New details of the divorce emerge.
There were warning sides for Trump even before the election that Rupert Murdoch, the proprietor of right wing media outlets like Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Post, was fading the president. Murdoch leaked to the press that he expected Trump to lose in a “landslide.”
Trump did just that.
It doesn’t appear that the falling out was ideological. Business for right wing media boomed under the unusual, tweet-obsessed president. Instead, it seemed to be a fact-based assessment of the electoral results. As one Murdoch lieutenant told The New York Times, “(the Murdochs) don’t tend to back losers.”
Which is why I found the following story so interesting. Murdoch’s The New York Post ran a story which claimed that a potential Trump book deal could top $100 million.
That, of course, is ridiculous.
A joint Obama book deal — both Barack and Michelle — got barely half of that. And that’s two. And that’s the Obamas. In the report’s own words, a “top book source threw cold water on those overheated estimates, saying the numbers ‘don’t sound accurate.’”
The report was aimed at an audience of one, the president. The Trump presidency is careening off the tracks, and Murdoch seems to be searching for an off ramp. Dangling financial carrots to a man with over $400 million in debt isn’t so much as factual reporting, but a desperate attempt to end Trump’s years with a semblance of dignity.
If the fake book deal wasn’t explicit enough, the editorial board of The New York Post was. In a piece titled “President Trump, your legacy is secure — stop the ‘stolen election’ rhetoric,” the paper laid out a pretty bleak future for Trump:
But the president’s aides have shown no evidence that the election was “stolen.” Where Trump won several key states by razor-thin margins to take the White House in 2016, Biden seems to have done the same this year. It undermines faith in democracy, and faith in the nation, to push baseless conspiracies. Get Rudy Giuliani off TV. Ask for the recounts you are entitled to, wish Biden well, and look to the future.
If Trump persists in wild talk to the contrary, he’ll lead his people into irrelevance and marginalize his own voice. His years in the White House have transformed the nation, but refusing to let go now will make it easier for his enemies to undo it all.
The Wall Street Journal, another media enterprise from the Australian billionaire, presents itself as a business-centered newspaper for adults. Last week, they too issued a stern warning to the president, with the editorial board predicting that “Trump’s legacy will be diminished greatly if his final act is a bitter refusal to accept a legitimate defeat.”
Fox News, which is also Murdoch-owned, is more complicated. The “opinion” shows — Hannity, Carlson, Ingraham and the like — are doing everything possible to sow distrust in the electoral process.
The “news” part of the operation, itself tainted with right wing favoritism, is faring better, but it is far from perfect. Memos obtained by CNN instructed anchors not to use the term “President-elect” when describing Biden. Instead, Fox News employees were instructed to use something like “Biden has enough electoral votes to win the presidency.”
But credit where credit is due: on Monday, the channel cut away from White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany when she accused Democrats of widespread voter fraud without providing any evidence. Well done, Cavuto.
Additionally, the Fox News decision desk was the first to report that Biden had won Arizona. This prompted Jared Kushner to reach out to Rupert Murdoch personally and ask that the call be rescinded.
When examining the totality of the evidence, it does appear that the Murdoch’s have soured on the president. Or at least soured on his chances of winning. Here is another piece of evidence, courtesy of Brian Stetler:
Count this as a point for those who believe Murdoch is divorcing himself from Trump. A top Murdoch lieutenant, Col Allan, confirmed he will retire next year from the New York Post, NYT’s Katie Robertson scooped Friday.
The move comes as Robertson reported that editors at the Post have told staffers to be tougher in their coverage of Trump, with defeat looming over him.
Since returning to the Post in 2019, Allan has been a key figure inside the tabloid, shaping coverage and moving it in a pro-Trump direction. Last summer, for instance, CNN reported that Allan ordered the removal of a story on a Trump sexual assault allegation. So news of Allan’s departure next year is raising more than a few eyebrows.
Only the loyalists on Fox News remain in the president’s corner. The rest of the apparatus, as well as the newspapers, seem to have acknowledged the facts of the situation. Murdoch seems to be dangling carrots and sticks for Trump, attempting to allow the president to save face will gently nudging him off center stage. So far, the efforts seem futile, as the Twitter fact-checkers are working overtime to curb the misinformation coming from @realDonaldTrump.
But time will tell.