Entertainment

Dump Trump? DeSantis Fever Is Spreading Across Murdoch’s Media Empire

On Monday, from the pages of his weekly New York Post column, Piers Morgan held up a grenade, pulled out the pin, and lobbed it in the direction of Mar-a-Lago. “Ron DeSantis is showing himself to be a formidable and dynamic political operator,” Morgan wrote of the 43-year-old Florida governor and presumed 2024 presidential hopeful. “So, by almost any political metric you choose, this guy’s a far better option for leading the Republicans into the 2024 election than Donald Trump…He’s just younger, fresher, and more exciting than the aging, raging gorilla who’s become a whiny, democracy-defying bore.” In his kicker, Morgan twisted the knife to and fro: “The game’s up for the Donald…It’s time Republicans put their faith in the Ronald.”

Trump has history with Morgan, a former British tabloid honcho and cross-Atlantic TV personality who now spreads his commentary around as part of a multiplatform deal with several of Rupert Murdoch’s outlets in the U.S., U.K., and Australia. Morgan won The Celebrity Apprentice in 2008 and spoke warmly of Trump throughout his presidency, only to become a vociferous Trump critic in the wake of January 6. Their relationship came to a head during a testy exchange for the April 25 debut of Piers Morgan Uncensored, in which Morgan stated the obvious and told Trump that he lost the 2020 election. Trump has been slagging off Morgan ever since, so it’s not surprising that Morgan would return fire. But Morgan’s takedown was wholly consistent with the wider message that has lately been blaring out from the opinion sections of Murdoch’s American newspapers: Dump Trump.

The drumbeat has become apparent with the January 6 hearings dominating the news cycle in recent weeks. “The person who owns Jan. 6 is Donald Trump,” the Wall Street Journal editorial board wrote. “Mr. Trump betrayed his supporters by conning them on Jan. 6, and he is still doing it.” A Post editorial went even further. “Look forward!” the paper urged its constituents. “The 2024 field is rich. You have Florida gov. Ron DeSantis, former secretary of state Mike Pompeo, former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley…the list goes on. All candidates who embrace conservative policies without the preoccupations of the Don.… Unsubscribe from Trump’s daily emails begging for money. Then pick your favorite from a new crop of conservatives. Look to 2022, and 2024, and a new era. Let’s make America sane again.”

There’s lots more where that came from in the writings of other Journal and Post columnists. Here’s Peggy Noonan: “Trump voters: Call an audible again. Look at the field and the facts, be strategic.… Be serious. Move quickly. Let go of the anvil that, in the most buoyant waters imaginable, will sink you to the bottom of the sea.” And Michael Goodwin: “Trump gives the impression he’s stuck in the past and needs a fresh message. Although he is clearly still a huge power within the GOP, his old feuds and grievances already sound stale, and by 2024, they are not likely to inspire the hope and confidence America desperately needs.” And Rich Lowry: “No other prospective 2024 candidate would have to excuse Jan. 6 and parrot the most outlandish claims about the 2020 election, not Ron DeSantis, not Mike Pence, not Tom Cotton, not Nikki Haley. If none of these candidates would sound like Liz Cheney, none would be inextricably linked to bonkers events four years prior, either.”

Of all these writings, Morgan’s column was the most au courant, considering the wave of DeSantis fever that’s hanging in the air (along with lingering COVID). It’s not just coming from conservatives salivating over DeSantis’s youthful brand of anti-establishment warfare and pugilistic populism—albeit one belied by elite Ivy League credentials—but from a media that senses how a showdown with Trump could become a major story line heading into 2024. To that end, Dexter Filkins’s recent DeSantis profile in The New Yorker has been the talk of the town. And it includes some color about the copious DeSantis coverage emanating from Murdoch’s most powerful media fiefdom: Fox News. The cable network helped propel DeSantis to the governor’s mansion—and is providing national exposure ahead of a potential White House run.

What to make of all this? As someone in the Murdoch orbit put it, “Rupert’s a pragmatic guy. He knows better than anybody how to read political tea leaves. It’s fairly self-evident that quite a few people in the firmament have begun to challenge the previously supported collective viewpoint about Trump. It’s understood now that the gloves are off. As he lashes out, it just makes it easier for people to hit back.”

Elaborating with a bit more nuance, the podcaster and former senior Obama adviser Dan Pfeiffer said in a recent appearance on CNN’s Reliable Sources, “The creation of this entire right-wing media apparatus was designed for one purpose: to elect Republicans to office. And there is a strong current among some Republican political operatives, and some folks in the conservative movement, that Donald Trump is not their best chance to win—because of his role in what happened before, because he seems so obsessed with looking backward as opposed to forward. So this is not a moral statement from Rupert Murdoch’s papers about Donald Trump being bad or the dangers of January 6. They just want another candidate, perhaps Ron DeSantis, to be in a position to allow them to control the White House again, by any means necessary.”



Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

close