Trump screamed at Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch in "humongous blowup" over "unfair" coverage: report

Individuals close to Murdoch reveal that the Fox Corporation co-chair believes Trump will lose in November

Published September 10, 2020 2:03PM (EDT)

Rupert Murdoch and Donald Trump (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Rupert Murdoch and Donald Trump (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump reportedly "screamed" at Fox News owner and media mogul Rupert Murdoch earlier this summer over alleged "unfair" coverage of him.

Trump and Murdoch had the "humongous blowup" during a phone call, a new article by Vanity Fair's Gabriel Sherman revealed. 

"Trump yelled that Fox's coverage is unfair and the polling is fake," a source told Sherman, adding that "Rupert defended the network's standards and polling."

According to the report, Trump blames Murdoch for airing critical segments about his presidency. Fox News national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin recently independently verified key parts of a bombshell exposé in which advisers close to Trump revealed to The Atlantic that he had called U.S. military heroes killed in combat "losers" and "suckers."

"Sources who've spoken with Trump told me Trump thinks Murdoch wants him to lose," Sherman wrote.

Individuals close to Murdoch told Sherman that the Fox Corporation co-chair believes Trump will lose in November. Murdoch seems more concerned with navigating his empire through a post-Trump political world, according to Sherman.

"This is about business for Rupert," one source told Vanity Fair. 

Murdoch's son, James, and daughter-in-law, Kathryn, each gave $615,000 to the Biden Victory Fund in June, according to Federal Election Commission filings. The next month, James stepped down from the family's News Corp. media empire, citing editorial disagreements.

The first presidential debate, scheduled for Sept. 29, will be moderated by Fox News host Chris Wallace, who is one of the few exceptions to the network's widely perceived political cronyism to the president.

"Any Republican who thinks Wallace will go easy on Trump is badly mistaken," a former White House official told Vanity Fair. "He's no joke."

The Trump campaign had angled for Bret Baier, Hugh Hewitt or Martha MacCallum — network hosts perceived as friendlier to the president. In July, Wallace challenged Trump on coronavirus statistics and the president's boasts about his "person; man; woman; camera; TV" cognitive test results.

"Well, it's not the hardest test," Wallace said. "It shows a picture and it says, 'What's that?' And it's an elephant."

"No. No. No. You see, that's all misrepresentation," Trump responded. "Because, yes, the first few questions are easy. But I'll bet you couldn't even answer the last five questions."

"Well, one of them was count back from 100 by seven," Wallace said. "93 . . ."

Wallace is spurned among pro-Trump hosts on the opinion side of Fox News, according to Sherman.

"Chris hates Trump. He's a passionate Democrat," one network personality told him. Wallace has said that he registered as a Democrat in order to have more impact in local elections in Washington. (Fox News host Tucker Carlson has also copped to the same move.)

Sherman said a Fox News spokesperson dismissed concerns that Wallace was out to get Trump, pointing out that he had also made positive remarks about the president and been critical of Democratic opponent Joe Biden.

Trump, apparently unhappy with recent Fox News coverage, has taken to promoting competitor One America News — which has positioned itself significantly to the right of Fox — as a preferred, "fair and balanced" alternative.

"Fox News is not watchable during weekend afternoons. It is worse than Fake News @CNN," Trump tweeted Aug. 16. "I strongly suggest turning your dial to @OANN. They do a really 'Fair & Balanced' job!" he added, quoting Fox News' retired motto.

A Fox News spokesperson did not immediately reply to Salon's request for comment.

By Roger Sollenberger

Roger Sollenberger was a staff writer at Salon (2020-21). Follow him on Twitter @SollenbergerRC.

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