There are two new reports out this week that dig in on where Rupert Murdoch is leaning ahead of the 2024 Republican primary, as he creates distance between his conservative media empire and Donald Trump, whose 2020 election lies have already cost Murdoch’s Fox News three-quarters of a billionaire dollars in just one defamation suit settlement. Murdoch reportedly is doing whatever he can to avoid being “stuck” with Trump again in 2024, privately expressing repeatedly over the last two years that he thinks Trump is unhealthy for the Republican Party, according to the New York Times.
Both Rolling Stone and the Times published reports in the last 24 hours suggesting that Murdoch is less than pleased with his initial pick for a Trump alternative, Ron DeSantis, whose not-stellar poll numbers and glitch-fest of a campaign rollout have secured his status — less as a Trump alternative and more as a second choice after Trump.
According to the Time’s report, Murdoch is privately hoping for another alternative to Trump, telling some close to him that he still wants Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin to toss himself into the already-crowded primary field. While it was unclear from the Times report whether Murdoch is fully done with DeSantis, there’s been a noticeable shift in the tone that Murdoch-owned outlets have taken with DeSantis coverage in recent weeks. DeSantis advisers responded to the Times report by saying that “tougher questions were always expected and that the governor plans to continue holding interviews with Fox hosts who may challenge him,” in the Times words.
The Rolling Stone report is a bit more explicit in declaring Murdoch to be souring on DeSantis in recent days and weeks. The report cites anonymous sources that suggest that Murdoch and the Murdoch family overall is frustrated with his bad polling, his anti-woke obsessions and various public blunders, like being very awkward and putting out an unhinged anti-Pride video that just made him look incredibly homophobic. And they’re growing increasingly tired of waiting for him to prove himself.
“They are transactional and can smell a loser a mile away,” one unnamed Fox source told the Rolling Stone.
“[Rupert’s] understandable worry is that we may end up being stuck with Trump anyway,” another Fox source told Rolling Stone. “And DeSantis is underperforming. Anybody can see that … [and the Murdochs], they’re seeing it, too.”
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