Can Donald Trump make a successful bid for the Republican presidential nomination without Fox News?
Fox News cut away from Trump’s announcement to run for president on Tuesday night. Can Trump be able to win without the full support of the news network?
Last night, during Donald Trump’s announcement that he was running for president, Fox News cut away from his speech before the president had finished. The latest in a series of jabs taken by the network that has frustrated the former president and his supporters.
Recently, Trump has tried to diminish his role in the failure of the GOP to secure a larger majority in both the House in the Senate by saying that only twenty-two losses of the more than 232 endorsements. It is important to remember that many states where Trump focused his endorsements were in ‘red’ or in districts where a Republican was likely to win regardless of his support. It was in these critical races, like that for Senate in Arizona, Nevada, and Pennsylvania, or House races in Ohio, Michigan, and Washington, where the failure of Trump’s hand-selected candidates lost the GOP the opportunity to control both houses of Congress.
Fox News turns on DJT
During the Republican primaries in 2016, Fox News did not throw its full weight behind Donald Trump. It wasn’t until he won the nomination that the network became one of his loudest supporters. Now, after losing the 2020 General Election and a shocking upset in these past midterms, many Fox pundits and hosts, as well as other right-wing media figures, are distancing themselves from the former president.
Laura Ingram launched a veiled attack on Trump, saying, “The populist movement is about ideas, it is not about any one person, and if the voters conclude that you are putting your own ego or your own grudges ahead of what is good for the country, they are going to look elsewhere. Period.”
Many other GOP party operatives and commentators are concerned that Trump is too divisive and would not be able to deliver a victory in 2024, and are beginning to promote other candidates, most notably Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida. Jason Chaffetz, former Utah Congressman, said on Fox that while the voters he is talking to love Donald Trump and his policies, and the fact that he beat Hillary Clinton, they are tired of all the drama and that many favor Ron DeSantis.
Trump responds to the turning tide
Trump has noticed the shifting tide and, last week, sent a fundraising e-mail to his supporters bashing Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Post, calling them “NewsCorp.” For Trump, NewsCorp, which is a dig at corporate media, “is all in for Governor Ron DeSanctimonious” the clunky nickname the former president has given to his most likely rival in the 2024 Republican primary.
In the message, Trump said that DeSantis was “an average REPUBLICAN Governor with great Public Relations.” The former president, a Florida resident, criticized the governor for closing up the state during covid, “unlike other Republican Governors.” This is a very weird attack considering DeSantis did the opposite, and thousands of people died because the state was focused on re-opening when vaccination rates were still low, and spread was high.
DeSantis won his re-election in Florida handily, and many GOP strategists believe his message, demeanor, and policies could attract a national following large enough to win the party the White House. New polls are also showing that more Republican voters favor DeSantis, which gives the media some evidence to support their move away from Donald Trump.
But, there are a few problems with this strategy.
The first is that Ron DeSantis, while far less dramatic and vivacious than Trump, is just as extreme. In light of the Supreme Court decision on Dobbs, DeSantis promised to “expand pro-life protections.” Florida passed a fifteen-week abortion that does not include experiences of rape, incest, or victims of human trafficking. It does allow termination in cases where there is a “fatal fetal abnormality” or if the pregnancy poses a “serious risk” to the mother’s physical health.
The publicity stunt of sending unknowing and vulnerable migrants, including children, to Martha’s Vinyard backfired. Additionally, his decision to arrest people for voting when they had been allowed to register after serving their felony sentence was seen by many moderates as heartbreakingly cruel. For a party worried about attracting voters of color and young voters, particularly young women, it is not clear that these sorts of policies will attract the coalition they need.
The second problem is Donald Trump. Do many of the candidates that ran against him in 2016 have a national profile today? Marco Rubio? Ted Cruz? Jeb Bush? Trump’s mockery of many of these candidates grabbed the attention of many voters and led him to victory, but it is unclear if DeSantis, even if able to beat Trump, would come out in a strong enough position to take on a Democrat in the 2024 general election.
DeSantis has not offered a clear answer as to whether or not he will run. When asked in recent months, he has said that he is focused on the governor’s race. Trump does not find this answer sufficient, saying in that same e-mail, “Well, in terms of loyalty and class, that’s really not the right answer.”
Fox News may be able to pull some voters away from Trump’s base, but it is unclear how much power they have to influence voters, considering DJT managed to win the Republican primary in 2016 with little support from mainstream media.
If 2016 is evidence that Trump can win without Fox News, we have our answer.