A Fox News reporter, during the 2016 campaign, uncovered the story of President Trump having an alleged affair with adult actress Stormy Daniels and engaging in a purported hush money scheme to cover it up. But the story never ran, and the reporter who authored it says that Rupert Murdoch, the owner of Fox News’ parent company, killed the story personally.
That’s according to a major piece by author Jane Mayer in The New Yorker, which published on Monday.
Mayer’s piece, titled “The Making of the Fox News White House,” looks at both Fox News in the Trump era and Trump White House, whose communications director since last year has been Bill Shine, a former Fox News executive.
The piece makes several revelations. First, Sean Hannity, the Fox News host, often has greater access to the president than other members of the press and is “like a member of the Administration because he virtually is one.” Second, other Fox hosts, like Lou Dobbs, are essentially acting as policy advisors. Another revelation is that Shine, despite having left Fox News two years ago, is allegedly still being paid by the network, to the tune of millions of dollars.
The piece also says that Trump has a system in which he ranks Fox News on-air personnel on a scale of 1 to 10 for their loyalty, with Hannity rating a 10 and Fox and Friends host Steve Doocy getting a 12. Also, it reveals that Trump had directed then-economic adviser Gary Cohn to lean on the Justice Department to block the AT&T/Time Warner merger, implicitly to retaliate against CNN.
There is also detail that Trump had been approached to create a Fox News rival, with Steve Bannon in a major role, had he lost the election in 2016.
On the Daniels story, Mayer reports that Diana Falzone, a reporter for FoxNews.com, worked for much of 2016 on the report, ultimately nailing it down close to the election. But editors sat on the story for a long time, and it ultimately never ran. Falzone said that a higher-up told her “Good reporting, kiddo. But Rupert wants Donald Trump to win. So just let it go.” Falzone was demoted, and later sued the network
The Wall Street Journal – also owned by Murdoch – ultimately broke the Daniels story, although it was more than a year later and not during the election.
— The New Yorker (@NewYorker) March 4, 2019
Overall, Mayer’s piece supposedly illustrates how much of a revolving door the administration and Fox News have been, with former White House communications director Hope Hicks becoming a corporate executive with the company, former Fox News contributors like Ben Carson and John Bolton joining the administration, and former Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle dating Donald Trump, Jr.
This all comes, ironically, after Trump feuded for a time with Fox News during the 2016 primaries after he insulted then-Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly during and after a presidential debate, and went on to skip a later, Fox-hosted debate. Mayer reports that some within Fox believe that then-Fox News boss Roger Ailes had tipped off Trump that the question was coming.
And the piece alleges that, following a series of sexual harassment scandals in 2016 and 2017 that pushed out Fox News’ longtime boss Ailes and anchor Bill O’Reilly, that Fox is more powerful than ever.