At the same time when President Donald Trump was fighting to stay in the White House following the 2020 election, Fox News mogul Rupert Murdoch hosted Florida Governor Ron DeSantis at his California ranch and promised to put the full weight of his network behind the Republican if he decided to run for president in 2024, according to a new report.
Vanity Fair first reported on the meeting where Murdoch expressed regret in not asking his anchors to denounce claims by President Trump and his attorneys that the election was rigged by faulty voting machines. “I would have liked us to be stronger in denouncing it in hindsight,” the Fox founder said according to a witness to the meeting.
The network recently reached a $787 million settlement with Dominion Voting Systems to stave off a defamation trial and as part of the deal dismissed its primetime host Tucker Carlson. The firing came after years of network executives shifting the blame away from staff and onto Carlson and other anchors for making the claims which led to the Dominion suit.
DeSantis, who announced his candidacy in a glitch-ridden Twitter sit down with Elon Musk and a number of other allies on Wednesday, has benefited over the years from Fox’s soft ban on President Trump since he left the White House in 2021. The Florida governor has been a frequent guest across the network’s program schedule, joining Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, and others to talk about the news of the day and his record of accomplishments back home. Fox recently began inching back into coverage of the former president and will host a town hall between Hannity and Trump on Thursday.
The battle between Trump and DeSantis for the Republican nomination is only just beginning and will challenge the various strengths each brings to the table. While the president is known for his everyman messaging and headline-grabbing provocations, DeSantis has proved to be a formidable fundraiser; in the first 24 hours since announcing his candidacy the Florida governor secured $8.2 million in donations, roughly double the $4 million raised by Trump following his criminal indictment.