It’s nice to know that Fox News, which has so deranged America while making Rupert Murdoch ungodly sums of money, has in the end made Murdoch miserable, at least if the journalist Michael Wolff is to be believed. But the consolation is a small one.
Murdoch’s unhappiness and befuddlement is the throughline of Wolff’s amusingly vicious and very well-timed book, “The Fall: The End of Fox News and the Murdoch Dynasty,” which is to hit shelves next week, days after Murdoch, 92, announced his retirement from the Fox Corporation and News Corporation boards. Wolff paints Fox’s owner as embarrassed by the channel’s vulgarity and horrified by its ultimate political creation, Donald Trump. Murdoch apparently very much wants to thwart the ex-president, just not at the price of losing a single point in the ratings.
In his tortured enabling of Trump, Murdoch seems the ultimate symbol of a feckless and craven conservative establishment, overmatched by the jingoist forces it encouraged and either capitulating to the ex-president or shuffling pitifully off the public stage. “Murdoch was as passionate in his Trump revulsion as any helpless liberal,” writes Wolff. The difference is that Murdoch’s helplessness was a choice.
Few people bear more responsibility for Trump than Murdoch. Fox News gave Trump a regular platform for his racist lies about Barack Obama’s birthplace. It immersed its audience in a febrile fantasy world in which all mainstream sources of information are suspect, a precondition for Trump’s rise. [Continue reading…]