All of this makes it easy to forget that Trump was never Murdoch and Fox’s first choice for president in 2016, or even their second. The network radiated better for Ted Cruz and Mario Rubio. “When will Donald Trump stop embarrassing his friends, let alone the whole country?” Murdoch famous tweeted in July 2015. Fox and Trump rumbled so often during the 2016 peak season – Trump even skipped the Fox primary debate – some observers called it a “feud. “Murdoch rejected Trump’s signature policy immigrant, the Muslim ban and trade.
But as the Machiavellian that he is, Murdoch courted Trump when he emerged as a likely candidate, and Trump, who never scorned an avid television audience, said yes.
The fractures were there from the start. Trump insisted on wearing the pants in the family and when the plea didn’t come from the Fox News Channel, he watched OAN and Newsmax, who outraged Murdoch. Trump also demands loyalty for the enjoyment of his intimacies and Murdoch couldn’t stand it. He made Trump famous as “not correct” and “damn idiot, “And as early as the summer of 2017, his many journalistic outlets did not deter him sniff with Trump and his family. One of the biggest anti-Trump stories about the President’s Mistresseswas broken by Murdochs Wall Street Journaland Fox’s Chris Wallace pestered the president with a slash during the re-election campaign interview.
The final reason for the breakup, if you will call it that, came on election night when Fox was the first to call Arizona for Joe Biden New York Times reportedand urged Jared Kushner to contact Rupert Murdoch and a Trump aide to request a withdrawal. For the Trump team, this had to be a bigger betrayal than finding Rupert in bed with Bernie Sanders. When the Liberals blinked in amazement and discovered a sudden, unfamiliar respect for Fox over his projection, there wasn’t much marriage left to save. Trump and Fox only had to resolve the details of the split.
It is tempting to think of the Fox-Trump marriage as an ideological thing that marries two passionately right-wing lovers in perfect unison. The combination worked for both parties for several years. Trump got a semi-reliable wingman on Fox’s public opinion program and Murdoch got what he always seeks from politicians: access. But Murdoch, who was married four times himself, never considered pairings permanent. As Murdoch’s biographer –David Folkenflik, William Shawcross, Michael Wolff, Neil Chenoweth and the rest – showed that his political unions were always expedient, transactional, temporary. He helped the Tories bury Labor in Britain in 1992 – “It’s the sun that won it” Sun Tabloid crowed– and then moved to Labor to help Tony Blair win in 1997. He submitted to the new government so much that a Blair spokesman for Murdoch “effectively became a member of Blair’s cabinet. “Blair eventually became Godfather to one of Murdoch’s daughters.
If you put the ideological binoculars aside, with the Liberals, most of the press critics, and the Media Matters for America gang looking at Fox News for a moment, you can take a look at what the network valued in Trump beyond politics. The true author of the network, founder Roger Ailes, who became a Trump advisor after him resigned on sexual harassment charges, Trump saw “an eligible television product” to pinch observation by Professor Michael Socolow of the University of Maine. Ailes discovered that Trump was someone who could anchor viewers to his channel, produce hours of monetizable airtime, and fill the trough with an endless supply of hot topics that his commentators could heat up and serve over and over again. In addition, Trump was ready to go on the air or make phoners on the shortest invitation. Ailes was not alone in his appreciation. Jeff Zucker perceived the same thing in Trump when he cast him in the cast apprentice at NBC, and later in the 2016 peak season, instructed CNN’s cameras to roll non-stop at Trump rallies and events.
The truest thing to say about politics and the entertainment business is that ultimately every political career comes to an ugly end and every show is canceled. For the longest time, it seemed, the Trump show on Fox provided for an extension of four years. But audiences and voters – like husbands and wives – can be a moody bunch. They keep wanting more of it until the day comes when they stop doing it, and the only solution is to get them aside or divorce. Such a day came for Trump on Tuesday. But don’t worry about him and Fox. He can always find an appearance as a reverse mortgage seller on cable television. Fox now has an entire hot house full of Trump seedlings – Tom Cotton, Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, Mike Pompeo, to name a few – that it could grow in time for the 2024 season. You have my word: the show will go on.
Send your seedling recommendations to [email protected]. My Email notifications want a fox show. My Twitter Feed watches John Dickerson no matter what program CBS places him on. My RSS feed says destroy your television.