Trump to return to Fox as they rekindle their mutually beneficial relationship
Donald Trump’s reported “soft ban” from Fox News is at an end, and he’s getting the band back together for the 2024 Republican presidential primary.
Trump will appear on prime-time host Sean Hannity’s show next Monday, the network announced on Wednesday. The interview will mark Trump’s first Fox appearance since September 2022, according to the Media Matters database. Fox weekend host Mark Levin let slip on his radio show the day before that he will also interview Trump the following Sunday.
Trump’s return to the network that served as his personal propaganda organ during his presidency follows a stormy month that led some observers to question whether the Fox-Trump relationship had suffered an irrevocable rupture.
Filings in Dominion Voting System’s $1.6 billion lawsuit against Fox revealed in late February that Rupert Murdoch, Fox’s co-founder and the head of its parent company, had said in a deposition that he never believed Trump’s claims that the 2020 election had been stolen from him and privately bashed the then-president as “increasingly mad.”
Trump responded to those revelations with a series of posts on his Truth Social platform in which he described Fox as a “RINO network” and Murdoch as a “MAGA Hating Globalist RINO,” and called on Murdoch to “apologize to his viewers and readers for his ridiculous defense of the 2020 Presidential Election.”
Meanwhile, members of Trump’s orbit complained to Semafor that he had been hit with a “soft ban” from Fox, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a potential Republican candidate for president and network favorite, received more weekly mentions than Trump for the first time this year as Fox personalities touted his new book and his nascent campaign.
But while Fox and Trump have often squabbled like this over the years, each side gets far too much benefit from their partnership to permanently break it. Fox provides Trump with a tool to reach his supporters and craft his message, while his iron grip on the Republican voters who constitute its audience makes him invaluable to Fox.
As we’ve seen with past instances in which observers claimed that Fox had abandoned Trump, the prospect of external attacks on the former president sent the network scurrying back into his camp. Fox hosts have spent this week furiously defending Trump after he claimed that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s probe of his alleged role in a $130,000 hush-money payment made to porn actor Stormy Daniels shortly before the 2020 election was about to lead to his arrest. Meanwhile, new polling showed Trump holding a dominant position in the GOP primary.
Trump’s Fox interviews will provide him with opportunities to get his message out without facing critical questions. Hannity is effectively a Trump political operative and was so influential during his administration that White House staffers reportedly described him as the shadow chief of staff. And Levin was an architect of Trump’s election subversion plan and among the staunchest supporters of his effort to remain in office after losing.
Attention from Fox, the most trusted outlet on the right, can be critical in Republican primaries. No one knows that better than Trump; in 2016, his romp to the nomination was helped by more than 49 hours of interview airtime on the network (including more than 17 hours on Hannity), more than twice as much as any other candidate.