It should not come as a surprise that Donald Trump is intimately invested in the inner workings of Fox News, but a new report in Vanity Fair alleges that the president had a direct hand in helping host Jeanine Pirro stay on the air after she suggested that Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar supported Sharia law and was disloyal to America.
The report is centered around efforts by Rupert Murdoch’s son Lachlan to balance the growing discontent inside Fox News as it rapidly transforms itself into Trump TV. But one detail stands out from the Pirro episode: that rather than a few tweet-blasts, the president personally called Rupert Murdoch to ensure that Pirro would be allowed to continue spewing vitriol and bigotry.
Inside Fox, staffers speculated Pirro would be fired, two sources told me, but Trump pre-empted such a move by calling Rupert Murdoch to complain about her suspension. Fox agreed to allow Pirro to come back on the air but cut her opening monologue, a venue for her most incendiary rhetoric. When Trump found out about that, he called Rupert again, a source said. A compromise was proposed: Pirro could return and deliver a shortened version of her opening statement. “Trump called Rupert, and Rupert put pressure on the executives,” a source briefed on the conversations told me. (The White House did not respond to a request for comment. A spokesperson for Fox News said the network’s management never discussed canceling Pirro’s show.)
We’ve reached out to the White House for comment and will update if we hear back.
The rest of the piece flirts with the idea that Lachlan is going to change or moderate the tone of Fox News, citing sources that point to his hiring of Donna Brazile and—lol—Paul Ryan as evidence that he’s “not a MAGA diehard.” Instead, these sources reassure readers that the younger Murdoch is a “libertarian conservative,” who doesn’t like Trump that much. Nothing about that, of course, will stop him from profiting wildly off of the president and all his shithead friends for as long as he possibly can, but sure.