Fox News Pummels Trump For Saying He'll Skip Their Debate

Fox News slammed Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump after he announced he would not participate in the January 28 Republican presidential primary debate co-sponsored by Fox News because of his on-going feud with moderator Megyn Kelly.

Donald Trump Announces He Won't Participate In Fox News Debate

Trump Announced His Refusal To Take Part In Fox News Debate. On January 26, Donald Trump's campaign told reporters that he would not be participating in the January 28 Republican primary debate in Iowa out of anger with debate co-sponsor Fox News. Trump told reporters that he was irritated that “Fox News planned to leave in place as a moderator the anchor Megyn Kelly, whose questioning of Trump at a debate last August angered him.” From Reuters:

U.S. Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump withdrew on Tuesday from a debate with party rivals this week out of anger at host Fox News (FOXA.O), leaving the last encounter before Iowa's pivotal nominating contest without the front-runner.

Trump's campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, told reporters after a combative news conference held by the candidate that Trump would definitely not be participating in the debate scheduled for Thursday in Des Moines, Iowa, and co-hosted by Google (GOOGL.O).

During the news conference before he addressed a large crowd in Marshalltown, Iowa, Trump expressed irritation that Fox News planned to leave in place as a moderator the anchor Megyn Kelly, whose questioning of Trump at a debate last August angered him.

He also expressed displeasure at a Fox News statement on Monday night saying Trump would have to learn sooner or later that “he doesn't get to pick the journalists” and that “we're very surprised he's willing to show that much fear about being questioned by Megyn Kelly.”


Trump has been engaged in a public spat with Fox News since the network hosted the first debate and Kelly asked Trump about his treatment of woman, prompting a stream of insults from the candidate. [Reuters, 1/27/16]

Fox News Slams Trump For Trying To “Control The Media” By Pulling Out Of Debate

Megyn Kelly: Trump “Doesn't Get To Control The Media.” On the January 26 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File, Megyn Kelly responded directly to Trump's withdrawal from the Fox News Republican debate, saying “he doesn't get to control the media, and while he's made his position clear about me after that first debate, Roger Ailes made his position clear, too”:

MEGYN KELLY (HOST): And just to remove the doubt, at least for now, Mr. Trump came out with his campaign statement just moments ago and says that he will not be attending.


BRIT HUME: I think this is partly about you that's pretty clear. Trump has never gotten over that first question you asked him, which I know, to me at least, and I think to any other reasonable journalist was a completely fair and relevant question, but he never seems to have been able to get past that. And I think it's partly about the news cycle. Certainly, this is all anybody's talking about tonight.


KELLY: What's interesting is here is Trump is not used to not controlling things as the chief executive of a large organization. But the truth is, he doesn't get to control the media, and while he's made his position clear about me after that first debate, Roger Ailes made his position clear too. And you know when Trump started it up again this past Saturday and resumed it again and again and again, he was told repeatedly our debate team is settled and then came that Instagram video he put out today, followed by the company's statements. [Fox News, The Kelly File1/26/16]

Fox's Charles Krauthammer: Trump Is Just Trying To Be “The Center Of Attention, All The Time.” On the January 26 edition of Special Report, Fox contributor Charles Krauthammer slammed Trump's “calculated” maneuver as just about “being the center of attention” and said that he has “concentrate[d] all the attention, all the discussion between now” and the debate on “whether he is going to show up or not.” Krauthammer suggested that Trump is treating the media coverage of the presidential primaries as a “reality TV show”:

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: Well I think the prize as Trump defines it, always is being the center of attention. This, whether calculated or not, and I think it most likely is, is going to concentrate all the attention, all the discussion, between now and the time you go on the air Thursday at 9:00 on whether he is going to show up or not. So, between now and then he's the story which is what he's managed to do brilliantly, I think, since June. Always creating new story lines. Look, the genius of a reality TV show is that is has to be constantly changing. You can't have the same story line week after week, or the show dies. He kept his going for fourteen years. He keeps changing the story, where he makes an outrageous statement and then he's waiting for incoming, he makes another outrageous statement, so that all the attention is focused on the second. He's used that, I think again brilliantly, for six months to maneuver himself at the top and I think, I suspect in the end he'll make some concession. He'll get say, a donation for Wounded Warriors that makes them look magnanimous but I think as of now he's succeeding in doing what he wants, which is to make him the center of all attention, all the time. [Fox News, Special Report, 1/26/16]

Erick Erickson: Trump Is A “Wimp” And “Loser” For Boycotting The Fox Debate. Fox contributor Erick Erickson called Trump a “wimp” and “loser” in a January 26 Resurgent article, saying he can't “handle tough questions from Megyn Kelly” and Fox's press releases made “him run away like a little girl”:

Now, Trump has declared he will organize a competing event because Kelly is going to again get the opportunity to ask him questions. Trump's supporters say that, like with National Review being dismissed from the Houston debate, Megyn Kelly should be dismissed from this debate.

That would be fair except National Review has explicitly endorsed the “Against Trump” position and Megyn Kelly has made no endorsement and has even had pro-Trump supporters on her television show to praise Trump. What makes the Trump decision to back out of the debate even more absurd is that Trump is now claiming it has to do with a Fox News press release, not about Kelly herself. Sticks and stones may break his bones, but press releases make him run away like a little girl.

Donald Trump cannot handle tough questions from Megyn Kelly, but thinks he can handle Hillary Clinton, Vladimir Putin, and ISIS. All Megyn Kelly intends to do is ask Trump questions. If he can't handle those questions, it boggles the mind to think he can handle Hillary Clinton on a debate stage hurling questions at him. It likewise seems rather impossible to imagine Trump could handle Vladimir Putin or the ISIS jihadists. [Resurgent, 1/26/15]

Marc Thiessen: “How Can Trump Defeat ISIS If He Can't Handle Tough Questions From Fox News?” Fox contributor Marc Thiessen said on the January 26 edition of The Kelly File that Trump's decision to withdraw from the debate was “a big mistake,” and derided Trump for “look[ing] like a baby.” Thiessen criticized Trump for “leav[ing] the debate stage entirely to Ted Cruz,” saying Trump “could lose because of this”:

MARC THIESSEN: Three reasons. He's run a very smart campaign up until now. This is his first major misstep. And the reason is quite simply is because he looks like a big baby. His whole premise of his campaign is that he's tougher than all of the other candidates out there, Democrats and Republicans alike. A few months ago, when Bernie Sanders had Black Lives Matter protesters come and push him off the debate stage, he said how can Bernie Sanders fight ISIS if he can't handle Black Lives Matter? Well,  how can Donald Trump defeat ISIS if he can't handle a few tough questions from Fox News? Running from a fight is not a New York value. And then second of all, he's not running against you Megyn, he's running against Ted Cruz, and he's going to leave the debate stage entirely to Ted Cruz a few days before the Iowa caucus where 40 percent of the voters haven't made up their minds yet. He could lose because of this. Iowa voters could be insulted by this. So this is a big mistake on his part, if he doesn't show up. [Fox News, The Kelly File1/26/16]

Brit Hume Tweeted A Doctored Image Of Trump As A Baby, Saying “I Want My Binkey.” On January 26, Fox senior political analyst Brit Hume ridiculed Trump, tweeting an image edited to show Donald Trump's head on a baby, with the caption saying “Megyn Kelly was mean to me! I want my binkey!!!”:

[, 1/26/16]

Fox's Brian Kilmeade: “This Goes Against [Trump's] Toughness Persona.” On the January 27 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade criticized Donald Trump for backing out of Thursday's debate, claiming it contradicts the “the toughness persona that he's put forward”:

STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): As you look at the politics of it, as John Roberts just pointed out, he won't be on the stage. Then again, he won't be head to head with Ted Cruz and everybody else who's going to try to beat up Donald Trump just, you know, a couple of days before the Iowa caucuses. In the long run, that could be good for Donald Trump.

BRIAN KILMEADE (CO-HOST): I mean, if you believe in the Ted Williams theory, he got over 400 and sat the last few games with the Red Sox and homered in his last at-bat but decided to sit down because he wanted it end to the way it ended. If Donald Trump wants the last image to be his last debate or last appearance or his last interview, if he thinks that'll help win it but it goes against the narrative that he's tough, takes on old commerce and doesn't want any preconditions. To me this goes against the toughness persona that he's put forward. [Fox News, Fox & Friends1/27/16]

Kilmeade: “What Good Is Having ... The RNC There If They're Not ... Trying To Broker Some Type Of Peace Deal?” On the January 27 edition of Fox & Friends, Kilmeade blamed the Republican National Committee (RNC) and chairman Reince Priebus for Trump's boycott of the Fox debate, slamming them for not “trying to broker some type of peace deal” between Fox and Trump ahead of the debate:

BRIAN KILMEADE (CO-HOST): What good is having Reince Priebus and the RNC there if they're not stepping forward and trying to broker some type of peace deal to get everybody that belongs on the stage on the stage. They said oh, we're going to let them fight it out. Well, what else are you doing? Are you caught up in football mania or something?

STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): The RNC on Saturday vowed not to get involved.

KILMEADE: What are they doing then?

DOOCY: They said the candidates can choose whether or not to be in the debate. [Fox News, Fox & Friends1/27/16]

Meanwhile, Fox's Bolton Cheered Trump's Decision

John Bolton: Trump Is “Not Intimidated By The Media.” On the January 26 edition of Fox Business' Lou Dobbs Tonight, Fox contributor John Bolton cheered Trump's decision to skip the debate, saying “he's not intimidated by anybody,” including “other candidates” and “the media.” Bolton applauded that Trump's decision “gives him enormous bargaining leverage down the road in another debate”:

JOHN BOLTON: Well, look in this case, from Trump's point of view, he has the pretext of this press release. But I think he's playing a larger game, I think he has shown throughout this campaign he's not intimidated by anybody.

LOU DOBBS (HOST): That's part of his appeal, for crying out loud.

BOLTON: Not intimidated by the other candidates on the stage, now he's not intimidated by the media. And the stakes, I think would be much higher in a general election debate. He's now shown he's prepared to walk away. I think that gives him, for a guy who wrote a book called “The Art of the Deal”, it gives him enormous bargaining leverage down the road in another debate, that may be more important. [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight1/26/16]