Trump 1, Journalism 0
I knew Roger Ailes was cynical, but I never imagined he would do this. Gabriel Sherman writes:
For a few days, Ailes didn’t know how to handle Trump’s full-throated attack on Kelly, who accused Trump of sexism during the debate. Eventually, as I reported yesterday, he made the same choice he always does: follow the ratings, and mend fences with Trump. But that process has meant that Fox has had to mute its defense of Kelly, who is now watching uneasily as the Fox audience turns on her: According to one high-level source, Kelly has told Fox producers that she’s been getting death threats from Trump supporters.
Ailes’s next order of business was getting Trump to disarm publicly. According to a source briefed on the negotiations, Ailes called Trump “multiple” times yesterday morning “begging” him to tweet out that they had made peace. Trump refused at first, but finally consented. “Roger Ailes just called,” he tweeted at 10:35 a.m. yesterday. “He is a great guy & assures me that ‘Trump’ will be treated fairly on @FoxNews. His word is always good!” (Irena Briganti, Ailes’s spokesperson, did not respond to a call for comment. The Trump campaign declined to comment.) Last night, Ailes put his own spin on it and released a statement. “We had a blunt but cordial conversation and the air has been cleared,” he said, adding that Kelly is a “brilliant journalist.” For her part, Kelly addressed the controversy only briefly on her show, saying simply: “I certainly will not apologize for doing good journalism.”
Good for her. It’s disgusting that Roger Ailes would do this to one of his people, whose only sin was asking a legitimate question that ticked off a petulant billionaire. I’m not a Fox News viewer, or a cable news viewer, and I wouldn’t know Megyn Kelly if she walked in my front door. But I saw the debate the other night, and there wasn’t a thing wrong with her question. That the chief of Fox News would throw one of his journalists to the sharks, especially to appease a man like Trump, is disgraceful. What kind of credibility will Fox News’s moderators have in future debates? Everybody will know that they are pulling punches on Donald Trump. And if they’ll do it for Trump, who else will they do it for, if they throw a big enough fit?