According to a report in Vanity Fair, the days of Fox News consistently toeing the line laid down by the administration of President Donald Trump may be coming to a close. Since Rupert Murdoch’s oldest son and Fox Corporation and CEO Lachlan took over following the $71 billion sale of the company’s entertainment holdings to Disney, numerous staffers at the network believe there are moves afoot to soften the news division’s hard-right image. The reason for that, many have conjectured, is that Lachlan wants to create some space between the network and the president in order to make the network more attractive to possible buyers.
“Everyone thinks they’re going to sell it,” said one Fox News anchor. “It’s too small to be independent.”
Another reason Fox News employees think there are changes on the wind has to do with Lachlan Murdoch himself, who has widely been described as more of a libertarian conservative rather than a MAGA Trump supporter. Some say changes toward a more balanced network are already visible, for example in the suspension of “Judge” Jeanine Pirro over a monologue that many found offensive in questioning the patriotism of one of the first Muslim women to serve in the House of Representatives, Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.
Also, the recent hiring of former Democratic National Committee chair Donna Brazile as an analyst and bringing on former Rep. Paul Ryan, who has frequently criticized Trump, as a member of the Fox board are seen by many as the younger Murdoch making an effort to burnish the network’s independence.
That portends well for the journalists that work the news side of the network who have long pressed management to rein in the more vitriolic opinion hosts.
“Reporters are telling management that we’re being defined by the worst people on our air,” said one staffer.
One reportedly vocal ally Trump still has in the Fox News family is host Sean Hannity, who has frequently gone to the mat with the Murdochs over various moves, such as firing Roger Ailes and Hannity’s former producer Bill Shine. According to a source at Fox News, Hannity thinks the Murdochs secretly despise Trump and would like to see him taken down a peg.
“Hannity told Trump last year that the Murdochs hate Trump, and Hannity is the only one holding Fox together.”
While Fox News staffers cautioned that changes may be incremental at first, they intimated that the landscape at the network will be different in the near future now that the deal with Disney has closed; Murdoch was reportedly afraid Trump might attempt to scuttle the deal if he got wind of the change in editorial direction Murdoch had planned.