The chairman of Fox Corp and News Corp announced in a memo to staff on Thursday that he was retiring from his position at the helm of his right-wing empire and handing over the reins to his son Lachlan.
Surprisingly, the former president stayed silent on the announcement for hours – despite making multiple posts on his Truth Social account in the meantime.
Finally, he addressed the news on Friday morning. “Many people are saying that, ‘You forced Rupert Murdoch into retirement!’ I do not believe this is so, but while we’re at it, how about getting rid of ‘Democrat’ Mitch McConnell, who gives the Radical Left Lunatics, together with his small band of automatic ‘yes’ votes, EVERYTHING they want. There is ZERO Republican Leadership in the United States Senate. MAGA!!!” Mr Trump wrote on Truth Social.
Mr Trump and Mr Murdoch have endured something of a notorious love-hate relationship for years.
The two men had a relationship for decades before Mr Trump entered politics, as Mr Murdoch was a power player in New York tabloids.
“Trump was interested in specifically Rupert’s ownership of The Post, because Page Six is very important to his rising stature in New York City and branding efforts,” then-Trump advisor Roger Stone told The Times in 2017.
Following Mr Trump’s descent from the Trump Tower escalator and entrance into US politics in the summer of 2015, he formed a mutually beneficial relationship with Fox News, which hasn’t been without its ups and downs.
The two men were close allies during Mr Trump’s 2016 presidential election campaign, with the media mogul welcoming him on Fox News and helping to propel his career from businessman to politician.
While initially hesitant to Mr Trump’s candidacy, Mr Murdoch was soon elated at having a president he could get on the phone at any time.
In December 2017, about a year into the Trump presidency, The New York Times reported that Mr Murdoch and Mr Trump spoke to each about once a week.
“In the 44 years since he bought his first newspaper in the United States, he has largely failed to cultivate close ties to an American president. Until now,” the paper reported, adding that Mr Trump at the time viewed Mr Murdoch “as one of his closest confidants”.
But the relationship soured during the 2020 election when the former president took issue with Fox News correctly calling Arizona for Joe Biden in the 2020 election.
In the aftermath, Mr Murdoch said that Mr Trump was going “increasingly mad” amid his lies that the election had been stolen, according to legal filings in the defamation lawsuit brought by Dominion Voting Systems against Fox News.
The right-wing outlet ultimately had to pay a $787m settlement to the voting systems company for airing Mr Trump’s false claims of election fraud.
This week, a new book by Michael Wolff claimed that Mr Murdoch now despises Mr Trump to such a degree that he wishes him dead.
Mr Wolff, the author of Fire and Fury , writes that Mr Murdoch, 92, has grown into “a frothing-at-the-mouth” adversary of Mr Trump, 77.
“Thoughts shared by Mr Murdoch include “This would all be solved if … ” as well as “How could he still be alive, how could he?” writes Mr Wolff. The book is set to be published on Tuesday and an advance copy was obtained by The Guardian.
Mr Wolff writes that at the beginning of 2023, what Mr Murdoch “adamantly didn’t want … was Trump”.
“Of all Trump’s implacable enemies, Murdoch had become a frothing-at-the-mouth one. His relatively calm demeanor from the early Trump presidency where, with a sigh, he could dismiss him merely as a ‘f****** idiot’ had now become a churning stew of rage and recrimination,” he adds. “Trump’s death became a Murdoch theme: ‘We would all be better off …?’ ‘This would all be solved if …’ ‘How could he still be alive, how could he?’ ‘Have you seen him? Have you seen what he looks like? What he eats?’”
Mr Wolff writes that following Mr Trump’s departure from the White House, Mr Murdoch “like much of the Republican establishment … had convinced himself that Trump was, finally, vulnerable. That his hold on the base and on Republican politicians had weakened enough that now was the time to kill him off, finally”.
Meanwhile, Mr Trump has also taken to targeting Mr Murdoch and Fox News over its coverage – recently accusing his onetime ally of attempting to sabotage his campaign via his media outlets.
“Fox News and the Wall Street Journal fight me because Murdoch is a globalist,” Mr Trump said in a video shared on Truth Social last month.
“And I am America First. It’s very simple, and it will always be that way, so get used to it.”
Just this week, Mr Trump complained on Truth Social that the network had failed to report on polls that painted him in a positive light.
Hours before Mr Murdoch’s retirement announcement, Mr Trump wrote: “Why won’t Fox (Fox & Friends!) show the National Poll that THEY just did. They refuse to put it up, even after spending all of that money. SHOW THE POLL!!! If they don’t show it, I’ll put it up later!”