On July 12, Newsmax hosts Eric Bolling and Dick Morris floated the idea that former President Donald Trump should skip the upcoming Republican primary debate on Fox News and instead “schedule a town hall or some other forum on Newsmax, to compete with Fox News” in the same time slot.
Both Morris and Bolling are former Fox employees who were fired and eventually washed up on Newsmax, adding another layer to the network’s latest attempt to nip at the heels of Fox News, which is still reeling from a wide variety of consequences for its 2020 election coverage — including laundering pro-Trump falsehoods in an attempt to compete with the likes of Newsmax. Now, Trump has threatened to boycott the first Republican presidential primary debate in August over Fox’s involvement.
“I think that this is an ambush that he’s been walking into,” Morris said of the debate. “And we know that [Rupert] Murdoch, who owns Fox News, is deeply anti-Trump, determined to defeat him.”
Morris pointed to Trump’s recent “prosecution deposition” with Fox anchor Bret Baier as proof that the network has it out for Trump, so for him to attend a Fox debate would be akin to “walking in front of a firing squad.”
Baier’s interview previously ignited the passions of the Trump base. In June, longtime Trump ally Steve Bannon called Baier’s interview an “interrogation” and declared Fox News “the enemy” of the pro-Trump movement.
Morris commented on Newsmax that if Trump accepted his proposal to counter-program Fox’s debate coverage, then “on one station you'll have the RINOs and the other station you’ll have the MAGAs. I think it’ll be very useful contrast. I think people will benefit from that.”
“I would tend to agree with you, Dick,” said Bolling. “And I certainly invite President Trump to use this show as his forum to do it.”
After Bolling took care to exclude reflexive Trump defenders Maria Bartiromo and Sean Hannity from the Fox-bashing, Morris agreed that “Hannity’s pretty fair” but stood firm that for Trump, the Fox/GOP debate is “a forum that is run by a network determined to bring you down,” employing Baier as a “hitman” to pepper him with unfair questions.
“I think that it’s insane for him to walk into that forum, and it’s outrageous of the Republican Party to sponsor it, and to almost require candidates to participate in it,” Morris said, “even though their likely nominee, Donald Trump, could be badly hurt.”
Discussing Fox News itself, Morris added that “fundamentally, the idea of a network run by a czar — Rupert Murdoch — who has personal axes to grind, and has a dog in every hunt and personal self-interest, makes for bad television.”