Donald Trump has announced that he will not be participating in Thursday’s Fox News debate, after the network refused to budge on his demand that Megyn Kelly be removed as a moderator. So is he serious?
It’s very tempting to regard Trump’s latest move as a huge bluff — perhaps a pro-wrestling-style ruse to drum up even more ratings for a major showdown with Kelly. But notably, the Trump campaign now lists an alternate event he will attend instead: a fundraiser for wounded veterans. That’s not exactly the kind of commitment he could use as a political football, and then just drop them to go back to the debate.
While it’s always hard to be sure what in the world Trump is doing, remember this: For every single time people have said he had just gone too far and crashed his campaign — well, that’s when he goes straight up in the polls again.
Meanwhile, Megyn Kelly is holding firm, saying on air Tuesday night: “The debate will go on with or without Mr. Trump,” and standing up against this effort by a candidate to push her network around.
As might be expected, Trump’s statement boasts of his own greatness — his business acumen, his popularity, and the ratings he has generated for the debates themselves — thus making the case that Fox has the most to lose from him bolting.
Actually, Trump’s statement must be read to be believed:
TRUMP CAMPAIGN STATEMENT ON FOX NEWS DEBATE
(New York, NY) January 26th, 2016 — As someone who wrote one of the best-selling business books of all time, The Art of the Deal, who has built an incredible company, including some of the most valuable and iconic assets in the world, and as someone who has a personal net worth of many billions of dollars, Mr. Trump knows a bad deal when he sees one. FOX News is making tens of millions of dollars on debates, and setting ratings records (the highest in history), where as in previous years they were low-rated afterthoughts.
Unlike the very stupid, highly incompetent people running our country into the ground, Mr. Trump knows when to walk away. Roger Ailes and FOX News think they can toy with him, but Mr. Trump doesn’t play games. There have already been six debates, and according to all online debate polls including Drudge, Slate, Time Magazine, and many others, Mr. Trump has won all of them, in particular the last one. Whereas he has always been a job creator and not a debater, he nevertheless truly enjoys the debating process — and it has been very good for him, both in polls and popularity.
He will not be participating in the FOX News debate and will instead host an event in Iowa to raise money for the Veterans and Wounded Warriors, who have been treated so horribly by our all talk, no action politicians. Like running for office as an extremely successful person, this takes guts and it is the kind mentality our country needs in order to Make America Great Again.
Update: Fox News released their own statement to Deadline, accusing the Trump campaign of making threats to continually harass Megyn Kelly: “We can’t give in to terrorizations toward any of our employees.”
“As many of our viewers know, Fox News is hosting a sanctioned debate in Des Moines, Iowa on Thursday night, three days before the first votes of the 2016 election are cast in the Iowa Caucus. Donald Trump is refusing to debate seven of his fellow presidential candidates on stage that night, which is near unprecedented. We’re not sure how Iowans are going to feel about him walking away from them at the last minute, but it should be clear to the American public by now that this is rooted in one thing – Megyn Kelly, whom he has viciously attacked since August and has now spent four days demanding be removed from the debate stage. Capitulating to politicians’ ultimatums about a debate moderator violates all journalistic standards, as do threats, including the one leveled by Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski toward Megyn Kelly. In a call on Saturday with a Fox News executive, Lewandowski stated that Megyn had a ‘rough couple of days after that last debate’ and he ‘would hate to have her go through that again.’ Lewandowski was warned not to level any more threats, but he continued to do so. We can’t give in to terrorizations toward any of our employees. Trump is still welcome at Thursday night’s debate and will be treated fairly, just as he has been during his 132 appearances on Fox News & Fox Business, but he can’t dictate the moderators or the questions.”
Photo: U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump answers questions from reporters after being endorsed by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio (L) before a campaign rally in Marshalltown, Iowa January 26, 2016. REUTERS/Brian Snyder