For a second consecutive day, the recriminations about Republicans’ unexpectedly weak election day performance played a prominent role on the pages and over the airwaves of Rupert Murdoch’s media properties. And the consensus wasn’t kind to former President Donald J. Trump.
“Trump is the Republican Party’s biggest loser,” declared the headline on a Wall Street Journal editorial on Thursday, which accused Mr. Trump of having “flopped in 2018, 2020, 2021 and 2022.”
The cover of the New York Post on Thursday was just as scalding, if slightly more tongue-in-cheek. It had an illustration of Mr. Trump depicted as Humpty Dumpty. “Don (who couldn’t build a wall) had a great fall — can all the GOP’s men put the party back together again?” the headline read.
Inside, the Post ran an opinion piece by the conservative writer John Podhoretz, a frequent critic of the former president, that called Mr. Trump “the most profound vote rebellent in modern American history.”
Fox News spent all day Wednesday featuring commentators who blamed Mr. Trump for dragging the entire party down, and the criticism continued into prime time. Laura Ingraham, who was one of the former president’s biggest boosters in conservative media during his four years in office, took what appeared to be a swipe at him.
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“The populist movement is about ideas,” Ms. Ingraham said. “It is not about any one person. If the voters conclude that you’re putting your own ego or your own grudges ahead of what’s good for the country, they’re going to look elsewhere, period.”
Her colleague Tucker Carlson was gentler in his assessment of the election, saying that Mr. Trump had always been a “mixed blessing” for Republicans. “In this case, he’s certainly not the single cause of anything,” Mr. Carlson added.
The two Murdochs who run the Fox Corporation and its newspaper businesses, Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch, are said to have soured on Mr. Trump lately and expressed concern that he would harm the Republican Party’s chances of winning big on Tuesday. Their discomfort with him, according to people who have spoken with both Murdochs, stems from his refusal to accept the results of the 2020 election.
Over the spring and summer, Mr. Trump was hardly a presence on the network where he was once a fixture, calling in almost nightly. For a stretch of more than 100 days, Fox News did not broadcast a single interview with him.
This is not the first time Murdoch media properties have criticized the former president. Following the revelations of the committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol, The Journal and the Post published blistering editorials condemning his inaction that day.
Of course, the pendulum can always swing back, as it has again and again over the course of the complicated, decades-long relationship between Rupert Murdoch and Mr. Trump. After drawing the ire of the former president and his supporters — and dropping precipitously in the ratings — Fox News followed its election night prediction that Mr. Trump would lose Arizona in 2020 by promoting some of his false claims of widespread voter fraud. The network and its parent company are now facing a $1.6 billion defamation suit from Dominion Voting Systems over those erroneous reports.
Mr. Trump appears to have been watching as Fox guests and anchors blamed him for the underwhelming results on Tuesday. On Thursday he lashed out on his social media platform, Truth Social, writing, “For me, Fox News was always gone, even in 2015-16 when I began ‘my journey.’” He added, “but now they’re really gone. Such an opportunity for another media outlet to make an absolute fortune, and do good for America.”