Fox News created Donald Trump — but now the unlikely Republican frontrunner appears to be destroying the conservative cable network.
The network’s bosses are scrambling to determine their role in the “altered media ecosystem” since Trump has risen to the top of the Republican presidential pack — while publicly challenging Fox News and its anchors, reported New York Magazine.
Trump skipped the second Fox primary debate last month after the network rejected his demand to replace Megyn Kelly as moderator and then mocked his request, and the dispute has spilled over into a quarrel between Kelly and Bill O’Reilly.
“They’re at each other’s throats big time,” one Fox insider told the magazine. “I mean, like big time. (Fox chairman and CEO Roger Ailes) doesn’t know what the hell to do.”
But the real estate tycoon and reality TV star remains popular with voters — who are also viewers — despite Ailes’ inability to develop a strategy to cover Trump, who began building his presidential campaign with regular Fox News appearances since 2011.
He finished a limp second in the first primary, but he decisively won the second primary in New Hampshire ahead of what appears to be smooth sailing in primaries in some Southern states.
Trump’s criticism has — for him, at least — “demonstrated that disregarding Fox News doesn’t spell political ruin for a Republican,” according to reporter Gabriel Sherman.
“If Trump gets elected, Fox will have had little to do with it,” Sherman wrote. “In fact, it may be a sign of Ailes’ waning power and the waxing of Trump’s that Murdoch seems to be warming to the idea of a Trump candidacy.”
Murdoch also appears to be taking Kelly’s side in her spat with O’Reilly, with his publishing house Harper Collins signing her to a reported $10 million book deal.
Where the internal power struggle leaves Ailes and O’Reilly, who are virtually synonymous with Fox News, remains to be seen — just like Trump’s eventual fate with voters.