The Hill has discovered that Brian Kilmeade, who co-hosts President Trump’s favorite morning program, “Fox & Friends,” is funding the president’s campaign to the tune of a cool $601.71.
This might not be shocking, as the hosts of “Fox & Friends” often sound as impressed by Trump as Trump sounds impressed by them.
But wait, says Kilmeade — there is a simple explanation: He did not realize he was making an official campaign contribution when he innocently purchased hundreds of dollars’ worth of Trump MAGA hat Christmas ornaments in the heady days after the 2016 election.
“There’s no secret, there’s no ‘ah ha’ moment,” Kilmeade told the Hill on Tuesday. “I had no idea that this would be considered a donation. I’m looking for something cool and unique for Christmas for adults after this historic election.”
His search led him to the iconic “Make America Great Again” baseball hat ornament, which the Trump campaign was selling for $149 a pop in November 2016.
The baubles were certainly unique. Commemorating “Trump’s commitment to the Christmas spirit,” they were molded from brass and finished in either 14-karat or 24-karat gold (the description on Trump’s website was inconsistent).
Some people assumed the ornaments were a hoax and deluged an Amazon.com page for the ornaments with one-star joke reviews. (“It tried to put my nativity figures in an internment camp. Would not buy again.”)
The price was slashed to $99 by the end of the year, and you can now buy one on DonaldJTrump.com for a mere $45.
If you do so today, a disclaimer will inform you that your money is going to Trump’s campaign. Kilmeade told the Hill that he didn’t see anything like that, and a Fox News representative said Kilmeade purchased the trinkets off a now-defunct website that may not have informed him.
They were “a little expensive in retrospect, but that was it,” Kilmeade told the Hill. “I had no idea that would go to a campaign contribution."
Federal Election Commission records show that the campaign logged Kilmeade’s $601.71 on the day of Trump’s inauguration in January 2017 and simultaneously rolled the donation forward to the 2020 primary campaign.
A Fox News spokesman did not directly respond when The Washington Post asked whether the network has any rules against campaign donations. The Hill reported that the network sent a statement to the effect that it “does not prohibit talent from buying holiday ornaments.”
While some news outlets do prohibit donations (Keith Olbermann was suspended from MSNBC after donating to Democratic candidates in 2010, for example), Fox News has tolerated the practice in the past. One of the network’s biggest starts, Sean Hannity, donated nearly $10,000 to Republicans in 2010 and advised Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016.
For his part, Trump is a fan of Fox News. He routinely praises the network’s right-leaning coverage while dismissing other major outlets as “fake news.”
That said, Kilmeade is occasionally critical of Trump — at least more so than his “Fox & Friends” co-hosts, one of whom has literally called Trump his friend. Kilmeade scolded the president this month, for example, after Trump mocked a woman who accused Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh of sexual assault.
On Wednesday’s episode of “Fox & Friends,” Kilmeade made no mention of his Christmas ornaments. It was a fairly typical episode, devoting half its airtime to ominous coverage of a migrant caravan in southern Mexico that Trump has been worried about lately.