Fox News, once home to Trump, now often ignores him

It’s been over 100 days since Donald J. Trump was interviewed on Fox News.

The chain, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch and fueled the rise of Mr. From a real estate developer and reality TV star to the White House, Trump now often overlooks him in favor of showcasing other Republicans.

In the former president’s view, Fox’s ignoring him is a far worse affront than running stories and comments he’s complained are “too negative,” according to two people who have spoken to him recently. . The network is effectively displacing him from his favorite place: the center of the news cycle.

On July 22, while Mr. Trump rallies supporters in Arizona, teases 2024 presidential run, saying “Maybe we’ll have to do it again,” Fox News decided not to show the event, the same approach it has taken for nearly all of its rallies this year. Instead, the network aired Laura Ingraham’s interview with a possible challenger for the 2024 Republican nomination, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida. It was the first of two prime-time interviews that Fox aired with Mr. DeSantis in a five-day period; appeared on Tucker Carlson’s show shortly after speaking with Ms. Ingraham.

When Mr. Trump spoke at a gathering of conservatives in Washington this week, Fox did not broadcast the speech live. Instead, he showed a few clips after he finished speaking. That same day, it broadcast live, for 17 minutes, a speech by former Vice President Mike Pence.

Mr. Trump has recently complained to aides that even Sean Hannity, his friend of 20 years, doesn’t seem to be paying him much attention anymore, a person who spoke to him recalled.

The snubs are not accidental, according to several people close to Mr. Fox Corporation. Murdoch, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the company’s operations. This month, The New York Post i The Wall Street Journalboth owned by Mr. Murdoch, published blistering editorials about the actions of Mr. Trump on the January 6, 2021 Capitol riot.

Skepticism toward the former president extends to the highest levels of the company, according to two people familiar with Mr. Murdoch, the chairman, and his son Lachlan, the chief executive. It also reflects concerns that Washington Republicans, such as Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, have expressed to the Murdochs about the potential damage that Mr. Trump could hurt the party’s chances in the next election, especially its chances of taking control of the Senate.

The Murdochs’ uneasiness with Mr. Trump comes from his refusal to accept his election loss, according to two people familiar with those conversations, and is generally in sync with the views of Republicans, such as Mr. McConnell, who mostly supported the former president but long ago said the election was fixed and condemned his efforts to overturn it.

A person familiar with the Murdochs’ thinking said they continued to insist Fox News made the right call when its decision desk projected Joseph R. Biden to win Arizona just after 11 p.m. on election night, a move which angered mr. Trump and short-circuited his attempt to declare victory prematurely. This person said Lachlan Murdoch had privately described the decision desk call, which came days before other networks concluded Mr Trump had lost the state, as only Fox “had the courage and the science to do “.

The former president remains a powerful force in Republican politics.

Some people acknowledged that Fox’s current approach to Mr. Trump could be temporary. If Mr. Trump announces he is running for president, or if he is impeached, it will warrant more coverage, they said.

A spokesman for Mr. McConnell declined to comment. A Fox Corporation spokeswoman also declined to comment, as did a Trump spokeswoman.

The relationship between Mr Trump and the Murdoch media empire has long been complicated: an arrangement of mutual convenience and mistrust that has had sensational ups and downs since Mr Trump was first discussed in the gossip pages of The New York Post in the 1980s.

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But the fight between the former president and the media baron who has helped set the Republican Party’s agenda for decades is playing out in a much larger and fragmented media landscape, as new personalities and platforms make it much more difficult for any medium to change the narrative. . Mr. Trump’s allies in the corners of the conservative media most loyal to him — including Breitbart, Newsmax and talk radio — are already seizing the turnaround at Fox as evidence of a betrayal.

Mr Trump seems ready to fight. he shattered “Fox & Friends” this week on its social media service, Truth Social, for being “terrible” and having “gone to the ‘dark side'” after one of its hosts mentioned that Mr. DeSantis had beaten Mr. Trump in two. recent polls in a hypothetical 2024 Republican primary contest. Then, without offering evidence, he blamed Paul Ryan, the former Republican speaker of the House, with whom he often clashed. Mr. Ryan is a member of the board of directors of Fox Corporation.

The Post often sided with Mr. Trump in his editorials when he was president. But occasionally it went against him, as when Mr. Trump refused to concede the election in 2020 and the newspaper’s front-page headline read: “Mr. President, STOP THE MADNESS.

Mr. Trump found a home at Fox News when the network’s founder, Roger Ailes, gave him a weekly slot on “Fox & Friends” in 2011. Mr. Trump used the platform to connect with the nascent Tea Party movement while bashing establishment Republicans. like Mr. Ryan and spread a lie about the authenticity of President Barack Obama’s birth certificate.

Initially, neither Mr. Wings nor Mr. Murdoch thought of Mr. Trump as a serious candidate for the presidency. Mr. Ailes told his colleagues at the time that he thought Mr. Trump was using his 2016 campaign to get a better deal with NBC, which aired “The Apprentice,” according to “Insurgency,” this reporter’s account of Mr. Trump in the GOP I, when Ivanka Trump told Mr. Murdoch at the lunch in 2015 that his father intended to introduce, Mr. Murdoch didn’t even look up from his soup, according to Joshua Green’s “The Devil’s Bargain.”

But as Mr. Trump became bigger than any news outlet, and even bigger than his own political party, he was able to turn around and rally his supporters against Fox or any other outlet he believed too much critical of him. He regularly used Twitter to attack Fox personalities such as Megyn Kelly, Charles Krauthammer and Karl Rove.

The network could always be critical of him in its news coverage. But now the skepticism is coming through louder, apart from news anchors, in interviews with voters or opinion pieces for other Murdoch-owned properties.

Referring to the congressional investigation into the January 6 attack, Fox host Bret Baier said he had made Mr Trump “look horrible” by detailing how it had taken him 187 minutes to convince him to say nothing publicly about the riot. A recent segment featured interviews with Trump supporters who were overwhelmingly unenthusiastic about a potential third campaign, saying they thought “his time has passed” and that it was “a little too polarizing.” They then offered their thoughts on who should replace him on the ticket. They unanimously nominated Mr. DeSantis.

“I spent 11 years at Fox, and I know that nothing pre-recorded comes to a Fox screen that hasn’t been shut down and sanctioned at the highest levels of management,” said Eric Bolling, a former Fox anchor who is now at Newsmax . “Especially when it has to do with a presidential election.”

There’s no denying that Fox News is still Fox News. Viewers in recent weeks have occasionally seen critical coverage of Mr. Trump, but unlike other news networks, Fox has chosen to air its own prime-time programming instead of the committee hearings investigating the Jan. 6 attack. (The author of this article is an MSNBC contributor.) Mr. Carlson, Mr. Hannity and Mrs. Ingraham dismissed the hearings as a “show trial.”

“They’re lying, and we’re not going to help them do it,” said Mr. Carlson. “What we’re going to do instead is try to tell you the truth.”

The network aired the Jan. 6 committee hearings during the day, when far fewer viewers are tuning in. But other segments throughout the day and into the early evening replay violent crimes in Democratic-led cities or Mr. Biden’s verbal and physical stumbles. When the government announced that a key indicator of economic health declined last quarter, the headline Fox ran on the screen read: “Biden Denies Recession as US Goes into Recession.”

On April 13, Mr. Trump called Mr. Hannity and went through a list of crises he claimed wouldn’t be happening “if we had won this election, which we did.”

Since then he has not been interviewed on the network.


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