One of Donald Trump’s favorite newspapers — controlled by his media ally Rupert Murdoch — says Trump is “unworthy to be this country’s chief executive again.”
Those words, in this weekend’s New York Post, may be the tabloid’s strongest critique of Trump yet.
It was published online on Friday evening, around the same time another Murdoch publication, the Wall Street Journal, also published an editorial harshly critiquing the former president.
The Journal called him “The President Who Stood Still on Jan. 6” and praised Vice President Mike Pence. “Character is revealed in a crisis, and Mr. Pence passed his Jan. 6 trial. Mr. Trump utterly failed his,” the Journal editorial stated.
Both newspapers have been noticeably more critical of Trump than Murdoch’s biggest megaphone of all, the Fox News Channel, though close viewers have also picked up on some signs that Fox might be souring on Trump.
The right-wing network does not show his rallies any longer, for example. Potential 2024 presidential candidate Ron DeSantis, the Florida governor, was a featured guest on Fox while Trump held a rally on Friday night.
Both the Post and Journal have conservative editorial boards that are thought to reflect Murdoch’s views. Murdoch said last fall that conservatives must play an active role in the American political debate, “but that will not happen if President Trump stays focused on the past.”
If Murdoch was trying to give Trump advice, it didn’t work. Trump has continued to spread lies about the 2020 election and undermine the House’s investigation into the January 6 insurrection.
After the House committee’s first prime time hearing last month, the Journal’s editorial board said the evidence was a reminder that “Trump betrayed his supporters.”
While the editorial writers have remained skeptical of the House committee and critical of the lack of witness cross-examination, they wrote the following on Friday, after the second prime time hearing: “No matter your views of the Jan. 6 special committee, the facts it is laying out in hearings are sobering. The most horrifying to date came Thursday in a hearing on President Trump’s conduct as the riot raged and he sat watching TV, posting inflammatory tweets and refusing to send help.”
Instead of making excuses or changing the subject, as some conservative commentators have done, the Journal’s editorial said Trump “failed” to do his duty as commander in chief.
Meanwhile, over at the Gray Lady, Ross Douthat is pushing the idea that Trump’s support is weakening with the base.
There’s little doubt that Republican elites would love to get rid of Trump, and replace him with a more competent politician who will pursue essentially the same program of white ethno-nationalism in the service of plutocracy. DeSantis is the obvious replacement at the moment, but there are plenty of other candidates waiting for Trump to fall.
That Murdoch is so eager to give Trump a healthy shove into the void is certainly a significant development. But Trump still has far more support than any other GOP presidential candidate, and, until that begins to change in a serious way, he still has to be considered the overwhelming favorite for the 2024 Republican nomination.