Fox News boss Rupert Murdoch has said Donald Trump should stop focusing “on the past” in a rare public rebuke of the former US president.
On Wednesday addressing the annual meeting of stockholders for News Corp Murdoch said: “The current American political debate is profound, whether about education or welfare or economic opportunity.
“It is crucial that conservatives play an active, forceful role in that debate, but that will not happen if President Trump stays focused on the past. The past is the past, and the country is now in a contest to define the future.”
Murdoch also took aim at digital giants Facebook and Google for trying to “silence conservative voices” and manipulating the digital ad market to the detriment of publishers, advertisers and the public.
He told shareholders that a “quick Google News” revealed a pattern of selectivity or censorship.
“Both of these issues highlight the fundamental need for algorithmic transparency,” Murdoch said. “The idea falsely promoted by the platforms that algorithms are somehow objective and solely scientific is complete nonsense. Algorithms are subjective and they can be manipulated by people to kill competition and damage other people, publishers and businesses.
“What we have seen in the past few weeks about the practices at Facebook and Google surely reinforces the need for significant reform.”
His comments come weeks after Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen gave evidence to parliament in the UK, calling for urgent regulation to rein in the company’s management and reduce the harm being done to society.
Murdoch, who is also co-chair of Fox news parent Fox Corporation, has made few public comments about Trump, whose presidency was championed by most of Fox’s biggest commentators. Since his defeat Trump has continued to push unfounded conspiracy theories that the election was “stolen” by Joe Biden, who beat Trump by a margin of more than 7m votes.
Until now the 90-year-old media mogul has publicly stayed out of the fray and not commented on the election. But according to Murdoch biographer Michael Wolff in private he has called Trump “a fucking idiot”.
Trump has had a testy relationship with Fox claiming, without evidence, that its ratings had “completely collapsed” after the news channel made an early call for Biden’s victory in the last election. He has forged closer ties with Fox’s much smaller rivals OAN and Newsmax but has lost much of his online media presence after being banned by Twitter and Facebook.