A Royal Time for Donald Trump
And Rupert Murdoch
"Anyone for tea and Trump-ets?" the New York Post inquired Tuesday. For Rupert Murdoch, the media baron whose tabloid devoted nine adoring pages to Donald Trump’s trip to the United Kingdom, the answer was an emphatic yes.
 
To some, a Trump overseas trip is a ritual spectacle of presidential gaffes, diplomatic incidents, bungled negotiations, and romps with dictators and despots.

Not to disappoint, Trump embraced the Ugly American role from the start of his trip to England, branding London Mayor Sadiq Khan a "stone cold loser” even before Air Force One touched ground. As the Queen readied Buckingham Palace for his arrival, Trump was glued to Twitter, misspelling Khan’s name and somehow managing to work Bill de Blasio into his missives about the British politician. “Kahn reminds me very much of our dumb and incompetent Mayor of NYC, de Blasio, who has also done a terrible job — only half his height,” wrote the President of the United States.
 
"This trip is the perfect illustration of a Trump trip,” observed Sam Stein of the Daily Beast. “Call the mayor of the host city a 'loser,' endorse a divisive policy initiative in the host country, call a famous actress a 'psycho' on Twitter at 1:30 in the morning before leaving the next day to visit your golf course." (The psycho was Bette Midler).
 
Yet to Murdoch's tabloids, the bad Donald Trump hardly exists anymore. In the Post , there was barely a hint of unpleasantness in most of the seven stories and 13 photos devoted to his trip (Kahn’s name appeared in the second to last paragraph of the main story). Its wood (“Don’ton Abbey”) kicked off pages of stories and photos casting Trump in a Kennedy-esque light, featuring a First Lady who “wowed the crowd across The Pond,” and pictures of the president in state dinner attire, posing with British luminaries, and paying tribute to fallen soldiers of World War II.
 
Just for some perspective, the front page headline of the New York Times that day read “Trump Spends A Royal Day in Petty Feuds.”
 
“The juxtaposition of high pageantry and low name-calling,” Mark Landler and Maggie Haberman wrote, “captured yet again the odd swath that this president cuts on the world stage: impulsive and erratic, delighted by a lavish welcome but preoccupied by petty feuds or events back home.”
 
As with the Post in New York, the coverage in Murdoch’s British tabloid The Sun was out of sync with that of its competitors. “SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP,” blared a Sun headline . “Donald Trump says ‘I am really loved in the UK’ despite protests.” The paper focused its ire on the opposition leader's embarrassment at having to stand behind Trump just hours after insulting him, while lauding Trump’s beef and ice cream dinner for Prince Charles and Camila.
It wasn’t always like this
The kid gloves coverage says a lot about the state of the Trump-Murdoch relationship. As 2020 grows closer, the mogul is all-in for the president, even though it wasn't always so.

'He's a [expletive] idiot," Murdoch often said of Trump back in the campaign days, according to Jonathan Mahler and Jim Rutenberg’s acclaimed deep-dive into the media baron’s empire.
 
Recall that Murdoch and Fox sided with Megan Kelly during her fight with Trump over Kelly's debate questions, and that during the campaign Murdoch allowed the Wall Street Journal editorial board to tee off on the Republican candidate, as when they came to the defense of former Speaker Ryan when he dared oppose the likely nominee.
 
The Post pronounced Trump “toast” after he insulted the late John McCain; ran nude photos of the future first lady, and even refused to endorse Trump in the general election, with a cover shot of a voter holding her nose. He faced tough coverage over his failure to condemn white nationalism in Charlottesville (“They Weren’t All Nazi’s”); constant berating of the mainstream press , and musical chairs in his administration .
 
But those days are long gone. The livelihoods of Murdoch and Trump have grown so tightly intertwined over the past three years that it’s hard to know who needs the other more. Where would Trump be without Fox’s audience? Where would Fox be without Trump’s audience? The question of whom their followers are more loyal to is one that neither can afford to test.
 
Now Trump is in re-election mode, and Murdoch has his back. The Journal editorial board is still permitted to take shots at the president (“After Trump reneged on Mexico, why should we trust him?” read a recent editorial headline). But the Post and Fox News, the two outlets that are the true barometers of Murdoch’s leanings, are as pro-Trump as ever.
 
The Murdoch dynasty won't last forever, but it seems unlikely to undergo any major shifts before votes are cast in 2020. Murdoch has wanted true, meaningful access to a U.S. president all his life. Now that he has it, he seems intent on keeping it. 
Here and There
Nausicaa Renner becomes senior politics editor at The Intercept Alex Weprin  joins The Hollywood Reporter and will author the daily Today in Entertainment newsletter… Blake Montgomery, formerly of Buzzfeed joins The Daily Beast to cover tech… Sarah Anders  becomes communications director for State Senator Andrew Gounardes.  
Quotable
"Small in spirit, in valor, in dignity, in statecraft, this American president who knows nothing of history and cares still less and now bestrides Europe with his family in tow like some tin-pot dictator with a terrified entourage.

– Columnist Roger Cohen, in today’s NY Times 

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