At first glance, the relationship between President Donald Trump and Fox News looks like a classic love story. After eight years of attacking President Obama, Fox has happily adapted to its new role as a guard dog for the Trump administration. Fox’s coverage has downplayed Trump’s controversies, touted his accomplishments, and accused other networks of spreading “fake news” to discredit him.
Trump has rewarded Fox News for its loyal coverage. At the same time that he’s accused nearly all other major networks of being “fake news,” the president has given Fox News exclusive interviews, complimented Fox in press conferences, and told his millions of Twitter followers to tune in to their programming.
But the relationship between Fox and Trump is less of a romance and more of a hostage situation. Rupert Murdoch, executive chair of News Corp (which owns Fox News), was a vocal critic of Trump during the 2016 campaign. He criticized Trump’s position on immigration, accused Trump of “embarrassing” the country, and was once described as “the billionaire Donald Trump can’t win over.”
But Murdoch quieted his criticism after Trump became the clear frontrunner, and he’s pushed Fox News firmly in a pro-Trump direction since the election. As Gabe Sherman, national affairs editor at New York magazine and author of The Loudest Voice In The Room on Fox News’ Roger Ailes, described:
I hear from my sources inside Fox News who are frustrated that almost every story that producers program have to be filtered through a pro-Trump narrative and so we’re very clearly seeing Murdoch’s heavy hand in shaping the coverage of Fox News to help Trump.
So what explains Murdoch’s change of heart? Why is one of Trump’s most influential critics allowing his network to turn into a Trump PR channel? We explore these questions in the video above.