While in Scotland pimping his golf course and making idiotic statements about the United Kingdom quitting the European Union (#Brexit), Donald Trump set aside time to meet with the patriarch of the Fox News empire, Rupert Murdoch, for dinner. The dinner date was reported by Katy Tur of NBC in deliciously snarky tweet: “His eyes twinkling and a smile cracking his lips, Trump slowly mouthed the word Ruu-Pert when he told me he was dining with @rupertmurdoch.” (Cue the violins).
Under other circumstances this might be just another opportunity for a couple of wealthy elitists to chow down and laugh at the tribulations of the little people. But, make no mistake, what happened here is unprecedented and ominous. The extraordinary nature of this high society supper becomes apparent by asking a couple of simple questions: 1) What other presidential candidate has Murdoch met with during this campaign? (None). And 2) What other media mogul has dined with any presidential candidate during this campaign? (None).
It is unseemly for anyone in the news business to have such cozy relations with candidates for high office. And it is particularly sleazy when those relations are blatantly one-sided. The “journalists” who work for Murdoch are keenly aware that their boss is signaling his preferences and that can have a chilling effect on how their reporting is conducted. Fox News is already heavily slanted with a starkly pro-Trump, anti-Clinton bias. By making such a public display of partisanship, Murdoch is making matters worse by dropping the full weight of his authority onto the weak-willed minions he employees.
Murdoch’s opinion of Trump has not always been so positive. Last year Murdoch tweeted this question that is still relevant today: “When is Donald Trump going to stop embarrassing his friends, let alone the whole country?” Without ever answering that question, Murdoch let it be known that he is supporting Trump anyway. And he must have struggled mightily with that endorsement considering how fiercely Trump has maligned Fox News over the course of his campaign.
For example, Trump has burned just about everyone on the network. He said of Megyn Kelly that she “is the worst” and has a “terrible show.” He called Karl Rove a “total fool” and “a biased dope.” He said that George Will is a “broken down political pundit” and “boring.” Chris Stirewalt was deemed “one of the dumbest political pundits on television.” Trump laughed off Charles Krauthammer as “a totally overrated clown,” “a loser,” and “a dummy.” And wrapping up the whole network for his disapproval, he tweeted that he was “having a really hard time watching Fox News.” Then he called on his followers to boycott the network. And for good measure, Trump took a swipe at the Fox family’s newspaper saying that the writers at the Wall Street Journal are also “dummies.”
I can’t argue with much of that, but then I’m not coming out in support of someone who has been so disparaging toward my most cherished business enterprise. Murdoch either has the forgiveness of a saint (unlikely), or he is so obsessed with defeating his good friend Hillary Clinton that he is willing to ignore these childish tantrums and embrace Trump, warts and all. There is one other intriguing possibility: Trump has some damaging information on Murdoch, Roger Ailes, or Fox News generally, and is blackmailing them. That would explain a lot.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.
In any case, it remains inappropriate for a media mogul Big Cheese to be feasting with The Big Cheeto. Their secret conversation is of far greater concern than anything that might have been said by Clinton in a speech to Wall Street. The potential for coordinating a media strategy between Fox News and the Trump campaign should make every American suspicious – and not a little nervous.