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2 Murdoch-owned papers release harsh editorials about Donald Trump

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

The editorial boards of The Wall Street Journal and the New York Post have issued harsh critiques of former President Donald Trump following the January 6 committee's final hearing of the summer. The Post said the former president is unworthy to lead the country again. The Journal called the facts sobering and called out Trump for his inflammatory tweets. These editorials both published in major newspapers owned by Rupert Murdoch. Joining us now to discuss is Jonah Goldberg. He's a conservative columnist and the editor in chief and co-founder of The Dispatch. Good morning, Jonah.

JONAH GOLDBERG: Good morning. It's great to be here.

FADEL: Thank you for being here. So do you think these editorials - they were released an hour apart from one another on Friday - are they a direct reflection of Murdoch's personal opinions?

GOLDBERG: It's hard to know. I mean, Murdoch, first of all, is 91 years old. But there's - and Lachlan, you know, his son, is driving things quite a bit, according to most accounts. That said, there's lots of reporting and lots of reason to believe that they're just tired of Donald Trump. They think they've gotten out of him the best that they can get out of him. And there are other, more exciting prospects in the GOP field for them to get behind. And so I think that this sort of lends credence to that theory, but it's - some of it is just sort of, you know, criminology.

FADEL: Will these very critical editorials resonate with conservative voters?

GOLDBERG: I think not. I mean, look, I have the footprints all over my back as someone who used to be considered sort of part of the conservative establishment, who overread the ability of institutions like National Review, where I was at the time, and Fox News, like I was at the time, to change voter opinions about Donald Trump. That said, I think this should be more viewed as sort of like a - you know, what they call in the business world a B2B play. This is a very important thing for donors, for other Republican politicians, for other media outlets to understand there's going to be oxygen for you not to follow Trump's script on every single thing going down the road.

This is a signal that people like Ron DeSantis will get a fair hearing at Fox News and Tom Cotton and others - that everyone is not going to fall in line for the president who lost the last election and is still lying about it. At the very least, it is going to be a real contest to see who's the standard bearer in 2024.

FADEL: But are we seeing the same criticism of Trump from Fox News, also owned by Rupert Murdoch?

GOLDBERG: Less so. I mean, the opinion side stuff - you know, the prime-time stuff, Tucker and Laura and Hannity - still has that Dear Leader vibe about Donald Trump. There's still a lot of pandering to Trump's biggest fans on the opinion side. But on the news side, like my friend Bret Baier's "Special Report" and the daytime news programming, that is much more evenhanded about - certainly about the January 6 hearings. And even on Friday, they didn't cover a Trump rally on "Fox News Live." They ran an interview with Ron DeSantis, which is a bit of a message as well.

FADEL: So a sign that maybe conservative media is stepping away from Trump ahead of 2024?

GOLDBERG: I think the more reputable the conservative media, the more it's stepping away. You saw Washington Examiner run a similar editorial a couple weeks ago. But the part of the problem with the conservative media these days is that, with the exception of the 800-pound gorilla that is Fox, the ability to sway voters and change the debate among mainstream conservative media is more limited than many in mainstream conservative media would like. And a lot of people, the sort of do-your-own-research crowd, are just simply looking for the permission structure they need to believe anything that Trump says. And that still makes him a formidable factor in the primaries.

FADEL: Jonah Goldberg, political commentator, editor in chief and co-founder of The Dispatch, thank you so much for being on the program.

GOLDBERG: It's great to be here. Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.