The New York Post published a striking cover editorial online on Sunday night and in print on Monday: “The Post Says: Give It Up, Mr. President—for Your Sake and the Nation’s.” The Post’s editorial board called on President Donald Trump to put aside his futile crusade to overturn the election for the sake of his legacy and encouraged him to focus on helping Republicans win the upcoming Senate runoffs in Georgia. The board also harshly criticized Trump’s enablers, calling attorney Sidney Powell a “crazy person” and deeming former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s suggestion that martial law could force an election redo as “tantamount to treason.” The op-ed, addressed to Trump, further admonished the president for trying to convince Republicans to hand him the election, charging, “In other words, you’re cheering for an undemocratic coup.”
This is a notable pivot for the Rupert Murdoch–owned Post, a tabloid that helped Trump gain fame in the 1980s, endorsed him for president in the 2016 Republican primary and the 2020 general election, and ran a controversial series about Hunter Biden right before the election using questionable information from Rudy Giuliani that even Fox News wouldn’t touch. But the Post isn’t the only conservative outlet that’s peeled off from Trump’s norm-destroying warpath. And the emphasis on retaining the Senate has been a common theme harkening back to before the election, as a way to acknowledge Trump’s failings while championing the conservative mission.
The editorial board of the Wall Street Journal—which is also owned by Murdoch’s News Corp.—has repeatedly cast aspersions on Trump’s final attempts to stay in the White House and has become increasingly skeptical of the president’s claims. Three days after Election Day, the board ran an article encouraging Trump to bring his challenges to court, but to also graciously accept his defeat if he did end up losing, characterizing a refusal to accept the results as damaging to the country and his legacy. By Nov. 23, the board expressed exasperation with Trump’s antics in a piece titled “Trump’s Campaign Runs Out of Road” and then a week later stuck up for former Attorney General Bill Barr’s finding that voter fraud would not have changed the results of the election. Most recently, the board penned an article on Dec. 20 titled, “Trump’s Bad Exit,” which accused Trump of neglecting his presidential duties in an attempt to change a foregone conclusion and adding, “his sore loser routine is beginning to grate even on millions who voted for him.” In separate opinions, members of the Journal’s editorial board, like Kimberley Strassel and William McGurn, have also encouraged Trump to turn his attention to the Georgia Senate runoff.
Fox, another Murdoch property, has similarly come to terms with Trump’s defeat, though its change of heart has been a bit more dramatic. Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo and Lou Dobbs and Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro were supportive of the president’s claims until the voting technology company Smartmatic threatened to sue outlets that suggested it had facilitated voter fraud. The Fox anchors subsequently aired segments debunking election fraud claims. Fox News pundit Geraldo Rivera also tweeted on Saturday night that, though he’s supported the president over the past four years, Trump has been behaving like “an entitled frat boy” since the election. Sean Hannity, meanwhile, has told viewers that Georgia voters have “every right to be disgusted” with the presidential election results, but that they still need to turn out for the Republican incumbents in that state. Tucker Carlson got into a spat with fellow conservatives after he criticized Powell for failing to produce evidence of voter fraud.
Outside of the Murdoch media empire, the National Review’s editorial board has run two pieces describing Trump’s postelection conduct as beyond the pale: “Trump’s Disgraceful Gambit” and “Trump’s Disgraceful Endgame.” The first, on Nov. 20, warned that Trump’s attempts to get state officials to manipulate the gears of the electoral process would “precipitate a major constitutional crisis.” The second piece, which ran 10 days later, criticized Trump’s “meritless litigation.” Both followed suit from the board’s preelection editorial, in which rather than endorse any candidate for president, it declared: “No doubts about the president should undermine the urgency of retaining Republican control of the Senate.” For establishment conservative media, the messages have coalesced around a common theme: The fight is about more than Trump, and he’d better not spoil it.