Trump v DeSantis is also FOX v Newsmax: A primer on the battle

Palm Beach County-based Newsmax led by Donald Trump’s close associate Christopher Ruddy is taking aim at Ron DeSantis. This comes just as it’s clear that the Murdoch-owned media, including Fox News, The Wall Street Journal (Editorial Page specifically) and The New York Post have tilted HEAVILY toward Ron DeSantis in a potential matchup with Trump for the GOP nomination.

Newsmax and Trump

As noted earlier, and repeatedly on this site since 2017, Christopher Ruddy, the most powerful media figure in Florida, is a close personal friend and political confidante of Donald Trump.

Ruddy has used Newsmax to build a separate vertical conservative media empire to Murdoch’s, albeit one with far less penetration.

Over the weekend, Newsmax TV and host Greg Kelly labeled Governor DeSantis a “career politician” and accused him of “borrowing heavily” from Trump – basically saying he’s a cheap copycat, stealing Trump’s agenda and style. “I think DeSantis inhaled so much from Donald Trump,” said Kelly. “The agenda, the style, it is all Trump’s.”

Kelly went on to suggest that DeSantis might be better suited to a role as Trump’s running mate, pointing out that he needs to work on his debating skills. Said Kelly, “There are some things that [DeSantis] needs to clean up…he was nervous and fidgety in the [2018] debates and kind of made some odd facial gestures and just, I don’t know, needs work on that.”

The Newsmax TV host also said ““Obviously, he [DeSantis] has studied President Trump very, very carefully. You can kind of see it in this picture in Mar-a-Lago. I mean, they’re very similar, and I think DeSantis inhaled so much from Donald Trump.”

Whether Kelly is an independent voice or simply doing what Ruddy would want him to do can be discussed, but my sense is Newsmax goes all-in on Trump. This might be bad news for DeSantis as Newsmax TV is frequent outlet for Florida GOPers, including Greg Steube, Matt Gaetz, Wilton Simpson and DeSantis’ own Lieutenant Governor, Jeanette Nuñez.

The Murdoch media empire and DeSantis

In my opinion, DeSantis is the most dangerous American in high-office since either George Wallace or Joe McCarthy and DeSantis is basically a combination of the two of them ideologically. Although, in fairness as one prominent expert on autocracy and politics has cautioned to me privately, DeSantis is “something new and more dangerous” in terms of the USA and any comparison in American History, including to Trump or Wallace is probably too soft. The only true comparisons to DeSantis, this person tells me come from abroad.

David Frum, months ago nailed what I was thinking, and put it more concisely than I do. DeSantis knows EXACTLY what the FOX audience wants and won’t step out-of-line, whereas Trump’s indiscipline led him to meander in all sorts of weird directions, including on Criminal Justice Reform, which was more a desire of CNN/MSNBC viewers than those who watch FOX. The Murdoch family has found a suck up in DeSantis, similar to the way Tony Blair shamelessly behaved toward the Murdoch-owned media in the UK in the 1990’s (Murdoch’s papers had sunk previous Labour candidates and have like in the US always been far-right aligned- Blair decided to play ball with them in a most shameless manner to neutralize them – triangulation at its finest).

I would also note that Trump never dove into LGBTQ+ issues at any meaningful level, quite like DeSantis has, and that is another ode by Florida’s Governor to FOX viewers as well as Wall Street Journal Editorial Page and New York Post readers. In fact, DeSantis speeches often sound exactly like articles that popped up in the NY Post or on the WSJ Editorial Page.

Make no mistake about it – FOX and the Murdoch family have moved on from Trump even if they continue to attack his opponents – they are on team DeSantis now, seeing the opportunity to potentially establish a new GOP electoral hegemony around a man less impulsive and far more on-message than Trump was.

A battle is brewing, and my money is on the Murdoch klan – but perhaps Newsmax has more influence than I think.

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