IMMEDIATE RELEASE August 20, 2023
Today’s Events in Historical Perspective
America’s Longest-Running Column Founded 1932
He who made him could destroy him
By Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift
WASHINGTON —The man most responsible for propelling Donald Trump into the White House is beginning to look like the man who will prevent Trump’s return engagement. It is a sad commentary on the U.S. political system that one man, an Australian immigrant billionaire media mogul, 92-year-old Rupert Murdoch, should have so much power.
Eight candidates whose last name isn’t Trump will be on Murdoch’s Fox News debate stage in Milwaukee. The former president rather than mingle with his challengers is floating ideas for counter programming, maybe even an interview with fired Fox anchor Tucker Carlson.
It is often said that Trump is his own worst enemy. Fox is sponsoring Wednesday’s debate, and if Trump doesn’t show up, that hurts viewership, depresses ratings, and costs Murdoch money.
Murdoch was present at the creation of Fox and decades later, he still rules the roost.
So, Donald snubs Rupert at his peril.
After the Georgia indictment was handed down late Monday evening, the network did not line up in Trump’s corner. Fox anchors said pretty much what everybody else said, that it was time for Trump to face up to the fact that he lost the 2020 election.
Fox did not mock the indictment of Trump and 18 other people on RICO charges (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations statute), a signal that this indictment, Trump’s fourth, might be different. For starters, should Trump win reelection, he cannot pardon himself from state charges.
Former Georgia Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan (R), who testified before the Grand Jury on Monday, is urging his party to see the indictment as a “pivot point” to turn away from Trump’s grievances.
Meanwhile, conservative legal experts filed an amicus brief in federal court in support of special counsel Jack Smith’s request for a trial to begin on January 2nd in the case against Trump for fraud and obstruction related to the events leading up to the 1/6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Among the 11 signers is Michael Luttig, an eminent legal scholar who testified before the 1/6 committee, and Alberto Gonzales, who was President George W. Bush’s attorney general.
Trump is fading in the polls as more Americans understand he did something wrong, even if they are not quite sure what it was exactly. Trump’s ability to skirt the rules is being tested. Asked if they would vote for Trump if he were convicted of a felony by a jury on any of the multiple charges he faces, 45 percent of Republicans said they would not, and 52 percent said they would not vote for him if he was in jail at the time of the election.
At the same time, the poll, conducted by AP National Opinion research Center, found Trump leading his closest Republican competitor, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, 47 percent to 13 percent.
Momentum in politics is everything, and if Trump starts slipping, it’s all downhill from there. His showmanship will be scrutinized at every turn. If he skips the debate, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will call him a coward. The other candidates to varying degrees will criticize his actions while condemning what they call the weaponizing of the Department of Justice.
So, the first GOP debate of the 2024 campaign season is a big deal in the news business. Rupert Murdoch, who used his power and influence to host this opening event does not like Trump raining on his parade and threatening to bring Tucker Carlson back into the picture.
Carlson’s lies cost Fox a lot of money in its settlement with Dominion Voting Machines, and Carlson is still at odds with Fox over the terms of his contract which forbid any competitive gigs for a stated time.
Say what you will about Murdoch, he remains a force in the media having created and sustained an infrastructure on the Right to support and perpetuate his brand of politics.
He created Trump, a power no billionaire or any other individual should have, and he has the power to take him down and probably will.
Eleanor Clift’s latest book Selecting a President, and Douglas Cohn’s latest books The President’s First Year: The Only School for Presidents Is the Presidency and World War 4: Nine Scenarios (endorsed by seven flag officers).
© 2023 U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.
Distributed by U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.
END WASHINGTON MERRY-GO-ROUND
IMMEDIATE RELEASE August 20, 2023