Trump candidacy gets upbeat response on Fox News primetime hour
(Reuters) – Donald Trump said he would make a third bid for the U.S. presidency, in an announcement that was carried live on Fox News’ “Hannity” show Tuesday.
Trump received an upbeat response from host Sean Hannity, a longtime supporter who has interviewed the former president on myriad occasions, and guests including Fox contributor Mike Huckabee and “Fox & Friends Weekend” co-host Pete Hegseth.
“He is the preeminent fighter for freedom, for America First, of our generation,” said Hegseth in remarks after Trump’s announcement.
The show’s enthusiasm about Trump’s candidacy runs counter to some of the harsher criticism that Fox and other news outlets controlled by Rupert Murdoch have levied against Trump in the days since the midterm elections.
“The GOP, the and the country, would be best served if Mr. Trump ceded the field to the next generation of Republican leaders to compete for the nomination in 2024,” the Murdoch-controlled Wall Street Journal’s editorial board wrote on Monday.
“If Mr. Trump insists on running, then Republican voters will have to decide if they want to nominate the man most likely to produce a GOP loss.”
On midterm election night, some Fox News analysts singled out Trump for criticism when the “red wave” that was expected to sweep Republican candidates into office amounted to a trickle.
Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume criticized, without naming, Trump as someone “who raised a ton of money, but spent very damn little of it to support the candidates he’d endorsed.”
As the week’s vote tallies revealed Democrats would retain control of the Senate, and Republicans would capture a slender majority in the House, Fox’s analysts looked for an explanation.
On Nov. 9 Fox News host Laura Ingraham said that for the GOP to win the 2024 election, the party must look for candidates who are focused on winning — not “settling a score.”
“The populist movement is about ideas. It is not about any one person,” Ingraham said. “If the voters conclude that you’re putting your own ego or your own grudges ahead of what’s good for the country, they’re going to look elsewhere. Period.”
That same day, host Tucker Carlson described Trump as a political mixed-blessing.
“The downsides are marbled with the upsides, but in this case, he’s certainly not the single cause of anything,” Carlson said. “Whether you like Trump or not — and many don’t and a lot do — it’s a lot more complicated than just him.”
In the days leading up to Tuesday’s announcement, Murdoch’s newspapers took swings at Trump, blaming him in opinion columns and editorials for the Republican Party’s midterm election losses.
The New York Post tabloid’s cover depicted Trump as Humpty Dumpty, with the headline, “Don (who couldn’t build a wall) had a great fall — can all the GOP’s men put the party back together again?”
In an opinion piece, columnist John Podhoretz called the former president “Toxic Trump,” whose endorsement was “perhaps the most profound vote repellent in modern American history.”
The Wall Street Journal echoed that sentiment, and on Nov. 9 published an editorial, “Trump Is the Republican Party’s Biggest Loser,” that noted the losses of Trump-backed candidates “in states that were clearly winnable,” including New Hampshire and Pennsylvania.
Fox cut away from Trump’s press conference for brief analysis and commentary Tuesday, and then returned to the live feed, which continued beyond “Hannity”’s primetime hour and into Laura Ingraham’s “Ingraham Angle,” where both the host and her guests had a more measured response to the announcement.
Fox News did not respond to a request seeking comment.
(Reporting by Dawn Chmielewski in Los Angeles and Helen Coster in New York; Editing by Michael Perry)