The 86-year-old Rupert Murdoch has a new job: counsellor and mentor to the Trump administration, especially its foot in mouth mouthpiece, Sean Spicer. According to a report in The New York Times on Saturday.

“The media mogul Rupert Murdoch is on the phone every week, encouraging Mr. Trump when he’s low and arguing that he focus on the economy rather than detouring to other issues …

“Mr. Trump’s relationships depend on two crucial measures: personal success and loyalty to him. Mr. Murdoch excels in both categories … 

“The two share preferences for transactional tabloid journalism and never giving in to critics. (Mr. Trump said the fallen Fox star Bill O’Reilly should not have settled sexual harassment complaints.) The president’s relationship with Mr. Murdoch is deeper and more enduring than most in his life, and the two commiserate and plot strategy in their phone calls, according to people close to both.”

Now isn’t that simply wonderful, the main owner of 70%-plus of Australia’s daily newspaper circulation throwing his lot in with the most unpopular President. But the key question is whether this proximity is influencing the Murdoch clan’s News Corp papers in Australia, the UK and US.

Judging by The Wall Street Journal’s internal rumblings and weak efforts on Trump (except for the op-ed piece a couple of months ago that took him to task over several small issues), you’d be right in thinking that the Murdoch empire is lock solid with Trump and not interested in reporting anything by Rupert’s gospel. And woe betide any editor who steps off the chosen path (they don’t have to be told, they know instinctively). Certainly, Fox News is in Trump’s back pocket.

You only have to look at the way The New York Times has comprehensively scooped the WSJ and other Murdoch papers (such as The New York Post) on the Bill O’Reilly sexual abuse story (and forced him out with its April 1 bombshell detailing payments by Fox and O’Reilly to five women totalling US$13 million). — Glenn Dyer

Peter Fray

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