Biden AdministrationUkraine InvasionInflationEnergyCybersecurity

Trump offers to help turn old enemy CNN into a ‘gold mine’, while tearing into his old favorite Fox News

September 5, 2022, 4:10 PM UTC
U.S. President Donald Trump argues with CNN reporter Jim Acosta
Donald Trump famously argued with CNN reporter Jim Acosta during his term in office
Al Drago—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Donald Trump warned Fox News was getting soft and could be overtaken on the right by an ascendent CNN, the left-leaning network news channel distrusted by many conservative voters.

The ex-President’s savvy manipulation of the media has been a hallmark of his political strategy ever since his surprise election in 2016, helping him maintain a stranglehold over the Republican Party even after the January 6th Capitol riots. 

Now he may be playing Fox News off against CNN, vocally encouraging the latter’s new centrist editorial direction, if only to badger the former into being a more reliable cheerleader of his.

“Fox News is really pushing the Democrats and the Democrat agenda. Gets worse every day,” he posted to his Twitter clone, Truth Social. “If ‘low ratings’ CNN ever went conservative, they would be an absolute gold mine, and I would help them to do so!”

Fox News played a critical role in Trump’s term in office, with popular opinion leaders like Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham helping explain his policies to millions of their viewers across America every night.

Yet Trump began to break away from Rupert Murdoch’s media empire and court other right-wing outlets like Newsmax and One America News Network after Fox sparked a political earthquake by predicting Joe Biden had flipped the battleground state of Arizona. 

New CNN direction post-takeover

In the ensuing days and weeks, Trump hoped to spread his message the November 2020 vote was a fraud and Democrats had stolen the election by enlisting the help of the alternative right channels all too willing to risk defamation lawsuits to help his cause.

Despite a brief brushfire of interest in the immediate aftermath, the two competitors have not been able to make meaningful inroads into Fox News’ viewership. Part of the problem is their inability to reach viewers, as cable operators have dropped them from their bundles. OAN for example, lost its distribution deal first with DirecTV earlier this year and now more recently with Verizon.

With neither Newsmax nor OAN now realistically capable of threatening Fox’s dominance among conservative voters, Trump may be resorting to the use of promoting CNN in order to gain leverage against the Murdoch outlet. 

During the Trump presidency, CNN lost many conservative viewers angered by its perceived liberal bias and constant criticism of Trump by top news hosts like Jim Acosta. 

This has prompted new CNN president Chris Licht, installed after Discovery agreed to acquire CNN parent Warner Media, to institute a more politically neutral slant, angering many of its long-term viewers of late.

Trump meanwhile has been seeking to squash rival upstarts like Florida governor Ron DeSantis and his supporter Elon Musk, speaking out against EVs during a weekend speech in Pennsylvania’s coal-mining country not far from President Joe Biden’s hometown of Scranton.

Sign up for the Fortune Features email list so you don’t miss our biggest features, exclusive interviews, and investigations.