Rupert Murdoch loathes Donald Trump so much that the billionaire has not just soured on him as a presidential candidate but often wishes for his death, the author Michael Wolff writes in his eagerly awaited new book on the media mogul, The Fall: The End of Fox News and the Murdoch Dynasty.
According to Wolff, Murdoch, 92, has become “a frothing-at-the-mouth” enemy of the 77-year-old former US president, often voicing thoughts including “This would all be solved if … ” and “How could he still be alive, how could he?”
The Fall was announced last month and will be published in the US next Tuesday. The Guardian obtained a copy.
Wolff has written three tell-all books about Trump – Fire and Fury, Siege and Landslide – and one about Murdoch, The Man Who Owns the News. In his second Murdoch book, he says he may be “the journalist not in his employ who knows [Murdoch] best”.
Wolff also describes his source material as “conversations specifically for this book, and other conversations that have taken place over many years … scenes and events that I have personally witnessed or that I have recreated with the help of participants in them”.
After Trump entered US politics in 2015, winning the White House the following year, he, along with an increasingly extreme Republican party, Fox News and other properties in Murdoch’s rightwing media empire formed a symbiotic relationship.
But Murdoch has long been reported to have soured on Trump – a process which, according to Wolff, saw Murdoch personally endorse the Fox News call of Arizona for Joe Biden on election night in 2020 that fueled Trump’s campaign of lies about voter fraud, culminating in the deadly January 6 attack on Congress.
By the beginning of this year, Wolff writes, what Murdoch “adamantly didn’t want … was Trump.
“Of all Trump’s implacable enemies, Murdoch had become a frothing-at-the-mouth one. His relatively calm demeanor from the early Trump presidency where, with a sigh, he could dismiss him merely as a ‘fucking idiot’ had now become a churning stew of rage and recrimination.
“Trump’s death became a Murdoch theme: “We would all be better off …? “This would all be solved if …” “How could he still be alive, how could he?” “Have you seen him? Have you seen what he looks like? What he eats?”
Trump has regularly claimed to be exceptionally fit for his age, claims backed by doctors when he was in the White House. He also claims to be more mentally fit for office than Biden, his 80-year-old successor, claims many observers increasingly doubt.
After Trump left office, Wolff writes, Murdoch “like much of the Republican establishment … had convinced himself that Trump was, finally, vulnerable. That his hold on the base and on Republican politicians had weakened enough that now was the time to kill him off, finally.”
But now, as another election year approaches, Trump is in rude political health.
Notwithstanding 91 criminal charges – for state and federal election subversion, retention of classified information and hush-money payments – and assorted civil cases, Trump leads the Republican primary by vast margins in national and key state polling, the overwhelming favourite to win the nomination to face Biden in another White House battle.