Fox News is a pillar of power in the Donald Trump system. Now the transmitter is apparently remote. More is happening behind the scenes.
It was his favorite station of all things that turned everything upside down. Donald Trump was actually in a good mood. On election night, he had gathered hundreds of believers in the White House, there were mini burgers and fries. The president had just won the all-important state of Florida, and of course he was following the election news on Fox News, the New York Times reported.
Then it happened.
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Fox News was the first – and for a long time only – medium to announce a painful defeat for Trump: the loss of Arizona, a Republican stronghold, possibly the dead end on Trump’s path to the second presidency.
Dramatic break in public
The good vote on the election party was gone, the president and his advisers foamed with rage. Trump’s people first exerted behind the scenes and then public pressure to reverse Arizona’s decision. The station’s chief election analyst then defended himself live on television – and had to do so over and over over the following days.
It was a dramatic break in a long, close collaboration. Fox News first made Trump great as a politician. And Trump then made Fox News more successful. They fertilized each other, passed the balls to each other. Now America’s biggest news channel appears to be leaving the sinking Trump ship. But is it really that simple?
There is a lot of evidence of this opinion in the days after the election. Several moderators have called the allegations of alleged electoral fraud in the Trump camp for what they are: allegations without evidence.
Only half the story
The scenes make you sit up and notice, but only show half the story. Because they cover only part of Fox News – the news business that runs from 9am to 8pm roughly every day.
But there is also the opinion machine that runs early in the morning from 6 a.m. and in the evenings. That’s the more powerful part of Fox News because it reaches more viewers and has more influence.
The news channel now mainly does conservative reporting. And the opinion machine is advertising Donald Trump in prime time. On Tages-Fox, for example, presenter Bret Baier emphasizes time and again that it is all very well to claim electoral fraud, but that so far “no evidence of widespread fraud has been seen”. He told one of the Trump teams, “When Trump won in 2016, the electoral system was fine for all of you.”
“Now it’s up to us to stand up for him”
In contrast, on Abend-Fox, presenters Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham are the stars and top ratings for the station with their personal shows.
A Hannity can say without contradiction, “We will never be able to announce the true outcome of this election. That’s a fact.” Ingraham openly praises Trump’s allegiance: “He stood up for us. Now it’s up to us to stand up for him. The Republicans must stand up for him.”
Ingraham was even a guest on Trump’s small election party in the White House on election night. The relationship is that close.
What has changed? Fox says Trump
The tension between news and opinion issues within Fox is growing. Trump records this, of course, and where other politicians remain silent, he openly complains. For example, when he was switched by phone to the opinion show “Fox & Friends” on election morning.
“I’m often asked,” Trump said, “what’s the biggest difference between this election campaign and that of four years ago? And I say Fox.” The reason was that the broadcaster had also shown Barack Obama’s campaign appearances for opponent Joe Biden. Actually a matter of course for a news medium.
But the relationship has cooled noticeably on several levels. For decades, everything at Fox News was under the command of Roger Ailes, a notorious conservative rioter and Trump friend. Ailes fell on allegations of sexual harassment by presenters and died shortly afterwards in May 2017. There is no such trusting relationship with his successor, Suzanne Scott.
Will they become competitors?
Nor with those who set the tone at the top of Fox’s media empire: Rupert Murdoch and his son Lachlan. Her empire also includes the Trump-friendly tabloid “New York Post,” which shortly before the election published an alleged corruption scandal involving Biden and his son Hunter – even without evidence.
Even the New York Post today published several critical reports of Trump’s allegations of alleged election fraud. In the media world, this is perceived as distancing yourself from likely election loser Trump.
But Fox is much more powerful than the newspaper. Should Trump really leave the White House, there is always speculation that he will set up his own television station – and perhaps take away the loyal moderators. Trump would then have his own station without any criticism. And former sympathetic partners Trump and Fox are said to be direct competitors.