Steve Bannon, the former White House chief strategist under the Trump administration, recently criticized Fox News over its coverage of former President Donald Trump.
“Note to Fox News senior management: When Donald J. Trump talks, it’s newsworthy,” Bannon said at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).
He began his remarks by referencing Fox News’ decision to call Arizona for then-candidate Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.
“Fox News illegitimately called it for the opposition, and not Donald J. Trump,” he said.
Later in his speech, Bannon criticized Rupert Murdoch, the owner, and co-chairman of Fox Corp.
“Murdoch, you’ve deemed Trump’s not going to be president. Well, we’ve deemed that you’re not going to have a network. Because we’re going to fight you every step of the way,” he said.
The network hasn’t featured Trump since he announced his presidential candidacy in November 2022. It has, however, frequently featured Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) – who, according to polls, is Trump’s strongest rival for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination.
In CPAC’s latest straw poll, Trump received 62% of support among CPAC attendees, while DeSantis received only 20%.
Here is the CPAC straw poll:
Trump at 62% followed by DeSantis at 20%.
Somebody named Perry Johnson came in third. pic.twitter.com/EiSfiW0Imp
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) March 4, 2023
In March 2021, Dominion Voting Systems filed a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News, arguing that the network claimed that the voting company “rigged” the 2020 presidential election.
Dominion stated that Fox News “sold a false story of election fraud in order to serve its own commercial purposes, severely injuring Dominion in the process.”
In a deposition, Murdoch said the network should have been “stronger in denouncing” Trump’s election fraud claims, calling them “damaging.” He added that after the protests on Jan. 6, 2021, Fox News wanted “to make Trump a non-person.”
“We have to lead our viewers which is … not as easy as it might seem,” he said, according to the filing.
Fox News defended its coverage and called Dominion’s lawsuit “baseless.”
Bannon responded to Murdoch’s testimony, saying, “They don’t respect you, read the depositions. They have a fear, a loathing and a contempt for you.”
“The Murdochs immediately have to start covering President Trump. No special deals, just cover the man, ask the tough questions,” he added. “But we need to hear the voice of Donald J. Trump.”
He advocated for former House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) removal from the board of directors at Fox Corp. Ryan currently serves as chair of the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee.