The Australian-born media mogul Rupert Murdoch has set much of the right-wing extremist agenda of the Trump era through his control of the Fox News television network and his print media outlets which include the influential conservative financial business publication The Wall Street Journal and the mass-market tabloid The New York Post. Now, despite the continued staunch support for Donald Trump on the Fox News and Fox Business airwaves, some recent signs in the print publications that he controls indicate that Murdoch’s enthusiasm for the defeated ex-president is beginning to flag considerably.
Take, for instance, this recent editorial in The New York Post, which was flagged by CNN’s Jim Acosta in a Twitter post today.
NY Post editorial board says "it's time for Republicans to move on" and forget about Trump for 2024: "Trump can’t look past 2020. Let him remain there." https://t.co/spJBmkvSce
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) June 11, 2022
If you click through to the attached article, you’ll see some remarkable comments from the Post‘s editorial board, a group presumably in sync with the opinions of the newspaper’s owner.
Take this line describing Trump’s response to the prime-time hearings by the House Select Committee on the January 6th insurrection.
“But rather than ignore it or look to the future, Donald Trump, the King Lear of Mar-a-Lago, decided to tweet — er, Truth — yet another statement confirming that he refuses to accept reality. “January 6th was not simply a protest,” he wrote, “it represented the greatest movement in the history of our Country to Make America Great Again.”
“It wasn’t, of course. It was a national shame. One that neither Democrats nor Trump can stop obsessing over. It’s time for Republicans to move on.”
After praising some of the most horrendous policies that Trump oversaw during his time in office because of their ability to maintain a flourishing economy, the Post‘s editorial board goes on to say some things that would have been unimaginable when Rupert Murdoch was all-in on ensuring Trump’s success.
Things like this:
“But Trump has become a prisoner of his own ego. He can’t admit his tweeting and narcissism turned off millions. He won’t stop insisting that 2020 was “stolen” even though he’s offered no proof that it’s true.”
“Meanwhile, reports that Trump was pleased that the Jan. 6 crowd chanted for Vice President Mike Pence to be hanged — a truly reprehensible sentiment — makes him unworthy for the office. Trump can’t look past 2020. Let him remain there.”
The New York Post even goes on to point out that there are plenty of suitably deplorable conservative GOP luminaries waiting in the wings who can run for president in 2024 without all of Trump’s baggage.
“Look forward! The 2024 field is rich. You have Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former UN ambassador Nikki Haley … the list goes on. All candidates who embrace conservative policies without the preoccupations of the Don.”
“Consider: Even if Trump, at 78, managed to win the presidency in 2024, who would work for him, now that he’s betrayed every competent person on his former staff?”
These sorts of comments don’t make it sound like Rupert Murdoch is looking forward to a second Trump administration any time soon.
While the down-market New York Post may not be particularly influential among Washington D.C. intelligentsia, the capitalist bible The Wall Street Journal still commands considerable attention, particularly from Republican politicians looking to stay on top of what their corporate benefactors are thinking.
In an opinion piece entitled “The Evidence of the Jan. 6th Committee,” written by their Editorial Board and published yesterday, the Journal was highly critical of their formerly lauded Republican leader, saying:
“The person who owns Jan. 6 is Donald Trump. Remarkably, he seems to welcome this. ‘January 6th was not simply a protest,’ he wrote Thursday on Truth Social, ‘it represented the greatest movement in the history of our Country to Make America Great Again.”
“Pity the people who went to Washington believing this nonsense, not least the more than 800 who have been charged with criminal offenses. Thursday’s hearing ended with video of rioters explaining their thinking, as their criminal charges flashed on the screen. ‘I did believe that the election was being stolen,’ one man said, ‘and Trump asked us to come.’”
“Mr. Trump betrayed his supporters by conning them on Jan. 6, and he is still doing it.”
Given Rupert Murdoch’s willingness to turn against Trump in his print publications, the question remains whether his television property Fox News will begin changing its tune of unquestioning loyalty and cultish devotion to Donald Trump anytime soon.
With its large audience of viewers who rarely pick up a newspaper beyond the Pennysaver, Fox News can turn around public opinions more quickly and reach many more people than any of Murdoch’s periodicals.
Perhaps Fox News‘ executives should pay attention to the last line in The New York Post editorial:
“Let’s make America sane again.”
To many of us outside the right-wing media bubble, that means seeing Trump held accountable for his crimes and spending the rest of his life in prison. In the meantime, we’ll just have to settle for a little schadenfreude while Rupert Murdoch abandons his meal ticket from the past six years.