Dump Trump? DeSantis fever spreads 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 threw it toward Mar-a-Lago. †Ron DeSantis shows that he is a formidable and dynamic political operator,” Morgan wrote of the 43-year-old Florida governor and hypothesized that he had presidential hopes in 2024. “So, by almost any political metric you choose, this guy is a much better option for leading the Republicans into the 2024 election than Donald Trump… He’s just younger, fresher and more exciting than the aging, furious gorilla turned whiny, democracy-defying bastard.” In his kicker, Morgan swung the knife back and forth: “The game’s up for the Donald… It’s time the Republicans put their trust in the Ronald.”

Trump has history with Morgan, a former British tabloid honcho and transatlantic TV personality who is now spreading his commentary as part of a multiplatform deal with some of Rupert Murdoch‘s outlets in the US, UK and Australia. Morgan won The Famous Apprentice in 2008 and spoke warmly about Trump during his presidency, only to become a vocal Trump critic in the wake of January 6. Piers Morgan uncensored, in which Morgan stated the obvious and told Trump that he had lost the 2020 election. Trump has since silenced Morgan, so it’s not surprising Morgan would fire back. But Morgan’s removal was fully consistent with the broader message blaring from the opinion sections of Murdoch’s US newspapers of late: Dump Trump.

The drumbeat has become apparent with the January 6 hearings that have dominated the news cycle in recent weeks. “The person who owns it on January 6 is Donald Trump,” said the… Wall Street Journal editorial wrote. “Mr. Trump betrayed his supporters by defrauding them on January 6, and he is still doing it.” A After editing went even further. “Look forward to!” the paper urged its constituents. “The field of 2024 is rich. You have the government of Florida. Ron DeSantis, Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former UN ambassador Nikki Haley…the list goes on. All candidates who embrace conservative policies without the worries 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 healthy again.”

There is much more where that came from in the writings of others log and After columnists. Here is Peggy Noonan “Trump voters: ring another audible. Look at the field and the facts, be strategic… Be serious. Move fast. Release the anvil that will sink you to the bottom of the sea in the most exciting waters imaginable. And Michael Goodwin “Trump gives the impression that he is stuck in the past and in need of a new message. While he is clearly still a huge power within the GOP, his old feuds and grievances are already sounding stale, and by 2024 they are unlikely to give up hope. and inspire the confidence America so desperately needs.” And Rich Lowry “No other potential 2024 candidate should have to excuse January 6th and repeat the most outlandish claims about the 2020 election, not Ron DeSantis, not Mike Pens, not Tom Cotton, not Nikki Haley. If none of these candidates sounded like Liz Cheney, neither would be inextricably linked to crazy events from four years earlier. †

Of all these writings, Morgan’s column was the most au courant, given the wave of DeSantis fever in the air (along with ongoing COVID). It comes not just from conservatives salivating over DeSantis’ youthful brand of anti-establishment warfare and boxing populism — albeit belied by elite Ivy League credentials — but from a media that feels like a showdown with Trump could be a major storyline. be heading towards 2024. To that end, Dexter Filkins‘s recent DeSantis profile in The New Yorker has been the talk of the town. And it adds some color to the copious coverage of DeSantis that comes out of Murdoch’s most powerful media fief: Fox News. The cable network helped propel DeSantis to the governor’s mansion — ensuring national exposure ahead of a potential White House run.

What about all this? As someone in Murdoch’s orbit put it, “Rupert is a pragmatic man. He knows better than anyone how to read political tea leaves. It goes without saying that quite a few people in the firmament have begun to dispute the previously supported collective stance on Trump. It is now clear that the gloves are off. When he lashes out, it just makes it easier for people to hit back.”

Elaborating with a little 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 with one goal: to elect Republicans for office. And there’s a strong current among some Republican political operatives, and some people in the conservative movement, that Donald Trump isn’t their best shot at winning — because of his role in what’s happened before, because he seems so obsessed with looking back. watch instead of forward. So this is not a moral statement from Rupert Murdoch’s papers that Donald Trump is evil or the dangers of January 6. They just want another candidate, perhaps Ron DeSantis, to be able to allow them to control the White House again, by which means necessary.”