Fox News held talks with former White House press secretary


Fox News has held talks with Kayleigh McEnany, the former White House press secretary, about an on-air job at the network, in another sign the Murdoch media empire will stick close to Donald Trump’s most prominent advocates even as some conservatives turn against them.

The Murdoch-owned cable news powerhouse had conversations with Ms McEnany after the November election, but those talks are on hold, according to people familiar with the matter. Fox is open to hiring her in the future because the network “does not condone cancel culture”, said a person familiar with the company’s thinking. 

The potential hire comes after Rupert Murdoch, the octogenarian founder of Fox News and News Corp, launched an attack on “cancel culture” at the weekend and warned about the dangers of what he described as “woke-ism”.

Fox, alongside other US news companies, is navigating a new political era after the chaotic Trump presidency fuelled a captivating news cycle, powering record television ratings and a boom in newspaper subscriptions in recent years. 

Observers have questioned how Mr Murdoch will position his influential media properties during a Biden presidency, after widespread condemnation of Mr Trump’s role in inciting the deadly Capitol riots. 

Some of the former president’s supporters railed against Fox News in the aftermath of the November election, when the network called the vote in favour of Joe Biden even as Trump refuted the results. This led to a splintering in conservative audiences, as some Trump loyalists flocked to niche media broadcasters such as Newsmax.

In recent days, Mr Murdoch’s comments and coverage in his outlets suggest he is determined to shore up the family media empire position as the unapologetic home of America’s conservative politics, with a line-up of Fox hosts who appeal to the Trump base. 

Accepting a “lifetime achievement” award from the Australia Day non-profit at the weekend, the 89-year-old Mr Murdoch declared: “I’m far from done.”

“For those of us in media, there’s a real challenge . . . a wave of censorship that seeks to silence conversation,” he said in a pre-recorded video. 

“Too many people have fought too hard in too many places for freedom of speech to be suppressed by this awful woke orthodoxy,” Mr Murdoch said. 

The Murdoch-owned New York Post on Monday splashed its front page with an opinion column by Josh Hawley, the Republican Senator who attempted to overturn the election results even after the Capitol riots in Washington. “Time to take a stand against the muzzling of America,” read the front page headline.

Mr Hawley struck a similar tone to Mr Murdoch, arguing his challenge of the electoral results was a matter of freedom of speech. Simon & Schuster this month cancelled its planned publication of Mr Hawley’s book, citing its “responsibility as citizens” and his role in “what became a dangerous threat”. 

Fox had close ties with the White House for much of Mr Trump’s tenure as president, with a two-way flow of staff including Hope Hicks and the longtime Fox News executive Bill Shine. Sarah Huckabee Sanders became a paid Fox contributor after leaving the White House.

Fox on Tuesday announced it had hired Larry Kudlow, the Trump administration’s top economic adviser, as a commentator and host of a weekday show on its Fox Business channel.

Ms McEnany, a former CNN commentator turned spokesperson for the Republican National Committee, was hired by Mr Trump last year. During her time at the White House, she frequently appeared on Fox, where in recent months she echoed Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of mass voter fraud in the election.

A Fox News spokesperson said: “Kayleigh McEnany is not currently an employee or contributor at Fox News.”

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