Rupert Murdoch was in the room when Donald Trump gave his first post-election foreign newspaper interview in the UK to the Times and former government minister Michael Gove.
It is unclear whether the media mogul was present throughout the interview, held in Trump Tower in New York, or simply introduced the Times columnist to the president, although the Financial Times said Murdoch sat through the whole interview.
Murdoch, whose News Corp owns the Times, is believed to have orchestrated the meeting between the former Conservative minister and the president but details of his presence emerged weeks after the hour-long meeting.
The interview confirmed the Murdoch empire as Trumpâs favourite media outlet; he has granted regular access to Sean Hannity of Fox News, also owned by Murdochâs 21st Century Fox.
One insider at News Corp said Murdoch would be unlikely to have sat quietly throughout the interview and could just have introduced them at the beginning. He appeared in none of the extensive pictures taken of the meeting in the Times.
Gove shared the interview with Bildâs Kai Diekmann, who sits on the board of directors set up to guarantee the independence of the Times when Murdoch bought the paper. Unlike Gove, Diekmann refused to pose thumbs up alongside the president in front of a framed copy of Playboy.
The interview, in which Gove not only scooped all other British newspapers but also the prime minister and cabinet team in meeting the new president, covered several contentious issues of foreign policy, including trade and Brexit.
A video clip of the interview shows Gove asking the president if the UK is now âat the front of the queueâ for a US trade deal.
Trump also condemns the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, for her decision to admit 1 million refugees, calling it a âvery catastrophic mistakeâ before describing refugees as âillegalsâ.
Further evidence of Trumpâs opinion of the mainstream media is given when he tells Gove that he intends to keep tweeting as @realdonaltrump as a way of bypassing journalists and going straight to â¦ Fox News.
âThe tweeting, I thought Iâd do less of it, but Iâm covered so dishonestly by the press â so dishonestly â that I can put out Twitter â and itâs not 140, itâs now 280 â I can go bing bing bing â¦ and they put it on and as soon as I tweet it out â this morning on television, Fox â âDonald Trump, we have breaking newsâ.â
Murdoch has long been a supporter of the former justice secretary. He offered public and private support throughout Goveâs Conservative leadership bid and a Â£150,000-a-year job at the Times on top of his salary as an MP soon after he was defeated.
The media boss is also known to admire Trump. Ivanka Trump, the presidentâs daughter, was a trustee for the patriarchâs two youngest daughters until December.
News Corp declined to comment.