- Michael Wolff is the author of three books on Trump and one on Murdoch.
- Wolff says Murdoch hates Trump.
- But Murdoch won’t change Fox News because it’s too profitable, and he doesn’t have control over its hosts anyway.
I’m Nicholas Carlson, the global editor in chief of Insider. Here’s the latest installment of my series, The 600-Word Interview, condensed and edited for clarity.
Your book makes it clear that Rupert Murdoch despises Donald Trump. This is surprising given how much his network, Fox News, helps the former president. Why does he allow that to continue?
Money, money, money.
What keeps him from at least setting out broad editorial guidelines like “You must tell the truth”?
This is Rupert Murdoch. I know of no instance in the past 70 years when he’s ever set out that as a guideline. That’s not the way Rupert runs an organization. It’s not the way Rupert sees the function of a news organization. The news organization is something meant to create a narrative that speaks to an audience.
I mean, there’s no other journalistic standard, really, that goes along with Rupert’s idea of journalism. He doesn’t really have an idea of journalism.
He’s always been willing to propound his own point of view, which is not really represented in Fox. But I don’t think he knows what to do with Fox.
I think he knows that it makes an enormous amount of money now. He would not know how to change it in a way that would do what he wants to do and yet continue on its current financial trajectory.
And I think that this is a transition period. They want to get rid of Fox. They do not see Fox as a long-term asset for them. So don’t muck it up.
So they’re just trying to keep the valuation high for a future buyer, even if vaccine disinformation is getting spread every night?
Right. I don’t necessarily think there’s a buyer who could afford it. They probably have to make it an independent company. So that’s just going to be an issue of how much money it makes. I mean, that’s just my theory on this.
Just to circle back to one thing: You’re saying Fox News is too far gone for Rupert Murdoch, but he wouldn’t even know how to rein it in if he wanted to rein it in?
I think Fox is, in many ways, largely unmanaged now. What has happened here is largely the transition since Roger Ailes’ ouster. Remember, Rupert never was very involved with Fox News. This was entirely Ailes’ division, or really his separate company, in many respects.
And since then, the one thing that Ailes was always against — letting Republican politicians run the network instead of the network running Republican politicians — has dramatically reversed. The business model now is Trump. Trump all the time. Only Trump.