Murdoch’s Journalists Say Trump Is the Republican Party’s Biggest Loser

From an AP story by David Bauder headlined “Sharp attacks on Trump from Rupert Murdoch’s news outlets”:

Former President Donald Trump has taken some hits in the aftermath of the midterm elections, but the unkindest cuts may have come from a source that was once among his biggest backers — the media empire of magnate Rupert Murdoch.

The New York Post’s front cover on Thursday put Trump’s face over the drawing of a boy from a well-known nursery rhyme. The headline: “Trumpty Dumpty.”

“Don (who couldn’t build a wall) had a great fall — can all of the GOP’s men put the party back together again?” the newspaper wrote.

The Wall Street Journal’s opinion section ran a sharp editorial headlined, “Trump is the Republican Party’s Biggest Loser.” While Fox News’ biggest stars were relatively quiet, the former president heard enough discouraging words to attack the network on social media.

Trump was blamed for supporting losing or underperforming candidates like Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, Don Bolduc in New Hampshire and Blake Masters in Arizona that cost Republicans a chance to make big gains in the House and Senate, as many had predicted.

The Journal’s editorial mentioned each of those names and more, saying that Trump had “a perfect record of electoral defeat” since his victory over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.

“Democrats succeeded again in making Trump a central campaign issue, and Mr. Trump helped them do it,” the Journal said.

The newspaper on Thursday also ran a guest column touting Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as an alternative to Trump for the 2024 presidential election, and an excerpt from former Vice President Mike Pence’s new book headlined, “My last days with Donald Trump.”

On the Post’s website, veteran columnist John Podhoretz dubbed the former president “Toxic Trump.”

Podhoretz wrote that Trump was “the political equivalent of a can of Raid” and “perhaps the most profound vote repellent in modern American history.”

The Post ran an editorial urging DeSantis run for president. A day earlier, the newspaper’s cover featured a triumphant picture of DeSantis with the headline, “DeFuture.”

A spokesman for Murdoch’s News Corp. said he had no comment on the editorial choices. It’s not like the outlets have never criticized Trump, but the tone and timing were noteworthy.

Non-Murdoch affiliated conservative figures and outlets took some shots at Trump. The Washington Examiner wrote that Republicans needed to choose between electoral success or Trump, while American Thinker said Trump is devolving into a permanent liability, according to The Righting newsletter.

Some Fox News stars tread lightly into critical territory. Jesse Watters talked Wednesday of a 2024 presidential election rematch between Trump and President Joe Biden.

“Does Trump win?” Watters said. “I hope so. I love the guy. A week ago, I would have said slam dunk. But after how last night shook out, I don’t know now. Democrats will walk over hot coals to vote against Trump, but will Republicans do that to vote against Joe Biden?”

Another Fox host, Laura Ingraham, didn’t mention Trump’s name but said the populist movement is about ideas, not one person.

“If the voters conclude that you’re putting your own ego or your own grudges ahead of what’s good for the country, they’re going to look elsewhere,” she said.

Trump has all but promised that he would announce a 2024 candidacy as soon as next week. But his former White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, said on Fox that no potential candidates should announce before the Dec. 6 runoff election for the U.S. Senate seat in Georgia. Dov Hikind, a “Fox & Friends” guest, said Trump should announce his support for DeSantis.

“Donald Trump, move on,” he said.

That appeared unlikely, given that Trump recently referred to the Florida governor as “Ron DeSanctimonious.” He also posted Wednesday on Truth Social that he got more votes in Florida in 2020 than DeSantis did this week — even though they were running for different offices and not against each other.

The former president posted that Fox News was “really gone,” and he disputed stories that he had backed losers. He was particularly critical of The New York Times for a story that said he was angry at his wife, Melania, and Fox News’ Sean Hannity for pushing him to back Oz’s Senate candidacy in Pennsylvania.

“I was not at all ANGRY,” he wrote. “Fake news!”
Also see the New York Times story by Jeremy W. Peters headlined “Murdoch’s news outlets extend their criticism of Trump.”

For a second consecutive day, the recriminations about Republicans’ unexpectedly weak Election Day performance played a prominent role on the pages and over the airwaves of Rupert Murdoch’s media properties. And the consensus wasn’t kind to former President Donald J. Trump.

“Trump is the Republican Party’s biggest loser,” declared the headline on a Wall Street Journal editorial on Thursday, which accused Mr. Trump of having “flopped in 2018, 2020, 2021 and 2022.”

The cover of the New York Post on Thursday was just as scalding, if slightly more tongue-in-cheek. It had an illustration of Mr. Trump depicted as Humpty Dumpty. “Don (who couldn’t build a wall) had a great fall — can all the G.O.P.’s men put the party back together again?” the headline read.

Inside, the Post ran an opinion piece by the conservative writer John Podhoretz, a frequent critic of the former president, that called Mr. Trump “the most profound vote repellent in modern American history.”

Fox News spent all day Wednesday featuring commentators who blamed Mr. Trump for dragging the entire party down, and the criticism continued into prime time. Laura Ingraham, who was one of the former president’s biggest boosters in conservative media during his four years in office, took what appeared to be a swipe at him.

“The populist movement is about ideas,” Ms. Ingraham said. “It is not about any one person. If the voters conclude that you’re putting your own ego or your own grudges ahead of what’s good for the country, they’re going to look elsewhere, period.”

Her colleague Tucker Carlson was gentler in his assessment of the election, saying that Mr. Trump had always been a “mixed blessing” for Republicans. “In this case, he’s certainly not the single cause of anything,” Mr. Carlson added.

The two Murdochs who run the Fox Corporation and its newspaper businesses, Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch, are said to have soured on Mr. Trump lately and expressed concern that he would harm the Republican Party’s chances of winning big on Tuesday. Their discomfort with him, according to people who have spoken with both Murdochs, stems from his refusal to accept the results of the 2020 election.

Over the spring and summer, Mr. Trump was hardly a presence on the network where he was once a fixture, calling in almost nightly. For a stretch of more than 100 days, Fox News did not broadcast a single interview with him.

This is not the first time Murdoch media properties have criticized the former president. Following the revelations of the committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol, The Journal and the Post published blistering editorials condemning his inaction that day.

Of course, the pendulum can always swing back, as it has again and again over the course of the complicated, decades-long relationship between Rupert Murdoch and Mr. Trump. After drawing the ire of the former president and his supporters — and dropping precipitously in the ratings — Fox News followed its election night prediction that Mr. Trump would lose Arizona in 2020 by promoting some of his false claims of widespread voter fraud. The network and its parent company are now facing a $1.6 billion defamation suit from Dominion Voting Systems over those erroneous reports.

Mr. Trump appears to have been watching as Fox guests and anchors blamed him for the underwhelming results on Tuesday. On Thursday he lashed out on his social media platform, Truth Social, writing, “For me, Fox News was always gone, even in 2015-16 when I began ‘my journey.’” He added, “but now they’re really gone. Such an opportunity for another media outlet to make an absolute fortune, and do good for America.”

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