A series of anecdotes in an upcoming book on President Donald Trump’s campaign reveals that he craves the approval of two men: Rupert Murdoch and Vladimir Putin.
Journalist Michael Wolff spoke to numerous sources, including hefty contributions from Steve Bannon, about Trump’s shocking win and uphill battle to learn the basics of civic governance, according to excerpts published in New York magazine.
Trump and his family were dazed and confused by his win, and one story from Wolff’s book shows how the president-elect didn’t quite realize what that entailed.
Wolff recounts that Trump received a small group at this Trump Tower apartment the Saturday after the Nov. 8, 2016, election, but the former reality TV star was “agitated” that Rupert Murdoch was running late, and he assured increasingly impatient guests the media mogul would show up.
“He’s one of the greats, the last of the greats,” Trump said, according to Wolff. “You have to stay to see him.”
Wolff said the incident showed that Trump had not yet grasped he was about to become the most powerful man in the world, but was instead “still trying mightily to curry favor with a media mogul who had long disdained him as a charlatan and fool.”
Murdoch advised Trump to moderate some of the positions advocated by Bannon, then his chief strategist, but the media mogul was less than impressed by the former reality TV star’s grasp of the issues.
“What a fucking idiot,” Murdoch said, after urging the president to soften his stance on H-1B visas.
Bannon was irritated by Trump’s reliance on Murdoch’s advice, and he enlisted the former Fox News chief Roger Ailes to drive a wedge between the two.
“Since his ouster from Fox over allegations of sexual harassment, Ailes had become only more bitter toward Murdoch,” Wolff wrote. “Now Murdoch was frequently jawboning the president-elect and encouraging him toward Establishment moderation. Bannon wanted Ailes to suggest to Trump, a man whose many neuroses included a horror of senility, that Murdoch might be losing it.”
“’I’ll call him,’” said Ailes, according to the book. “’But Trump would jump through hoops for Rupert. Like for Putin. Sucks up and shits down. I just worry about who’s jerking whose chain.’”
According to the book, Ailes asked Bannon what Trump had “gotten himself into with the Russians.
“Mostly,” said Bannon, “he went to Russia and he thought he was going to meet Putin. But Putin couldn’t give a sh*t about him. So he’s kept trying.”