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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Update: Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski has now told reporters that Trump “will not be participating in the Fox debate” as a result of Megyn Kelly being there, and that this decision is “not under negotiation.”

At a press conference, Trump said Fox’s response to him (see below) was “written by a child,” and he declared of his likely debate absence: “Let’s see how much money FOX is going to make on the debate without me.”

For what it’s worth, this writer still thinks Trump is bluffing. Let’s wait and see.

Late Update: Actually, Trump is increasingly starting to look like he might really mean it.

Donald Trump is ramping up his threat to boycott this Thursday’s Republican debate on Fox News, if Fox anchor Megyn Kelly remains one of the co-moderators. But again, the question remains: Is he serious about ditching the debate — or is this instead the bravado of a pro-wrestling villain, drumming up more ratings for a debate he will indeed attend?

In either case, it doesn’t look like the people at Fox are enjoying this.

Trump posted this poll Tuesday on Twitter, asking his supporters/fans whether he should attend the debate.

The Donald also posted an accompanying video to Instagram, in which he says to the camera: “Megyn Kelly’s really biased against me. She knows that, I know that, everybody knows that. Do you really think she can be fair at a debate?”

Should I do the #GOPdebate?

A video posted by Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on

In response, a Fox News spokesperson gave this rather interesting statement to Mediaite:

We learned from a secret back channel that the Ayatollah and Putin both intend to treat Donald Trump unfairly when they meet with him if he becomes president — a nefarious source tells us that Trump has his own secret plan to replace the Cabinet with his Twitter followers to see if he should even go to those meetings.

Trump soon responded on Twitter:

Well, that should calm things down.

At the very first Republican debate this past August, Kelly asked Trump about previous offensive comments he had publicly made about women who were adversaries of his, such as calling them “fat pigs,” “dogs,” “slobs,” and “disgusting animals.”

Soon after the debate, Trump later commented in the press about Kelly: “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her — wherever.” The remark was widely interpreted as a remark about her menstrual cycle — a charge that he has denied. He also said during the ensuing controversy, “she asked me a very inappropriate question. She should really be apologizing to me, you want to know the truth.”

Since then, Trump has been in running feud with Kelly that he just won’t let go, and has often threatened that he would refuse to appear on the channel at all, which would deprive them of the ratings that would come from the GOP frontrunner. Of course, he’s just kept going on the channel, anyway. After all, he’s got the ratings — but they’ve got the Republican voters.

Blake Neff

Twitter screenshot

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

On July 10, CNN's Oliver Darcy reported that Blake Neff, the top writer for Tucker Carlson's prime-time Fox News show, had been anonymously posting racist, misogynistic, homophobic, and other offensive content on an online forum for five years. Neff used racist and homophobic slurs, referred to women in a derogatory manner, and pushed white supremacist content while writing for Carlson's show. Neff resigned after CNN contacted him for comment.

As Darcy reported, in an interview with the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine, Neff claimed anything Carlson read during his show was initially drafted by him. Darcy also found instances where there was "some overlap between the forum and the show," as sometimes the "material Neff encountered on the forum found its way on to Carlson's show."

During a 2018 appearance on Fox's The Five to promote his book Ship of Fools, Carlson mentioned Neff by name, calling him a "wonderful writer." Carlson also included Neff in the acknowledgments of the book.

Before joining Fox News, Neff worked at The Daily Caller, a conservative news outlet that Carlson co-founded. The outlet has published a number of white supremacists, anti-Semites, and bigots.

Carlson has a long history of promoting white supremacist content on his show. His show has featured many guests who have connections to white supremacy and far-right extremism. Carlson has regularly been praised by Neo-Nazis and various far-right extremist figures, and he's been a hero on many white supremacist podcasts. Users of the extremist online message boards 4chan and 8chan have repeatedly praised Carlson.

The manifesto released by the gunman who killed 20 people in El Paso, Texas, in 2019 was strewn with content that echoed talking points from Carlson's show. Days after the shooting, Carlson declared that calling white supremacy a serious issue is a "hoax" as it is "actually not a real problem in America."

Carlson has been hemorrhaging advertisers following his racist coverage of the Black Lives Matters movement and the recent protests against police brutality. Now that we know his top writer was using content from white supremacist online message boards for Carlson's show, it is more imperative than ever that advertisers distance their brands away from this toxicity.