Unorthodox Trump smashes Fox News influence over rightwing media

His ability to break the networks grip over conservative punditry has sparked breathless headlines across the web and rewritten the media landscape

Donald Trump would be the first to tell you hes a man of many accomplishments. Somewhere down that tremendous list is one he probably didnt predict: breaking the grip of Fox News over conservative media and scattering talking heads, bloggers and politicians across various tribes of pro- and anti-Trump thinking.

Trumps feud with Fox over the anchor Megyn Kelly, whose incisive questions have aggravated the billionaire for months, reached a new low on Wednesday when he announced he would skip the networks Thursday night debate. While Fox News kingpin Roger Ailes could once use his network to influence conservative voters and, arguably, shape the Republican party, Trump has baffled him and divided his audience.

The fractures are especially obvious online, where anyone can find kinship in the comments section or on a blog. In the past 24 hours, for instance, the rightwing site Breitbart, founded by a man committed to the destruction of the old media guard, has churned out posts critical of Fox News.

The headlines blare in all caps: Fox News debate chief has daughter working for Rubio; How Trump beat Roger Ailes at his own game; The anti-Trump network: Fox News money flows into open border group.

The Blaze stakes out the opposite camp. There are invitations to read a letter from Ted Cruz to Trump, to watch Bill OReilly take on Trump, to hear how Glenn Beck goes nuclear on bully Donald Trump, and to read the words sexist Twitter trolls hurled at Megyn Kelly.

Donald Trump calls Fox News presenter Megyn Kelly a lightweight

Somewhere in the middle are sites like The Daily Caller, which has mostly reposted various opinions: theres Foxs Kelly and Krauthammer; support for Trump from Pat Buchanan, a conservative populist who won Iowa in 1996; and news about a veterans group that is leery of Trumps donations.

Or you can look at a kinkajou that fell asleep on a 99-year-old in Florida.

Matt Drudge, the conservative dungeon master behind the Drudge Report, has aggregated a menagerie from all sides: OReilly begs: You owe me milkshakes; Jeb blew through his warchest, Huckabee calls Cruz a flip flopper. Theres also a woman who lives as a cat, robot lettuce farmers and consumers of frozen vegetables [who] oppose abortions.

The spat between Trump and Ailes reflects a larger war for control of the Republican party that has been playing out for months, if not years, and upended the order of conservative politics. Hoary magazines are reduced to ad hominem editions. Lifelong standard bearers of the party, such as former speaker of the House John Boehner, have been ousted by irascible newcomers to Washington. The hate felt for one candidate and the ghosts of another has pushed even establishment leaders toward the mercurial, formerly liberal Trump.

Ailes and Fox News, mocked for telling an established version of the news usually white, older and ideological are now taking the journalistic high ground by supporting Megyn Kelly and her tough, pertinent questions. Similarly, liberal-leaning MSNBC has resisted the Democratic partys attempt to limit debates.

But the rise of more varied and radical voices online and in the polls suggests that the cable news giants, like the leaders of both parties, are losing some influence over the masses they rely on.

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