Rupert Murdoch, the most powerful man in right-wing media, chided former President Donald Trump on Wednesday, saying “It is crucial that conservatives play an active, forceful role in [America’s political debate], but that will not happen if President Trump stays focused on the past.”
The chairman of Fox Corp., which controls Fox News, added, “The past is the past, and the country is now in a contest to define the future.”
The 90-year-old media magnate made his remarks during News Corp’s annual shareholder meeting.
Bloomberg provides key context:
Murdoch, a political conservative whose empire includes the Fox News Channel and the Wall Street Journal, has sometimes fallen out of favor with Trump, most notably after Fox News was the first to call the state of Arizona for Joe Biden in the November 2020 election. Trump later said on Twitter that the channel had forgotten the “Golden Goose” that had led it to ratings gains.
After initially inviting guests on the network who supported Trump’s claims of election fraud, Fox later aired an interview debunking those claims and parted ways with pro-Trump host Lou Dobbs. Fox Corp., which owns Fox News, is being sued by two makers of voting technology that say the network falsely reported that they had rigged the election. Fox has said it did nothing wrong.
The Washington Post provides more background on the tumultuous relationship between the two men:
Murdoch was seemingly not thrilled by the idea of a Trump presidency, tweeting in 2015: “When is Donald Trump going to stop embarrassing his friends, let alone the whole country?” But the tone changed as Trump’s candidacy surged.
The editorial board of the New York Post, a Murdoch-controlled tabloid, was among the first to endorse Trump in 2016. In 2017 Murdoch introduced the then-president at an event as “my friend Donald J. Trump,” making headlines. But by 2018, Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” book asserted that Murdoch had called Trump a “f—ing idiot.”
At the shareholder meeting, Murdoch took a shot at ‘big digital,’ saying “There is no doubt that Facebook employees try to silence conservative voices and a quick Google News search on most contemporary topics often reveals a similar pattern of selectivity — or to be blunt, censorship.”