Steve Bannon's attack on 'oligarch' Rupert Murdoch shows just how far the rift between Fox News and Trump allies has grown

Former White House chief strategist for the Trump Administration Steve Bannon speaks during the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland.Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images
  • Steve Bannon criticized Fox News in a CPAC speech that got a standing ovation.

  • The speech marked a widening rift between Fox News and the MAGA movement.

  • Fox News bosses criticized Trump while promoting his election fraud claims, court papers show.

Steve Bannon, an ally of Donald Trump, has dramatically escalated the conflict between the former president's MAGA movement and the conservative Fox News network.

In a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Friday, Bannon mocked the network's owner, Rupert Murdoch, and accused the media mogul of trying to stymie Trump's bid to be elected president again in 2024.

The former advisor to Trump and far-right podcaster described Murdoch as an "oligarch" and an "old man," and criticised the family as "a bunch of foreigners" who've given America "nothing."

"Murdoch, you've deemed Trump's not going to be president. Well, we've deemed that you're not going to have a network," he said as the audience stood and cheered. "Because we're going to fight you every step of the way!"

The speech marks an astonishing deterioration of the once symbiotic relationship between Trump and Fox News, which remains the top-rated cable news network.

For years, the network's  hosts, Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, and Sean Hannity, have been among Trump's most adamant media allies, in some cases even serving as informal advisors and sounding boards to Trump during his term in office.

They played a key role in promoting Trump's populist polices, and in denigrating the then-president's opponents and critics.

But Fox News was not even listed among the sponsors of this years CPAC, the influential conservative conference, and its hosts and analysts, who usually feature prominently, were absent, Politico reported. 

A series of recent developments appear to have soured the relationship.

In court document released as part of election machine company Dominion's lawsuit against Fox News, network executives, hosts, and the Murdochs were described as having privately mocked Trump and his baseless claims that the 2020 election was fixed, even as as they promoted them on air.

Fox News faces paying a potential $1.6 billion in damages for promoting Trump's election fraud conspiracy theories in 2020. It claims its coverage was protected under the First Amendment.

As the 2024 Republican primary race begins to heat up, Fox News has given extensive air-time to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, rumored to be preparing a rival campaign to Trump's, while reportedly imposing a "soft ban" on Trump. 

Trump in a message on his Truth Social page last week took aim at the network for not backing his baseless election fraud claims, saying its audience "will again be leaving in droves - they already are."

Trump has criticised the network for disloyalty before, even when its coverage of him was at its most adulatory, but this time the animosity seems to run deeper.

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