Conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch is publicly rebuking former president Donald Trump — telling him to get over the past and to focus on the future.
“The current American political debate is profound, whether about education or welfare or economic opportunity,” said Murdoch, whose family controls Fox News’s parent company, Fox Corp. “It is crucial that conservatives play an active, forceful role in that debate, but that will not happen if President Trump stays focused on the past.”
“The past is the past, and the country is now in a contest to define the future,” Murdoch continued.
The two powerful men, who each command large audiences, have had a tumultuous professional relationship.
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.”
After Trump’s 2020 election defeat, however, the New York Post aimed a blistering editorial at Trump, demanding that he accept his loss to Joe Biden and stop falsely claiming that mass voter fraud had marred the results.
During the presidential election, Fox News had also angered Trump and his supporters by calling Arizona, the traditionally red state, for Biden. Fox News stood behind the call, which turned out to be correct. Nonetheless, some Trump fans chanted “Fox sucks” outside vote-counting locations.
Like many other media outlets, Fox News faces a potential “Trump slump” with conservative viewers switching to outlets such as Newsmax and One America News. Trump, once a frequent caller to “Fox & Friends,” turned sour on the network, tweeting in 2020 that it had “forgot the Golden Goose,” in an apparent reference to himself as a boon to their ratings.
It’s unclear whether Murdoch’s comments about the past are a tacit nudge for Trump to look to his own future or the Republican Party’s more broadly. Trump has not yet ruled out running for president in 2024. He may also be more reliant on traditional media as he remains locked out of most social media platforms.
Murdoch also used the shareholder meeting to lambaste what he called “Big Digital,” including tech giants Google and Facebook, which he said had been silencing conservative voices, as he called for their “significant reform.”
“The idea falsely promoted by the platforms that algorithms are somehow objective and solely scientific is complete nonsense,” Murdoch said. “Algorithms are subjective and they can be manipulated by people to kill competition, damage other people, publishers and businesses.”
The tech companies have not publicly responded to Murdoch’s comments, but have long insisted they do not discriminate against conservatives.