After Roger Ailes’ Departure, James Murdoch Reportedly Wanted to Install Then-CBS News President David Rhodes as Fox News President

By A.J. Katz 

Below are some of the most interesting tidbits from Jim Rutenberg and Jonathan Mahler‘s opus for New York Times Magazine, titled How Rupert Murdoch‘s Media Empire of Influence Remade the World.

The duo apparently worked on the cover story for the last six months, and interviewed more than 150 people across three continents.

It came out earlier today, and has graced the NYT home page all day.

  1. James Murdoch suggested Fox News hire then-CBS News president David Rhodes as its president, post-Ailes.

James Murdoch is “a self-described political centrist.” Lachlan Murdoch is a bit different in that regard. While they agree on very little when it comes to politics and media, they both had wanted Roger Ailes gone from the company. When the sons finally got Ailes out of the company, following multiple claims of sexual harassment, the more centrist James Murdoch wanted to make the network less partisan.

James proposed the network hire CBS News president David Rhodes to replace Ailes. Rupert Murdoch and son Lachlan reportedly didn’t like that idea, and wanted to hire the next president/CEO from within. In the meantime, Rupert Murdoch would take the reins.

Rhodes actually started his career at Fox News, rising to vp before making the move to Bloomberg News before becoming CBS News president.

Rhodes stepped down from his role as CBS News president at the end of February 2019.

  1. Trump preferred sitting down with Bill O’Reilly over Sean Hannity

It has been reported on many occasions that Trump’s relationship with O’Reilly goes back further than his relationship with Hannity. He reportedly preferred being interviewed by the former over the latter, believe it or not.

Trump was also spending a lot of time on the phone with Hannity, who regularly called the president after his show. Trump had often found him to be too much of a supplicant for his purposes: He preferred his more combative interviews with Bill O’Reilly, which he felt better showcased his pugnaciousness, according to a former White House official. But Trump appreciated Hannity’s loyalty.

  1. After the infamous phone hacking scandal, The Murdochs made a second attempt to acquire Sky. But they were unsuccessful due to the culture inside Fox News Channel.

According to the Times story, the Murdochs twice tried to buy Sky, the British broadcasting behemoth that owns, among other things, Sky News. The first time, the phone-hacking scandal in England ended the attempted acquisition. The Murdochs then made a second attempt, in 2016. This time it was blown up by how U.K. regulators regarded Fox News.

U.K. regulators focused on the culture of Fox News, specifically the millions in payouts to accusers that led to the ouster of Ailes and O’Reilly. Regulators also focused on the ethics of Hannity, particularly his coverage of the Seth Rich conspiracy theory. The British government eventually ruled that no one from the Murdoch family could even serve at Sky.

  1. There was a time during the GOP primaries where Trump was angry at Fox News and Bret Baier for not showing him as the winner during the Special Report Friday night segment Candidate Casino.

It was especially galling to Trump because he and Baier had golfed together, and Baier had briefly been a member at the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach. (Baier dropped his membership when it became clear that Trump was likely to run for the presidency.)

After the Fox contributor and Weekly Standard editor Stephen F. Hayes called Trump “a clown,” Trump faxed Baier a copy of his résumé, with a note scrawled across it in black marker: “Tell Hayes no clown could have done all this!” Trump even complained about Fox while appearing on Fox, ticking off, during a live interview with Sean Hannity, the contributors who should be fired because they were “biased” against him.

  1. The Murdochs are launching a Fox News style network in Australia.

The Murdochs may not have been able to buy the controlling state in Sky, but they did manage to acquire Sky News Australia. According to the Times, the network was once politically balanced. Now, it’s follows the Fox News model of moving to the right in prime time. It’s called Sky After Dark.

Known as Sky After Dark, the opinion-heavy, almost-uniformly right-wing lineup was an entirely new phenomenon in Australian TV. Its nighttime ratings spiked as the network quickly became required viewing for the country’s political class.

6. Perhaps the most interesting graf from the story:

“What we as reporters had not fully appreciated until now is the extent to which these two stories — one of an illiberal, right-wing reaction sweeping the globe, the other of a dynastic media family — are really one. To see Fox News as an arm of the Trump White House risks missing the larger picture. It may be more accurate to say that the White House — just like the prime ministers’ offices in Britain and Australia — is just one tool among many that this family uses to exert influence over world events.”