For months, Fox News donald trump Like yesterday’s news.But now the ex-president is yelling at popular networks again for conservative viewersmost notably since he was sued in New York for hush money.
Trump’s revival played out Tuesday night, with Tucker Carlson devoting his entire primetime show to a “historic interview” with him, promising more excerpts Wednesday. Sean Hannity similarly gave Trump plenty of airtime two weeks ago.
not mentioned is Carlson’s two-year-old personal text s, revealed in a defamation case against the network that he disparaged Trump and talked eagerly about getting the former president to support him. In one of those exchanges, from Jan. 4, 2021, Carlson wrote, “We can pretty much ignore Trump most nights” and “I really can’t wait.”
Trump’s return reverses what some have called a “soft embargo” on Fox News, which has not conducted live interviews with him between Sept. 22 and March 27, 2022.
“The short answer is they need each other,” said Jane Hall, a professor of journalism at American University and author of “Politics and the Media: Intersections and New Directions.”
“He’s getting more attention, he’s getting more ratings, and cable news needs it because they’ve been slipping,” Hall said.
Record $1.6 billion released as part of Dominion Voting Systems defamation case The allegations against the network and its parent company, Fox Corporation, suggest that Fox repeatedly made false allegations about the 2020 presidential election as part of the campaign win back the audience Outraged the network for calling Arizona for Joe Biden on election night. The lawsuit also reveals that Fox executives and many of their star hosts, including Carlson, don’t believe those claims But it aired anyway.
A week ago, Fox News Channel broadcast Trump’s speech at Mar-a-Lago in its entirety that day. Indicted by a Manhattan grand jury Accused him of falsifying business records to conceal payments made ahead of the 2016 election to silence a porn star who said she and Trump had extramarital sex years ago; Trump denies it happened had sex.
The presentation attracted 6.7 million viewers, about double the typical audience Carlson usually receives at the same time, according to Nielsen.
Fox said Trump’s return was due to the news, not the ratings. Hannity’s interview is being billed as Trump’s first since his indictment and Carlson’s first since his arraignment, when the former president pleaded not guilty to the charges. When news of the grand jury indictment broke, Fox celebrities and commentators rushed to his defense.
Trump’s rising popularity also coincides with his growing strength among Republican voters, according to the network.
While Fox News continues to be the most-watched cable network, its primetime ratings are down 18% in the first three months of this year compared with 2022. CNN was down 34 percent in the same measurement, and MSNBC was down 8 percent, Nielsen said.
“They’re in the fan service business, and now conservative politics is all Trump’s show,” said Charlie Sykes, a conservative and founder of the website Bulwark. “If the show reruns, Fox will either try to counter it or buy it. Now, what is counterprogramming?”
A Trump return “was always inevitable,” said Sykes, who is also an MSNBC contributor. “They can’t give him up. Fox knows what the audience wants and what the audience will accept.”
If Fox isn’t pulling back on Trump, it’s certainly pulling back.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, seen as Trump’s main Republican rival, has made 12 appearances on Fox News this year — but according to Media Matters, the liberal advocacy group that oversees Fox, Matters for America, he has not been seen since March 13.
In the first week of the year, March 5-11, the name “DeSantis” was mentioned more on Fox (177) than “Trump” (142), according to Media Matters. Others also recognize Trump’s power over viewers: Trump was mentioned 925 times on MSNBC in the same week, compared with 268 for DeSantis.
Back on January 8, 2021, two days after the U.S. Capitol riot, Fox News founder Rupert Murdoch wrote in an email to former Fox executives that the network was turning.
“We want Trump to be an impersonal person,” Murdoch wrote, according to documents disclosed as part of the election technology company’s defamation lawsuit against Fox.
The trend away from Trump accelerated after the midterm elections, when the candidates he supported performed worse than he expected. When he announced he was running for president again in November, Fox didn’t deliver his speech in full.
Other media properties controlled by Murdoch were even harsher: The New York Post headlined its story: “Floridas make the announcement.” After the midterm elections, the Wall Street Journal ran an editorial with the headline “Trump is the Republican Party’s biggest loser”.
As spring approached, however, Fox warmed to the former president again. The network live-streamed Trump’s entire 90-minute speech to the Conservative PAC on March 4.
On Tuesday night, Carlson was understandably reticent to discuss his critical texts and emails aimed at Trump after the 2020 election, as court documents related to the Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit show. Rewind to January 2021, when Carlson said his show could pretty much ignore Trump most nights. “I hate him so much,” he wrote.
In an interview with WABC radio last month, Carlson said an injured Trump called him seeking an explanation after the text messages became public. Carlson said he was outraged that the Trump campaign’s election message had been proven wrong.
He told the radio station that he found Trump “funny and insightful,” and he has spent four years defending his policies on the air.
—David Boulder, Associated Press
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