Rupert Murdoch urges Donald Trump not to run in 2024, threatening to back a Democrat if he does

Rupert Murdoch has told Donald Trump that he will not back any attempt by the former president to return to the White House and could even back a Democrat against him, sources close to the media mogul have told i.

It is understood that News Corp and Fox News chairman Mr Murdoch has, in the past few days, made it clear to Mr Trump that the poor showing from the Republican candidates he backed during the US midterm elections last week has put an end to his political career.

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One senior News Corp source told i: “We have been clear with Donald. There have been conversations between them during which Rupert made it clear to Donald that we cannot back another run for the White House.”

It is also understood that Mr Murdoch’s son Lachlan, who is co-chairman of News Corp and chief executive of Fox News’ parent company Fox Corporation, has informed Florida Governor Ron DeSantis that the family’s media clout would get behind him should he run for the White House, even if Mr Trump stands against him and whether Joe Biden is the Democrat candidate or not.

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“Lachlan has been keen on Ron for some time,” said the source. “He’s viewed within the organisation as a sanitised version of Donald.”

Following Mr DeSantis’s strong showing in the midterms last week, the source added that the Murdochs’ approval of him is now “stronger than ever”.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is understood to be the Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch’s preferred Republican candidate for the 2024 presidential race (Photo: Giorgio Viera/AFP)
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is understood to be Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch’s preferred Republican candidate for the 2024 presidential race (Photo: Giorgio Viera/AFP)
US President Donald Trump (left) is embraced by Rupert Murdoch in May 2017 (Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)
Donald Trump is embraced by Rupert Murdoch in May 2017 (Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty)

While the endorsement from the Murdochs may prove to be enough to persuade Mr DeSantis to mount a run for the presidency, should he choose not to, News Corp and Fox News is unlikely to back Mr Trump against a bid for a second term from incumbent President Biden.

The source added that the Murdochs would “likely remain neutral” if Joe Biden stands against Mr Trump in 2024. However, the family is open to backing another Democrat candidate should Mr Biden step aside and Mr Trump be on the Republican ticket.

The source said: “If it turns out to be Donald versus Joe then it may be that we just cover the race without any leanings one way or the other.”

However, the source added that if the Democrats could “find a credible candidate to take Joe’s place” then the Murdoch media empire could back the Democrats against Mr Trump “for the sake of stability and a sensible White House”.

The source added that while the Murdochs would consider backing a “non-Biden” candidate against Mr Trump, the chances of doing so were slim: “A lot of things would have to fall into place for that to happen. Joe would not be running, and the Democrats would have to have a new strong candidate. And that is not Kamala [Vice-President Harris]. But I don’t believe the Democrats know who could replace Joe yet so he may well go for a second term, especially given his relative success in the midterms.”

President Biden is not expected to confirm whether he will seek a second term until the beginning of next year.

It is understood that the Murdochs viewed Mr Trump’s behaviour around the storming of the Capitol in January 2021 as the final straw in the relationship between the media empire and the former president.

“The controversial statements from Donald around the result of the 2020 presidential election were, for many, the beginning of the end of his political career,” another News Corp source added. “Donald may not realise that quite yet, but many others have.”

Lachlan Murdoch (right) with his father Rupert Murdoch in July 2017 (Photo: Getty)
Lachlan Murdoch with his father Rupert in July 2017 (Photo: Getty)
The New York Post mocked 'Trumpty Dumpty' on its front page this morning after the US midterms (Photo: New York Post)
The New York Post mocked ‘Trumpty Dumpty’ on its front page on Monday after the US midterms (Photo: New York Post)

The much-vaunted “red wave” that would have seen the Republicans sweep to victory in both Congress and the Senate did not materialise in the midterms, with many of Mr Trump’s favoured candidates losing races for both houses.

As it stands, and with a handful of races for the Congress remaining too close to call, the Republicans are expected to win a far smaller majority in the House of Representatives than was predicted, while the Democrats’ control of the Senate was confirmed after the crucial race in Nevada was announced in their favour late on Saturday.

Despite losing the backing of News Corp and Fox News, reports suggest Mr Trump is still intending to make what he has called “a very big announcement” on primetime television on Tuesday evening.

He is expected to make an official announcement from his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, on Tuesday, despite mounting concerns from Republican Party leaders that any attempt to return to the White House could backfire for the party when it comes to the presidential election a little under two years.

In an interview with US network CBS, Jason Miller, a longtime adviser to the former president, said: “President Trump is going to announce on Tuesday that he’s running for president. And it’s going to be a very professional, very buttoned-up announcement.”

He added that Mr Trump was “fired up” about a 2024 run.

How the Murdoch empire has turned away from Trump

The latest public sign of the Murdochs’ reluctance to back another Trump run came when the media tycoon’s Fox News openly encouraged the former darling of the Republican right to postpone his Tuesday announcement.

During last Thursday’s edition of The Story with Martha MacCallum, MacCallum quoted conservative columnist and historian Victor Davis Hanson, suggesting that Democratic opposition to “a flawed and impaired” Biden run again in 2024 will recede.

“Republican loyalty to the unpredictable Trump could fade. And both those realities will empower DeSantis,” she added.

The opposition to Mr Trump from the Murdoch empire follows front pages that were highly critical of the former president in News Corp’s Wall Street Journal and New York Post last week.

Other allies seeking a delay to Mr Trump’s announcement include his former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who now also works at Fox News. Ms McEnany said her former boss should wait until after the Georgia runoff before announcing another run for president.

“I know there’s a temptation to starting talking about 2024 – no, no, no, no, no,” McEnany said on Fox News’s Outnumbered show. “I think he [Mr Trump] needs to put it on pause, absolutely.”

She also appeared to back Mr DeSantis over her old boss when asked if the former president should travel to Georgia to support Republican candidate Herschel Walker in the Georgia Senate run-off, which takes place next month.

She answered: “I think we’ve got to make strategic calculations. Governor DeSantis, I think he should be welcome to the state.”

Mr Murdoch’s current moves to bring Fox News back under News Corp control – after eight years as an independent part of the family empire – are viewed as a further attempt to ensure the organisation is united in its message against a potential run at the presidency by Mr Trump.

Murdoch has told Donald Trump he will not have the support of News Corp if he makes another bid for the White House (Photo: Richard Drew/AP)
Rupert Murdoch has told Donald Trump he will not have the support of News Corp if he makes another bid for the White House (Photo: Richard Drew/AP)

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