President Trump has openly claimed to be at “war with the media”. But there’s one outlet in particular that Trump has warmed to, and that outlet is Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 25, 2017
Yes, that Rupert Murdoch. The same media mogul who owns The Sun, The Times, and the disgraced News of the World. The same empire that has helped to determine the fate of both Australian and British political parties in the past.
And while the budding relationship between Trump and Fox News is not yet set in stone, it is still very worrying.
Fox News wasn’t always a clear supporter of Trump’s presidential campaign
Before Trump declared his intention of running for the presidency, he was a weekly guest on a Fox News morning show. But during his presidential campaign, the outlet appeared reluctant to support him wholeheartedly. This was most noticeable in the ‘feud’ between Trump and Fox News‘s Megyn Kelly. A feud which saw tough questions from Kelly like:
You’ve called women you don’t like ‘fat pigs,’ ‘dogs,’ ‘slobs,’ and ‘disgusting animals… Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man we should elect as president? And how will you answer the charge from Hillary Clinton… that you are part of the war on women?
These exchanges led to Trump making crude statements, like when he told CNN:
[About Kelly] There was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever
And Kelly’s tough stance may have come from the top. New York Magazine wrote:
according to one high-level Fox source, it was Murdoch himself who directed Kelly to hammer Trump during the debut GOP debate, in Cleveland, that sparked the feud in the first place. “Rupert told her to do that,” the source said.
Initial differences of opinion between Murdoch and Trump
Mexican immigrants, as with all immigrants, have much lower crime rates than native born. Eg El Paso safest city in U.S. Trump wrong.
— Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch) July 12, 2015
Murdoch’s doubts about Trump perhaps arose from the billionaire’s protectionist promises. The idea that the US should buy American and hire American. The idea that other countries benefiting in any way from a trade deal with the US is a sign that the US is doing badly. And the idea that the current world order has disadvantaged the US, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
It’s perhaps unsurprising that Murdoch, born in Australia and in charge of a global media empire, would oppose such a hard line on globalisation.
Murdoch’s change of heart
When it became clear that Trump was the Republican front-runner, Murdoch quickly switched to outright support for his old friend. Perhaps unsurprisingly given that Murdoch has a reputation in the UK and Australia for supporting winners and ‘choosing’ prime ministers. A reputation that Trump’s main rival for the Republican nomination, Ted Cruz, was all too aware of.
Murdoch and The Sun supported Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, David Cameron, and now Theresa May. And opposition from The Sun has proven to be a problem for several would-be prime ministers. Like Labour’s Ed Miliband, for example.
But Murdoch’s position in the US is less imposing. Fox News certainly didn’t back Obama to become President, and he sailed into the presidency regardless. Murdoch does have a reputation of being a kingmaker, however, within the Republican Party. And it would do his image no good to carry on supporting a losing candidate. Also, it would make little financial sense for him to oppose a popular right-wing figure like Trump. As New York Magazine wrote:
it’s clear Trump is good for business. According to one Fox News producer, the channel’s ratings dip whenever an anti-Trump segment airs. A Fox anchor told me that the message from Roger Ailes’s executives is they need to go easy on Trump. “It’s, ‘Make sure we don’t go after Trump,’” the anchor said. “We’ve thrown in the towel.”
The current support of Fox News and Murdoch for Trump is not necessarily unconditional. For example, Trump has attracted some light criticism from Bill O’Reilly, who is the host of The O’Reilly Factor on Fox News. But that may just be for the appearance of balance, as others at Fox News (like Sean Hannity) have defended even Trump’s most controversial policies.
Trump and loyalty
President Trump is a man who values unfaltering loyalty. He has not only called critical media outlets “FAKE NEWS” in recent weeks, but he’s also slammed fellow Republicans for disagreeing with him. He was also allegedly unhappy with the performance of his press secretary Sean Spicer, even though Spicer had obeyed his order to lie about the size of his inauguration crowd.
At the moment, Murdoch and Fox News are in Trump’s favour. On 9 January, for example, Trump called Murdoch “a great guy” on Twitter. And it is becoming increasingly apparent that Trump is getting talking points from Fox News. But Trump is unpredictable, and that relationship could easily change with a bit too much criticism from Fox News.
So it seems Murdoch has a choice to make. Fox News can continue to show loyalty, supporting Trump and potentially tarnishing its brand forever. Or it can criticise him, and risk losing both viewers and influence in the White House (remember here that Murdoch isn’t fond of politicians he can’t influence).
For now, at least, it looks like Murdoch is going with option number one.
– Check out the Media Reform Coalition.
– See more TrumpWatch articles.
– Follow Trump’s ‘Promise Tracker’ here.
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?