Trump Praises Murdoch Family, Compliments Disney Deal: "Is He the Greatest, Though, or What?"

Mark Wilson/Getty Images; Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

"He sold only what he didn't want," Trump said of Rupert Murdoch's deal. "He sold it to a group that doesn't like Trump as much. That's the only problem."

President Donald Trump used a signing ceremony for a trade deal with China to compliment Rupert Murdoch, his deal-making prowess and the entire Murdoch family.

The president, who never has the media industry far from his mind, shouted out Murdoch, who was not in attendance at the White House event, on Wednesday when thanking the attendees.

"Where's Rupert?" Trump asked from the podium. "Is Rupert not here? I can't believe Rupert's not here. Is he the greatest, though, or what?"

Trump then complimented Murdoch on his family's $71.2 billion sale of the Fox film and TV studio — among other assets — to Disney, which closed in 2019.

"He was going to get $40 billion for this thing," the president said. "He sold only what he didn't want. He sold it to a group that doesn't like Trump as much. That's the only problem. But, he was going to get $40 billion and he said, 'I don't know. They keep bidding this thing up.' They end up paying, what, $75 billion? And, he kept the best stuff."

Trump also praised Murdoch's son, Fox Corporation CEO Lachlan Murdoch. "Rupert's doing great," he said. "That whole family is just a great family."

While Murdoch was not one of the attendees, Fox Business Network host Lou Dobbs had a front-row seat at the event. According to a White House pool report, several key administration aides — including Jared Kushner and chief economic advisor Larry Kudlow — "each made their way over to Dobbs at one point to shake hands and chat."

Trump described Dobbs as "a man who always liked me, because he is smart, so smart." 

The president said he watches Dobbs' primetime show "all the time." He said Dobbs "has a very important show, actually, tremendous audience and everybody in this room watches."