Former President Trump has typically been able to turn to Fox News for comfort during his tenure. Disagreements arose from time to time, and Trump occasionally made headlines by following up personalities on Fox — most famously Megyn Kelly during a 2015 GOP presidential primary debate.
But for the most part, Trump, a rabid cable news follower, was able to tune in to see star Fox News anchors praising him and his administration while berating his critics and political enemies.
Trump still has his followers on the network, but the dynamic between a former president openly flirting with yet another White House run and Rupert Murdoch’s top media object is definitely changing.
For one, Fox is more focused on President Biden, who is the subject of relentless prime-time attacks, than it is on Trump, and the network did not air Trump’s speech in Washington, DC this week, although it did air part of an earlier speech on Tuesday former Vice President Mike Pence.
“Trump’s superpower gets all the coverage. That doesn’t happen anymore. Fox doesn’t cover him 24 hours a day,” said Daniel Cassino, a media expert who wrote a 2016 book on the network’s influence on American politics. “So it seems frustrating that he’s not dominating Fox like he used to be.”
That tension boiled over this week when Trump lashed out at Fox and its flagship morning program Fox & Friends after two of the show’s longtime co-hosts threw cold water at polls and suggested young voters voted Trump the best choice for Republicans kept trying to win back the White House.
Other Murdoch-owned media outlets have separately fired op-eds critical of Trump in the wake of damaging revelations by the House panel investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol.
“Character is revealed in a crisis, and Mr. Pence passed his trial on January 6,” the Wall Street Journal editorial board wrote last week. “Mr. Trump failed him completely.”
“Mr. Trump took an oath to defend the Constitution and as Commander-in-Chief had a duty to protect the Capitol from a mob attacking it on his behalf. He declined,” the board said.
The New York Post, also owned by Murdoch, tore up Trump in a separate editorial.
“It is up to the Department of Justice to decide whether this is a crime. But, as a matter of principle and for reasons of character, Trump has shown himself unworthy to once again be the leader of this country,” he wrote. “His sole focus was finding means – damn the consequences – to block the peaceful transfer of power. There is no other explanation, just as there is no defense, for his refusal to stop the violence.”
Trump complained in a statement Tuesday that Fox, the Journal and the Post “were always against me until I won.”
news corp declined to comment on Trump’s recent attacks.
A Trump representative did not respond to a request for comment on suggestions that he fell out of favor with Murdoch.
Clashes between Trump and Murdoch’s conservative media empire are not uncommon.
The former president was furious with the outlet’s decision to call Arizona on election night for Biden and has had a number of arguments with one of his former top anchors, Chris Wallace, ahead of the election.
Several of Fox’s top figures were also critical of Trump after the 2020 election.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ recent rise to the national spotlight has given Murdoch’s news outlets a facelift to present to millions of viewers and readers as a potential successor to Trump as leader of the Republican Party and conservative movement.
British pundit Piers Morgan, whom Murdoch recently hired to host a show on Britain’s TalkTV, penned an op-ed in the Post earlier this summer specifically urging Conservative voters in the US to “drop Trump” and to put their support behind DeSantis.
“I think Trump, quite frankly, is a deadweight to Fox and Murdoch,” said AJ Bauer, a University of Alabama professor who researches and analyzes trends in conservative media. “He’s done a lot of very helpful work for them, he’s nurtured them for four, five, six years, but they’re not as loyal as he expects and as he needs for his political winds to change.”
Some say if Trump wins the GOP presidential nomination again, Murdoch and the former president could put aside their public feuds, as they have done in years past.
“When Trump runs for president in 2024 and buries the field, Murdoch will have ample time to do what he traditionally does: place his bet on the leading pony,” Jack Shafer, the longtime media writer, said in a responding Column on this week’s Journal and Post editorials. “Like two powerful gangsters arguing over how to divide the loot, Murdoch and Trump will reconcile when they realize it is in their mutual interest to reconcile.”
Trump also still gets a lot of prime-time coverage on Fox, which he likes.
Host Laura Ingraham responded to Justice Department news Tuesday night implicating Trump in his ongoing Jan. 6 investigation by calling it “a political vendetta to prevent anyone from running for office and being successful and running for the presidency again.” Millions and millions of Americans will win.”
His colleague Sean Hannity, a longtime personal friend of Trump, routinely denounced the Jan. 6 panel as a “witch hunt” without merit.
UPDATED: 8:59 a.m