The Republican campaign propaganda warned of the apocalypse if Joe Biden wins. Behind the scenes, however, things look very different. The man who has helped make Fox News the most influential platform for conservative politics in America firmly believes that Biden will win – and he doesn’t mind that too much.
Rupert Murdoch, the 89-year-old billionaire whose family controls the parent company of Fox News, has told his employees that he expects Trump to lose in November because the president, among other things, played down the COVID danger against Murdoch’s advice. The COVID trivializers may have played a major role in Trump’s defeat, but they continue to tell their audience that the pandemic is actually harmless and a Democratic conspiracy.
Murdoch watched with concern as Trump played down the crisis. He sent one of his closest associates, News Corp. CEO Robert Thomson, to speak to the president about the risks of the virus, as early as March at a previously unannounced meeting. Tucker Carlson, a well-known host at Fox News who had already raised the alarm about the virus in late January, visited Mar-a-Lago in early March to urge the president to take the virus more seriously, also on Murdoch’s encouragement.
“Fox thrives when the Republicans are in opposition because then you can beat up a bad guy in real time,” said Jonathan Klein, a former president of CNN. “A win by Biden would be great for Fox’s business.”
A Murdoch executive imagines that Fox’s prime-time selection under a Biden administration will prove to be “the flag-bearer of the resistance. And former Fox executives point to the network’s role in promoting the Tea Party movement in the Obama years as a model of how the network might find a way forward if Trump were to lose in November.
Behind the scenes, Fox News Media network employees say that most of the people who work on the company’s news site do not work for Trump or Biden. Rather, they are simply exhausted from reporting on Trump’s frenetic first term.
Before his victory in 2016, Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, explored the possibility of creating a media company focused on Trump. One way or another, Trump will almost certainly try to maintain some kind of media presence when he leaves office, so Fox will likely have to deal with him.