Ten minutes later, Bannon went after the network again, bringing the audience to its feet as he criticized Fox for not having Trump since he announced his campaign in November. He called Rupert Murdoch, the founder of News Corp. who sits at the top of the media empire.

“Murdoch, you have considered that Trump will not be president,” Bannon continued as the crowd roared with applause. «But we reckon you’re not going to have a network, because we’re going to fight you every step of the way.»

Far from random volleys, Bannon’s tirade against Fox News was the latest in what has become a heated war between the MAGA world and the longtime conservative channel. Trump himself has appeared on Fox News before, often for coverage he has deemed unfair. But the current state of affairs, which comes at the start of what promises to be a deeply contested Republican primary, is as tense as ever.

network Has not appeared the former president on his airwaves since November. The face of CPAC, American Conservative Union Chairman Matt Schlapp, himself a close Trump ally, has also not appeared on the channel since allegations surfaced in January that he sexually assaulted a campaign staffer. (Schlapp has denied any wrongdoing.) And in the halls of the CPAC conference, disdain for Fox News was not an uncommon sentiment among those gathered.

Sandra Salstrom, a harpist from Houston, said she gets all the news she needs from Bannon’s War Room show and enjoys tuning in to shows hosted by Charlie Kirk, another prominent right-wing commentator.

“Now I have nothing to do with Fox,” Salstrom said, explaining that he doesn’t have a television at home, but used to watch the network while at the gym. «Disgust me».

“I haven’t watched Fox in years,” said Andra Griffin of Manatee County, Florida, who said she stopped watching the network in 2019 and was completely “off Fox” by 2020. Instead, right-wing activists like Griffin they have turned their attention to more alternative conservative networks like Newsmax, which had a strong presence at CPAC.

Fox Radio skipped its usual booth in the media queue at CPAC this year. Fox Nation did not broadcast live or host receptions as it has in previous years. There were no primetime Fox News stars like Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, or Tucker Carlson scheduled to speak onstage, in contrast to previous years where Fox stars were in heavy rotation onstage or in the aisles.

A Fox News spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Fox News’ absence from CPAC has fueled bigger questions about the role the Murdoch-owned network is playing in the Republican primary. Trump’s likely rival in 2024, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, has been Featured on all Murdoch-owned entities while promoting his recently published memoir. Anti-Woke activist Vivek Ramaswamy launched his presidential campaign with an appearance on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show. And former UN ambassador Nikki Haley has appeared repeatedly on the network, with her launch announcement covered live on television.

This all comes as Fox is facing a defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems, which is seeking $1.6 billion in damages for the network’s role in covering conspiracies surrounding the 2020 election. The network level privately cast doubt on Trump’s claims that the election was stolen, even as voices on the air backed Trump on the false narrative.

While Trump himself has not been interviewed on Fox News airwaves of late: traffic light reported he is facing a «soft ban» from the network – he continues to receive coverage and hosts reference his campaign.

For his part, Trump has intensified his attacks on the longtime conservative TV channel, sharing multiple posts on his Truth Social platform in recent days criticizing the channel and its owner, Rupert Murdoch. “Too many incompetent RINOS on FoxNews!” Trump posted on Thursday. A day earlier, Trump called Murdoch and other Fox executives a «group of MAGA Hating Globalist RINOS» who should «get out of the news business as soon as possible.»

With Fox stars out of the picture, CPAC attendees flocked to popular right-wing alternatives like Bannon’s War Room, which hosted his podcast live, along with Newsmax, OAN, the Right Side Broadcasting Network and others.

William Marks, a software developer and manager from southern Maryland, said he still watches Fox News and Newsmax, but believes the former is «moving further away from the conservative landscape,» a fault not of the anchors but of «ownership.» . he said.

Even with such defections, Fox News remains the king of cable news and prime-time ratings. The top ten most watched cable news shows are all on Fox News, with Tucker Carlson and the Five having over 3 million viewers. according to AdWeek. And for conservative stars, Fox News’ late-night shows remain the No. 1 place to get attention for their cause.

“I love being back on Fox News and I have nothing bad to say about it,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican who appears frequently on Fox News and on Steve Bannon’s War Room podcast.