Newly appointed White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon chided Fox News in an interview Friday, claiming the cable news network’s coverage of the 2016 presidential election was just as bad as that of progressive media outlets and predicting the conservative-oriented outlet would move toward a more “centrist” approach in the coming years.
In an exclusive interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Bannon — who is advising President-elect Donald Trump as he makes key appointments and fills Cabinet positions and will serve as a senior counselor in the White House — said that Fox News’s coverage of the election “got it more wrong than anybody.”
“Rupert [Murdoch] is a globalist and never understood Trump,” Bannon told THR. “To him, Trump is a radical. Now they’ll go centrist and build the network around Megyn Kelly.”
Bannon also recalled for the outlet that when former network chief Roger Ailes called to defend Megyn Kelly after the star anchor tussled with Trump during the first GOP primary debate, Bannon warned Ailes that Kelly would soon turn on him too.
Earlier this month, Radar reported that Kelly had made a last-minute addition to her just-published first memoir, Settle for More, in which she accused Ailes of sexual harassment during her time at the network.
“Roger began pushing the limits. There was a pattern to his behavior,” Kelly wrote in her memoir, alleging that Ailes began harassing her shortly after she joined the network in 2005. “I would be called into Roger’s office, he would shut the door, and over the next hour or two, he would engage in a kind of cat-and-mouse game with me — veering between obviously inappropriate sexually charged comments (e.g. about the ‘very sexy bras’ I must have and how he’d like to see me in them) and legitimate professional advice.”
Kelly also wrote that she was asked to defend Ailes when fellow anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against him earlier this summer.
“There was no way I was going to lie to protect him,” Kelly wrote.
Ailes has vehemently denied Kelly’s allegations. The former Fox News executive, who left the company after Carlson’s lawsuit, issued a statement to the Hollywood Reporter earlier this week through his attorney, Susan Estrich.
“I categorically deny the allegations Megyn Kelly makes about me,” Ailes said. “I worked tirelessly to promote and advance her career, as Megyn herself admitted to Charlie Rose. Watch that interview and then decide for yourself. My attorneys have restricted me from commenting further — so suffice it to say that no good deed goes unpunished.”
For his part, Bannon appears to have been correct when he predicted that Fox News would move in a more “centrist” direction. Rupert Murdoch’s sons and eventual successors, Lachlan and James Murdoch, have reportedly expressed interest in hiring CNN chief Jeff Zucker to take the helm at the network in a “post-Roger Ailes” world.
Read Bannon’s full interview with the Hollywood Reporter here.
Follow Daniel Nussbaum on Twitter: @dznussbaum