Producers, reporters, executives and Fox News hosts are battling one another over the conservative network’s direction in the Trump era.
Fox Corp. CEO Lachlan Murdoch is struggling to cool the long-running feud between the network’s journalists and its prime-time hosts, while also placating advertisers and President Donald Trump, according to Vanity Fair‘s Gabriel Sherman.
“Reporters are telling management that we’re being defined by the worst people on our air,” a senior Fox staffer told the magazine.
Reporters and producers have gone after Fox News hosts who loudly support the president, but the prime-time anchors complain they “make the money” and reflect the audience’s worldview, and management seems to agree.
“Advertisers know the value of our loyal and engaged audience and we expect no change in our business going forward,” said Marianne Gambelli, Fox’s president of ad sales.
But there have been issues with ad revenue after some of the prime-time hosts, such as Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson, have prompted boycotts with shocking and outrageous comments on the air, and Vanity Fair reported Fox News is concerned.
“Executives are very worried ‘Fox & Friends’ will be next,” one insider said. “If advertisers start bailing on them, they’re screwed.”
The dynamic puts Murdoch, who took over from his father Rupert Murdoch, in a peculiar bind between satisfying advertisers, employees and the network’s most important viewer — Trump, who has begun to complain lately that coverage hasn’t been as favorable to him as he likes.
“Hannity told Trump last year that the Murdochs hate Trump,” said one source who heard the conversation, “and Hannity is the only one holding Fox together.”
The president and Hannity reportedly speak nearly every day, and Trump frequently promotes his show and other programs, especially “Fox & Friends,” but the network’s highest-rated host intends to leave when his contract expires in early 2021, according to two sources who spoke to him.
“Sean doesn’t feel supported,” a staffer close to him said. “He has no relationship with Lachlan. Sean thinks, Wait a second, I was hired to get ratings and I get ratings, but now people are embarrassed about me? He feels Fox spends a lot of time supporting Shepard Smith but his show makes no money. That’s annoying to him.”