The owner of fringe-right channel Real America’s Voice is investigating whether pro-Trump journalist John Solomon and his co-host Amanda Head were fooled on Thursday night by a prank caller purporting to be former President Donald Trump.
Solomon, a former Fox News contributor and a key architect of Trump’s Ukraine conspiracy that led to the ex-president’s first impeachment, boasted on Thursday night that the little-watched network had scored an “exclusive” phone interview with Trump. However, immediately after the conversation began, it was clear that something wasn’t right.
The caller’s voice sounded choppy, stilted and artificial, and at times throughout the nearly 17-minute interview, the so-called Trump appeared to glitch and cut out. After clips of the interview were shared on social media by Solomon and Real America’s Voice, criticism and speculation began pouring in—including from many Trump supporters—that this was definitely not the ex-president and appeared to be an AI program.
Robert J. Sigg, the owner of the network, told The Daily Beast on Thursday night that the “Trump” on the call sounded like ChatGPT to him and that “an internal investigation will be needed” into whether his hosts were duped.
“This is not the company values that the American people tune in for,” Sigg added. “This is a major oversight by John and Amanda both. Our news directors will need to go through additional training about journalism practice and how to present the facts and truth to the American people.”
Solomon, who also serves as one of Trump’s designated representatives to the National Archives, insisted that it was indeed the former president on the phone with him during the lengthy interview.
“It’s not AI, it was President Trump,” Solomon asserted when questioned by The Daily Beast Thursday night. “You can call the staff and check with them yourself. It was definitely President Trump without any doubt.”
Asked about Sigg’s claim that the caller sounded like an artificial intelligence bot, Solomon doubled down on the interview being genuine. According to the Just The News founder, he said he set up the interview with Trump’s staff, discussed in advance the topics they would talk about, and “called them at the right location.”
The Trump campaign did not immediately return a request for comment.
Solomon, who wrote for Newsweek/The Daily Beast years ago, has been closely tied to the president since early in Trump’s tenure in the White House. He frequently appeared on Fox News and hyped up his MAGA-friendly reporting for The Hill, where he was executive vice president of digital video.
In 2018, Hill staffers expressed concerns about Solomon’s close relationship with Fox News host and Trump confidant Sean Hannity and his questionable reporting on the “deep state,” prompting the outlet to move Solomon to the opinion side. Hannity, though, would still refer to Solomon as an “investigative journalist” during his regular appearances as a Fox News contributor.
Solomon was a key figure in the 2019 impeachment of Trump, as his opinion pieces for The Hill helped fuel Team Trump’s attempts to dig up dirt in Ukraine on then-candidate Joe Biden. After it was revealed that Solomon had been in frequent contact with Rudy Giuliani and Ukrainian associates, The Hill announced that it was “conducting a meticulous review” of Solomon’s work.
In the end, The Hill’s editor-in-chief found that Solomon published over a dozen misleading columns and the paper shouldn’t have published them as news reports. Fox News’ research team also questioned Solomon’s credibility, claiming he played an “indispensable role” in the “disinformation campaign” on Ukraine. Eventually, he would part ways with the conservative cable giant.