To give credit where credit is due, Fox News has mounted a hell of a comeback since temporarily aligning itself with the NeverTrump movement in the early days of the Republican primary. We hold no grudges against the so-called “NeverTrumpers” who abandoned their ideology after it became inevitable that Trump would win the Republican nomination, and Fox News followed this pattern for the most part. They’ve still got a few on-air personalities who manage to irk us every time they get up on their “auditioning for the networks” high horse (Shep Smith, Chris Wallace), but for the most part, the network has thrived in the post-Ailes era.
All that said, the Murdochs had better watch their backs, because there is competition coming down the pike. According to BuzzFeed News, billionaire investor Peter Thiel – himself an avowed Trump supporter – and the extremely rich and powerful Mercer family – also financial and public supporters of the president – are teaming up to create a new conservative cable news network that will go head to head with the as-yet unchallenged king of the right-wing airwaves.
If the plan comes to fruition, it would be somewhat ironic; the original plan for Thiel’s network was that the Silicon Valley tech investor would team up with Roger Ailes himself to launch the venture.
Thiel, a Facebook board member who secretly funded lawsuits to bring down Gawker Media, had originally explored a plan to create the network along with Roger Ailes, the late founder of Fox News, according to a soon-to-be published book by journalist Michael Wolff. But BuzzFeed News has learned that Thiel has continued looking into fashioning a Fox News competitor even after the May 2017 death of Ailes, according to the two sources familiar with the matter.
Wolff writes that on May 12 of last year, Ailes was scheduled to fly from Palm Beach, Florida, to New York to meet with Thiel to discuss the launch of a new cable news network that would compete with Fox News, which Ailes nurtured into a conservative powerhouse before he was ousted in the summer of 2016 in a sexual harassment scandal. Both men, Wolff writes in Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House “worried that Trump could bring Trumpism down.”
Those plans were dashed, of course, after Ailes died last fall.
As BuzzFeed notes, this comes from the forthcoming book by Michael Wolff, and we’re still not sure how much of Wolff’s book is to be taken at face value. Still, the prospect of having two conservative cable news channels is an exciting one, so we’re holding out hope that there is some truth to this prospect. Fox News could use some good competition; certainly, what it’s getting from MSNBC and CNN is hardly worth its weight in salt.