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William Barr told Rupert Murdoch 'Muzzle' Andrew Napolitano

(Win McNamee, Getty Images)

Attorney General William Barr told billionaire Rupert Murdoch to “muzzle” Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano for criticizing President Donald Trump, according to CNN host Brian Stelter in his new book Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth.

The Guardian reports that back in October 2019, Barr met with Murdoch at the his New York estate to discuss “media consolidation and criminal justice reform” and, according to Stelter, also talk about the Napolitano. Around this time, the former judge had been very critical of Trump for pressuring Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate his presidential rival former vice president Joe Biden, writing Trump’s actions had been “both criminal and impeachable behavior.”

According to the Guardian, Stelter’s book alleges Trump was so “incensed” by Napolitano’s critique that he wanted Murdoch to “muzzle” the former judge.

Stelter reportedly writes in his upcoming book that Trump “implored Barr to send Rupert a message in person … about ‘muzzling the judge’. [Trump] wanted the nation’s top law enforcement official to convey just how atrocious Napolitano’s legal analysis had been.”

The Guardian adds:

Though Barr’s words to Murdoch “carried a lot of weight”, Stelter writes, “no one was explicitly told to take Napolitano off the air”. Instead, Stelter reports, Napolitano found digital resources allocated elsewhere, saw a slot on a daytime show disappear, and was not included in coverage of the impeachment process.

In Stelter’s telling, Napolitano thought he was being kept off air by “25-year-old producers” who didn’t think viewers could handle his analysis. Stelter, however, says an unnamed “twentysomething staffer” confirmed that one host, Maria Bartiromo, would only book Napolitano to discuss non-Trump topics, because he would upset Bartiromo too much if he criticised the president.

The CNN host’s new book is expected to drop this Tuesday and will highlight the “urgent and untold story of the collusion between Fox News and Donald Trump.”

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