The most intriguing part about the New York Post’s endorsement of Donald Trump might be what it says about the relationship between the candidate and Rupert Murdoch.
The Post, of course, is owned by Murdoch, once a vocal critic of Trump’s presidential campaign. The tabloid’s endorsement comes amid a thaw in tensions between Trump and Murdoch’s media empire.
Trump and Murdoch have had several meetings and conversations in recent months, according to sources close to both men. Those discussions were brokered by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, the owner and publisher of the New York Observer, the sources said.
Kushner, who helped write Trump’s speech at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference last month, encouraged Murdoch to have a dialogue with the Republican frontrunner.
Over the course of these discussions, Murdoch has apparently come to see Trump not only as a serious candidate with potential, but also as the GOP’s inevitable nominee, the sources told CNNMoney.
It’s a far cry from where their relationship stood last summer. At that point in the campaign, Murdoch said that Trump was “embarrassing his friends” and “the whole country.”
After Trump made harsh comments about John McCain’s service in the Vietnam War, the Post ran a cover depicting Trump on a raft with an encircling shark lurking behind. “Don Voyage!” blared the headline. In its endorsement on Thursday, the Post’s editorial board said Trump “has the potential — the skills, the know-how, the values — to live up to his campaign slogan: to make America great again.”
“It’s a big journey from ‘Don Voyage’ to endorsing,” one of the sources told CNNMoney.
Murdoch’s evolution is discernible through his Twitter feed, which has gone dormant since his marriage last month. He said in July that Trump was “wrong” with his inflammatory comments about Mexican immigrants and crime. In November, Murdoch defended Ben Carson, who Trump had likened to a child molester.
“Trump finally loses it,” Murdoch tweeted at the time.
But Murdoch softened his tone after the new year. He said in January that “many influential Republicans” were beginning to recognize the inevitability of a Trump nomination. And Murdoch, a conservative power broker, cautioned the GOP last month against opposing Trump.
“If he becomes inevitable party would be mad not to unify,” he tweeted.
When is Donald Trump going to stop embarrassing his friends, let
alone the whole country?
— Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch) July 19, 2015
Trump has clearly been chafed by the criticism from Murdoch and his media properties.
“Murdoch’s been very bad to me,” Trump told New York Magazine in a story published earlier this month.
The Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal has especially infuriated Trump.
In February, Trump trashed a poll commissioned by the Journal as a “Rupert Murdoch hit.” (Murdoch responded by telling Trump in a tweet to “calm down.”) Trump has also repeatedly gone after the paper’s editorial board, which has been highly critical of his campaign.
“The good news is, nobody cares what they say in their editorials anymore, especially me!” Trump tweeted last month.
On Thursday, hours before the Post’s endorsement appeared online, the Journal published an editorial authored by Trump.
Trump’s on-again-off-again feud with Fox News and the channel’s star anchor Megyn Kelly appears to have reached detente, too. Kelly sat down with Trump earlier this week to “clear the air.” After that face-to-face meeting, Trump had lunch with Fox News chief Roger Ailes. Trump may even appear on a Kelly special next month.
The Post was not exactly full-throated in its endorsement, however. The tabloid’s editorial board even echoed some of Murdoch’s concerns, calling Trump “thin-skinned” and questioning some of his proposals, including on immigration.
The endorsement said Trump’s signature policy — to build a wall on the United States-Mexico border — “is far too simplistic” and his language “has too often been amateurish, divisive — and downright coarse.”
“But what else to expect from someone who’s never been a professional politician and reflects common-man passions?” the editorial read.
In a statement provided to CNNMoney, Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks said, “Mr. Trump is proud to receive the endorsement and has always had great respect for Mr. Ailes and Mr. Murdoch.”
Hicks did not respond to an inquiry about the recent dialogue between Trump and Murdoch. A spokesman for Murdoch’s company, News Corp, declined to comment.