by Peter Welker
Former House Speaker Paul Ryan, who currently sits on the board of Fox Corp., is reportedly urging Fox News to “decisively break” with President Donald Trump, according to a Thursday Vanity Fair report documenting the network’s “management bedlam.”
Vanity Fair’s Gabe Sherman, citing four sources, reported that Fox Corp. CEO Lachlan Murdoch, who has long tried to move Fox News to the center, “is already thinking about how to position the network for a post-Trump future.”
Ryan, the longtime Trump antagonist, has reportedly been suggesting to Murdoch that “Fox should decisively break with the president…must turn on Trump” as Murdoch holds “strategy conversations with Fox executives and anchors about how Fox News should prepare for life after Trump.”
Vanity Fair cited “an executive who’s spoken with Ryan” who simply said: “Paul is embarrassed about Trump and now he has the power to do something about it.”
Trump has repeatedly attacked Fox News of late, accusing the network of showcasing Democrats—and potential presidential opponents—in town halls. On Thursday, three Fox News anchors—Chris Wallace, Bret Baier, and Martha MacCallum—reportedly discussed being the “targets of the president’s tweets,” with Wallace telling the crowd at Advertising Week in New York: “It’s a very surreal thing. I think we all kind of embrace it as: We’ve got his attention, so we must be doing something right.”
MacCallum reportedly added, according to the Hollywood Reporter: “Contrary to the opinion of some people, he’s not our boss.”
Since retiring from the House last year, Ryan has said he viewed his resignation as an “escape hatch” and promptly trashed Trump in a book, saying he wanted to “scold him all the time” because Trump “didn’t know anything about government.”
Ryan also blasted Trump for calling Stormy Daniels “horse face” and claimed he and the other adults in the room prevented Trump “from making bad decisions. All the time.”
“We helped him make much better decisions, which were contrary to kind of what his knee-jerk reaction was,” Ryan reportedly added. “Now I think he’s making some of these knee-jerk reactions.”
Ryan, whose trade and immigration agendas have always been at odds with the America-first platform that got Trump elected, also told the New York Times that he saved the country from “tragedies” before telling an audience in Florida that if 2020 is “about Donald Trump and his personality, he isn’t going to win it.”
In 2016, Breitbart News obtained an audio recording in which Ryan told House Republicans that he was not going to defend Trump after the infamous Access Hollywood tape surfaced.
“His comments are not anywhere in keeping with our party’s principles and values,” Ryan said in the audio recording. “There are basically two things that I want to make really clear, as for myself as your Speaker. I am not going to defend Donald Trump—not now, not in the future. As you probably heard, I disinvited him from my first congressional district GOP event this weekend—a thing I do every year. And I’m not going to be campaigning with him over the next 30 days.”
After the 2012 election, Fox News started drifting away from the right, as Rush Limbaugh noted on numerous occasions. As Breitbart News reported, Limbaugh even said that it was “quite telling” that Fox News did not want him to discuss his opposition to the Gang of Eight’s amnesty bill and added that “Fox News is not considered the conservative network that it used to be” to many in the heartland.
During the 2016 GOP primary season, Fox News used Megyn Kelly to undermine Trump’s candidacy before being more supportive of Trump when he ultimately became the party’s nominee against Hillary Clinton.
After Trump won the White House, he started to essentially live-tweet various Fox News programs, often giving the network, which was well on its way to the center before Trump’s election, his stamp of approval.