HomePoliticsHow Rupert Murdoch Quietly Helped Mike Johnson Survive Marjorie Taylor Greene's Impeachment...

How Rupert Murdoch Quietly Helped Mike Johnson Survive Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Impeachment Attempt

Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the “Reliable Sources” newsletter. Subscribe here for the daily summary of the changing media landscape.

Rupert Murdoch may not bow to the cameras, but he quietly demonstrated the power he still wields within the Republican Party.

The right-wing media mogul’s empire — which also includes Fox News, The Wall Street Journal and the New York Post — not-so-subtly backed Mike Johnson when Marjorie Taylor Greene fiercely attacked the Speaker of the House for his decision to pass a Ukraine aid package approve. Murdoch’s powerful collection of media not only expressed support for Johnson, but also leveled scathing attacks on Greene, with the Post going so far as to portray her as “MOSCOW MARJORIE” on its cover.

But Murdoch was very much an anomaly in the right-wing media universe. While his collection of media supported Johnson, the hardline MAGA Media attacked him for weeks. These media outlets and personalities – including Tucker Carlson, Steve Bannon, Charlie Kirk, Breitbart, The Gateway Pundit and others – portrayed Johnson to their audiences as a spineless Republican who had betrayed the conservative movement and instead did the bidding of the Democratic Party.

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However, the barrage of missiles fired straight at Johnson failed to deliver a fatal blow to the Speaker of the House of Representatives on Wednesday, with the House quickly voting to override her resolution to oust Johnson from his leadership post. The end of the embarrassing debacle came after her failure to win the support of Donald Trump and other Republican allies, coupled with Democrats’ support for Johnson.

On Fox News, the vote was so dismissed that the network offered only cursory coverage while members voted in real time. CNN and MSNBC, on the other hand, offered much more robust live coverage.

Fox News did not break into the regularly scheduled episode of “The Five” to go to the House chamber to broadcast the vote in full, as CNN and MSNBC did.  -Ted Shaffrey/AP

Fox News did not break into the regularly scheduled episode of “The Five” to go to the House chamber to broadcast the vote in full, as CNN and MSNBC did. -Ted Shaffrey/AP

However, the episode was instructive in examining the centers of power within the Republican Party, underscoring the enormous influence Murdoch still wields over the party. Although Murdoch’s power has waned in recent years, his empire continues to serve as the source of gravity in the right-wing media universe. Without Murdoch Media joining the chorus and denouncing Johnson, Greene’s efforts failed to gain enough momentum to actually threaten Johnson’s leadership.

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The course of events could have been very different if Murdoch had chosen to go the other way. If Murdoch had allowed or instructed Fox News to pour gasoline on its criticism of Johnson, the speaker would have had a much bigger fire on his hands. Instead of being limited to Carlson’s unhinged vlogs and Bannon’s podcast rants, it would have spread into the mainstream of the Republican Party and likely put his leadership in serious jeopardy. Furthermore, if Fox News had stepped up the attacks, it would have emboldened other Republicans to join the effort.

Most importantly, this could have had a very good impact on how Trump ultimately responded to the situation. Instead of voicing support for Johnson, it’s not hard to see a world where Trump, under the influence of Fox News, has attacked the speaker of the House of Representatives and given the green light to other Republicans to do the same to do.

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But none of that ever happened. Instead, Murdoch – invisible – helped Johnson escape what could have been a dire situation. The 93-year-old billionaire was perhaps Johnson’s most important, but least talked about, ally.

Elsewhere in the right-wing media, Johnson was portrayed as a defector. And without Murdoch Media acting as an effective Iron Dome around Johnson and preventing the ugly attacks from penetrating the heart of the Republican Party, he almost certainly would have faced a serious threat to his power.

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