The columnist’s fawning story on meeting the now US President was dissected and ridiculed for several days last month, with the Conservative MP first being accused of appearing too friendly with the divisive Republican, having been photographed in a thumbs-up picture with him.
Later Gove’s soft-touch questions became the focus, along with his subject’s nonsensical replies. Then, a day later, Gove’s prose was unpicked with the journalist being skewered on social media for one particularly “excruciating” paragraph where he detailed the ethnic background of Trump’s lift attendant. He then linked him to Gone with the Wind, the 1939 movie as famous for its romantic storyline as its racial stereotypes.
The Financial Times on Thursday revealed that the News Corp boss was also present during the interview, despite Gove not mentioning it in his highly-descriptive dispatch. He did however, record that Kai Diekmann, a journalist with German newspaper Bild, was there. The FT did not name sources, but said “two people have confirmed” Murdoch was in the room.
The Times suggested that Murdoch’s presence at Trump Towers, along with Brexit proponent Gove, was a sign of the mogul’s interest in the US President, who it also alleged he was supporting through his Fox News Channel.
The paper did not say what, if any involvement, Murdoch had in securing what was the first British newspaper interview with Trump.
The FT’s revelation has done nothing to quell concerns that Trump and Murdoch's Fox News are “in bed together”.
In Gove’s interview the then President-elect described Nato as “obsolete”, the EU as a “vehicle for Germany”, attacked German Chancellor Angela Merkel and extolled Brexit.
The FT went on to detail Murdoch and Gove’s close ties.
In February 2016, when Gove announced he would champion vote Leave, Murdoch praised him on Twitter, saying: “Congratulations Michael Gove. Friends always knew his principles would overcome his personal friendships.”
Murdoch also lauded Gove - who gets £150,000 a year as a Times columnist on top of his MP’s salary - as a perfect candidate for prime minister during the Conservative party leadership contest, saying he would be “happy for Michael Gove to get it”.
Gove, he said, was the most most principled and most able candidate: “He could run a fine government.”
Days later the MP stabbed Boris Johnson in the back, when he turned on him during the leadership race to announce his own candidacy, thus ending Johnson’s chances of winning.
According to Tim Shipman’s book about the Brexit campaign, All Out War, Gove put himself forward for the Tory leadership after taking a phone call from an influential “media power broker”, the Times reported. The contest ultimately resulted in Theresa May being appointed prime minister and Gove being banished to the back benches.
Appearing at the Leveson Inquiry into press standards in 2012, Gove described Australian media tycoon Murdoch as “one of the most impressive and significant figures of the last 50 years”.