It has been over 100 days since Donald J. Trump was interviewed on Fox News.
The network, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch and spurred Mr Trump’s rise from real estate developer and reality TV star to the White House, now often bypasses him in favor of featuring other Republicans.
In the former president’s opinion, according to two people who spoke to him recently, Fox’s ignoring him is a far worse affront than posting stories and comments he complains are “too negatives”. The network effectively displaces it from its preferred location: the center of the information cycle.
July 22, as Mr. Trump rallied supporters in Arizona and teased the possibility of running for president in 2024, saying “We may have to do it again,” Fox News opted not to show the event – the same approach it’s taken for nearly all of its rallies this year. Instead, the network aired Laura Ingraham’s interview with a possible rival for the 2024 Republican nomination, Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida. It was the first of two prime-time interviews Fox aired with Mr. DeSantis in the span of five days; he appeared on Tucker Carlson’s show shortly after talking to Mrs. Ingraham.
When Mr. Trump addressed a rally of conservatives in Washington this week, Fox did not broadcast the speech live. He instead showed a few clips after he finished speaking. On the same day, he broadcast live – for 17 minutes – a speech by former Vice President Mike Pence.
Mr Trump recently complained to aides that even Sean Hannity, his 20-year-old friend, doesn’t seem to pay him much attention anymore, a person who spoke to him recalled.
The snubs are no coincidence, according to several people close to Mr. Murdoch’s Fox Corporation who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the company’s operations. This month, the New York Post and the Wall Street Journal, both owned by Mr. Murdoch, published scathing editorials about Mr. Trump’s actions regarding the Jan. 6, 2021 riot on Capitol Hill.
Skepticism about the former chairman extends to the highest levels of the company, according to two people familiar with the thinking of Mr Murdoch, the chairman, and his son Lachlan, the chief executive. It also reflects concerns Republicans in Washington, like Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Minority Leader, have expressed to the Murdochs about the potential damage Mr. Trump could do to the party’s chances in the upcoming election, by especially his chances of taking control of the Senate.
The Murdochs’ unease with Mr. Trump stems from his refusal to accept his electoral defeat, according to two people familiar with those conversations, and is generally in line with the views of Republicans, like Mr. McConnell, who have primarily backed the former president but long ago declared the election settled and condemned his efforts to void it.
A person familiar with the Murdochs’ thinking said they continued to insist Fox News made the right decision when its decision desk predicted Joseph R. Biden would win Arizona just after 11 p.m. election – a decision that infuriated Mr. Trump and short-circuited his attempt to prematurely declare victory. That person said Lachlan Murdoch privately described the decision desk call, which came days before other networks concluded that Mr. Trump had lost the state, as something only Fox “had. the courage and the science to do”.
Donald Trump, post-presidency
The former president remains a powerful force in Republican politics.
Some people have acknowledged that Fox’s current approach to Mr. Trump may be temporary. If Mr. Trump announces he is running for president, or is indicted, he 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 spokeswoman for Mr. Trump.
Mr. Trump’s relationship with Murdoch’s media empire has long been a complicated one — an arrangement of mutual convenience and distrust that has seen sensational ups and downs since Mr. Trump first spoke out on the New York Post gossip pages in the 1980s.
But the feud between the former president and the media baron that helped set the Republican Party agenda for decades is happening in a much larger and more fragmented media landscape, as new personalities and platforms make it much more difficult for a single medium to change the narrative. . Mr. Trump’s allies in conservative media corners more loyal to him — including Breitbart, Newsmax and talk radio — are already seizing on the turn inside Fox as evidence of betrayal.
Mr. Trump seems ready to fight. He blasted ‘Fox & Friends’ this week on his social media service, Truth Social, for being ‘terrible’ and ‘going to the ‘dark side” after one of his hosts mentioned that Mr. DeSantis had beaten Mr Trump. in two recent polls from a hypothetical 2024 Republican primary. Then, offering no evidence, he blamed Paul Ryan, the Republican former Speaker of the House, with whom he often clashed. Mr. Ryan serves on the board of directors of Fox Corporation.
The Post often sided with Mr. Trump in its editorials when he was president. But it sometimes went against him, like when Mr. Trump refused to concede the election in 2020 and the newspaper’s front-page headline rang out: “Mr. President, STOP THE MADNESS.
Mr. Trump found a home on Fox News when network founder Roger Ailes gave him a weekly slot on “Fox & Friends” in 2011. Mr. Trump used the platform to connect with the nascent movement of the Tea Party as it defeated establishment Republicans. like Mr. Ryan and spreading a lie about the authenticity of President Barack Obama’s birth certificate.
Initially, neither Mr. Ailes nor Mr. Murdoch viewed Mr. Trump as a serious presidential candidate. Mr. Ailes told colleagues at the time that he believed 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 on Mr. Trump’s rise in the GOP And, when Ivanka Trump told Mr. Murdoch over lunch in 2015 that his father intended to run, Mr. Murdoch reportedly didn’t even look up from his soup, according to “The Devil’s Bargain”, by Joshua Green.
But as Mr. Trump grew bigger than any outlet — and even bigger than his own political party — he was able to turn the tide and rally his supporters against Fox or any outlet he deemed too critical of his regard. He regularly used Twitter to attack Fox personalities like Megyn Kelly, Charles Krauthammer and Karl Rove.
The network could always criticize him in its news coverage. But now the skepticism is stronger — in asides from news anchors, in interviews with voters or in opinion pieces for other Murdoch-owned properties.
Referring to the congressional investigation into the January 6 attack, Fox presenter Bret Baier said it made Mr Trump “horrible” by detailing that it took him 187 minutes to be persuaded to say anything publicly about the riot. A recent segment on FoxNews.com featured interviews with Trump supporters who were extremely unenthusiastic about a possible third campaign, saying they thought “his time was up” and that he was “a little too polarizing”. Afterwards, they shared 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 is prerecorded on a Fox screen that hasn’t been approved and sanctioned at the highest level of management,” said Eric Bolling, a former host of Fox who is now with Newsmax. “Especially when it comes to a presidential election.”
There is no denying that Fox News remains Fox News. In recent weeks, viewers have seen the occasional critical coverage of Mr. Trump, but, unlike other news networks, Fox has chosen to air its own prime-time programming rather than committee hearings. tasked with investigating the January 6 attack. (The author of this article is an MSNBC contributor.) Mr. Carlson, Mr. Hannity and Ms. Ingraham dismiss the hearings as a “show trial.”
“They’re lying and we’re not going to help them do that,” Mr Carlson said. “What we will do instead is try to tell you the truth.”
The network aired the Jan. 6 committee hearings during the daytime, when far fewer viewers are tuned in. But other segments during the day and early evening air violent crime in Democratic-run cities or Mr. Biden’s verbal and physical stumbles. As the government announced that a key indicator of economic health had declined last quarter, the headline Fox scribbled on the screen read: “Biden denies recession as US enters recession.”
On April 13, Mr. Trump called Mr. Hannity’s show and went through a list of crises he said wouldn’t happen “if we had won this election, which we did.”
He has not been interviewed on the network since.