Despite initially crowning Ron DeSantis as the next Republican presidential nominee, Fox News emperor Rupert Murdoch has started to sour on the Florida governor. In fact, he may have already moved on to someone new.
In a weird twist, Murdoch reportedly backs Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin for 2024, according to a New York Times report published Wednesday. Youngkin, meanwhile, has publicly said he has no intention of running.
When DeSantis first unveiled his campaign two months ago, Fox News led the charge in painting him as the successor to Donald Trump. It would make sense why Fox News had gone off Trump, considering that spreading his lies about the 2020 election has already cost them nearly $800 million in lawsuits—with more on the way.
But DeSantis hasn’t really taken off. Although he’s technically the runner-up to Trump, the two candidates are miles apart in terms of actual poll numbers. Murdoch has begun to voice doubts in private conversations that DeSantis can pull off a win, Rolling Stone reported Tuesday.
Coverage of DeSantis on Fox News and in the newspapers that Murdoch owns has shifted. Where there were once softball questions, now there is Maria Bartiromo straight up asking DeSantis, “What’s going on with your campaign?”
“They are transactional and can smell a loser a mile away,” a Fox insider anonymously told Rolling Stone, referring to the Murdoch family and other Fox executives.
Youngkin, however, is perhaps exactly what people like Murdoch hoped DeSantis would be.
Both men are just as conservative as Trump. In some ways, they’re even further right. But where DeSantis is awkward and robotic, Youngkin won the gubernatorial race in a Democratic leaning state. He is less cringey and flagrant in his embrace of the right-wing agenda, such as fighting “wokeness” and opposing abortion and LGBTQ rights. But he’s still dangerous.
But Youngkin said in April that he is “wholly focused on the Commonwealth of Virginia.” So the Murdochs may be stuck with DeSantis after all.