There is a rift between the billionaires at the top of the conservative news media over the 2016 candidacy of Donald Trump.
According to the New York Times on Wednesday, Australian media titan Rupert Murdoch is trying as hard as he can to blunt Trump’s meteoric rise to the top of the GOP field. However, the man at the top of Murdoch’s most powerful news organ, Fox News’ Roger Ailes, isn’t interested in blocking Trump’s ascent.
Murdoch has called Trump and his controversial remarks about illegal immigrants an embarrassment to the Republican Party. After Trump’s announcement speech, in which he called Mexican immigrants criminals, drug addicts and rapists, Murdoch expressed his disagreement on the social medium Twitter.
Mexican immigrants, as with all immigrants, have much lower crime rates than native born. Eg El Paso safest city in U.S. Trump wrong.
— Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch) July 12, 2015
When is Donald Trump going to stop embarrassing his friends, let alone the whole country?
— Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch) July 19, 2015
On Sunday, the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal published an editorial calling Trump’s campaign a “catastrophe” for the Republican Party.
“All too many conservatives, including some magazine editors, have been willing to overlook his hucksterism as he’s risen in the polls,” the editorial read.
“As a standard-bearer for conservative ideas, Mr. Trump would likewise be a catastrophe. His only discernible principle is the promotion of his personal brand. His main message seems to be that because he’s rich and doesn’t care what anyone thinks, he can afford to tell everyone to go to hell,” it went on.
However, Gabriel Sherman — author of the Fox News exposé The Loudest Voice in the Room — wrote at New York magazine that at the conservative news channel, chairman and chief executive Roger Ailes is “pushing Fox to defend Trump’s most outlandish comments.”
Ailes — a former Nixon aide de camp — has reportedly charged certain Fox personalities, like The Five‘s co-host Eric Bolling, with continually backing Trump in on-air discussions.
“A review of Bolling’s comments shows that over the past week, he’s gone to bat for Trump numerous times,” said Sherman. “Last Friday, for example, Bolling complained that conservatives shouldn’t be criticizing the real-estate mogul. ‘There’s a problem in America, and it’s not Donald Trump,’ Bolling declared.”
Media Matters’ Lis Power noted that Trump has had a consistently laudatory, gushingly approving media home in Fox News’ morning show Fox and Friends and its hosts, Steve Doocy, Brian Kilmeade and Elisabeth Hasselbeck.
“(W)hen Trump received widespread backlash for attacking Sen. John McCain’s military record, claiming he is ‘not a war hero’ because he was a POW during the Vietnam War,” said Power, “the Fox & Friends hosts quickly rallied behind the presidential contender. Doocy tried his best to spin Trump’s remarks and claim Trump was criticizing McCain’s Senate record, not his military service. Brian Kilmeade argued that Trump had called McCain a war hero four times (a claim that Politifact rated ‘Mostly False,’ as Trump’s point was that McCain is a war hero ‘because he was captured’).”
On Tuesday, Doocy squealed that “someone told me yesterday Donald Trump is like a Navy SEAL.”
During his South Carolina press event on Tuesday — in which he gave out Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC)’s cell phone number — Trump thanked the Fox and Friends crew for their support so far in his campaign.
“They’re great people,” said Trump.