Inside Fox, staffers speculated Pirro would be fired, two sources told me, but Trump pre-empted such a move by calling Rupert Murdoch to complain about her suspension. Fox agreed to allow Pirro to come back on the air but cut her opening monologue, a venue for her most incendiary rhetoric. When Trump found out about that, he called Rupert again, a source said. A compromise was proposed: Pirro could return and deliver a shortened version of her opening statement. “Trump called Rupert, and Rupert put pressure on the executives,” a source briefed on the conversations told me. (The White House did not respond to a request for comment. A spokesperson for Fox News said the network’s management never discussed canceling Pirro’s show.)
Another risk that Lachlan faces if he intervenes in Fox’s programming is antagonizing Trump’s favorite host. According to sources, Hannity is still angry over the Murdochs’ firing of Fox News C.E.O. Roger Ailes and co-president Bill Shine, Hannity’s close friend and former producer. Hannity believes the Murdochs are out to get Trump. “Hannity told Trump last year that the Murdochs hate Trump, and Hannity is the only one holding Fox together,” a source who heard the conversation told me. Hannity has told friends that he intends to leave Fox when his contract expires in early 2021, two people who’ve spoken with him said. “Sean doesn’t feel supported,” a staffer close to him said. “He has no relationship with Lachlan. Sean thinks, Wait a second, I was hired to get ratings and I get ratings, but now people are embarrassed about me? He feels Fox spends a lot of time supporting Shepard Smith but his show makes no money. That’s annoying to him.” (Hannity did not respond to a request for comment.)
In the short term, Lachlan is likely to stay the course. His politics are much more in line with his father’s.