By most standards, Marco Rubio underperformed on Super Tuesday by only winning Minnesota and barely missing out on taking the battleground state of Virginia. In the immediate aftermath, he spoke with Fox News twice, and both anchors (including Megyn Kelly) were not kind. Kelly had previously ripped Rubio in a debate over immigration, but then she switched approaches and told him he was “smooth.” Suddenly, she was all about Rubio, but now, it seems that Fox News, which had supported Rubio, has changed its mind.
New York magazine’s Daily Intelligencer reveals that Fox News is not only disappointed in Rubio’s primary performances, but Roger Ailes is still sore that folks found out about a 2013 meeting where Rubio talked him into supporting the “Gang of 8” immigration-reform bill. Ailes was “appalled” when folks learned about this sitdown, and Sean Hannity reportedly feels the same way about being named in the NYT article. So, Rubio’s lackluster primary results are giving Ailes a reason for the untimely boot:
[T]his alliance now seems to be over. According to three Fox sources, Fox chief Roger Ailes has told people he’s lost confidence in Rubio’s ability to win. “We’re finished with Rubio,” Ailes recently told a Fox host. “We can’t do the Rubio thing anymore.”
I used the word “untimely” to describe this severing of ties for one big reason. The Fox News debate is Thursday evening, and Rubio has to show up — for what could already be an explosive showdown — immediately after the big breakup. He’s either gonna fight like hell or have a full-on meltdown, but this is terrible, cruel timing. To make matters even more uncomfortable, Rupert Murdoch has been ambiguously tweeting. Late last week, he tweeted that Rubio (or Trump or Kasich) could win a general election.
Murdoch then tweeted about Trump on Wednesday, and it sounded like a big hint. Murdoch didn’t sing Trump’s praises, but he said the GOP should rally around him if he gets the nomination.
New York magazine ends their piece by saying Ailes wants to back a new candidate, and that’s a difficult decision to make. Trump largely burned bridges after threatening Kelly before trolling her for months and tweeting “bimbo” in her direction. Trump subsequently skipped the last debate (which could have cost him Iowa) because he can’t stand the “third rate” Kelly, and of course, he caused so much more trouble for her. Would Fox News back Trump now? Surely not. They’ll probably go with Ted Cruz, and then Bill O’Reilly will lose his everloving mind.
NOTE: Michael Clemente (Executive Vice President of News at FOX News) has provided this statement in response to Gabriel Sherman’s New York magazine article:
“Consistent with the golden standard of Shermanonymous’ ‘reporting’ on FOX News and Roger Ailes, there is no credence to this narrative or the many other works of fiction he’s repeatedly been proven wrong on. Lacking any on-the-record sources, and desperate for attention, his stories are full of made-up quotes, but New York magazine doesn’t seem to care about his overwhelming lack of credibility, journalistic integrity and deeply partisan agenda.”