scheme, a conservative nonprofit named Foundation for Liberty and American Greatness (FLAG) invited O’Reilly — who reached settlements with female colleagues for sexual harassment and mistreatment — to speak at a fundraiser, with O’Reilly as the draw:

And somehow, a sweetener involving the phenomenally awful morning show “Fox & Friends” appeared throughout the donation promotion, as reported by Media Matters for America:

How did that get there? “We had no knowledge of this and we are not allowing FOX & Friends to be part of any donation package,” noted a network spokesperson in a prepared statement. The founder and executive director of FLAG is Nick Adams, a conservative who was born in Australia but loves the United States. “What are these values that make America exceptional? Individualism, not collectivism. Patriotism, not relativism. Optimism, not pessimism. Limited government, not the nanny state. God, not Caesar. Faith, not secularism. E pluribus Unum, not multiculturalism. Life, not death. Equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome. Goodness, not moral equivalence,” wrote Adams in a July 2015 piece on FoxNews.com.

Adams has appeared occasionally on Fox News programming, including a March 2017 hit with … Bill O’Reilly. The two bonded over their diagnosis of the country’s core problem. “I think political correctness is pretty much behind every single problem that we see in America today,” said Adams on the program, among the last that O’Reilly hosted. Also:

In light of the donation scheme, Adams may have to work a bit harder to get the FLAG message to the TV-viewing public. “We were in touch with Nick Adams at FLAG as soon as this came to light and it was immediately canceled – he used FOX & Friends and FOX News Channel for his own personal gain and he will no longer appear on the show as a guest,” said the statement from a Fox News spokesperson.

The Erik Wemple Blog has attempted numerous times to secure comment from Adams. Is it fair to claim that he “used” Fox News — or did he have a willing partner somewhere along the line? After all, Adams has appeared on “Fox & Friends,” and a host of the franchise’s weekend edition — Pete Hegseth — sits on the FLAG Advisory Council. Asked about just that matter, a Fox News spokesperson said that Adams, indeed, had acted on his own, without any involvement by Hegseth.

One moment after this post was published, Adams sent the Erik Wemple Blog a statement confirming Fox News’s account: “FLAG acted on our own. The wording on the website was an honest mistake. The moment FLAG became aware of it, we took action to correct it.”

Whatever the logistics, the fundraiser marks an unfortunate moment for Fox News. Since it forced out former (and late) chief Roger Ailes in 2016 and O’Reilly one year ago — both in the aftermath of sexual harassment scandals — the network has taken steps to fortify its HR department and otherwise prevent a lapse into the bad old days. The appearance of “Fox & Friends” on a fundraiser headlined by Bill O’Reilly can’t help.