Fox News Channel says it was the party that canceled Donald Trump's scheduled appearance and not the other way around.
Trump on Wednesday announced on Twitter he would be boycotting
the conservative-leaning news channel for the "foreseeable future" because of what he called unfair coverage.
But a Fox News Channel spokesperson said that Trump's boycott announcement came only after the channel canceled an appearance he had scheduled for Thursday night's "O'Reilly Factor."
The statement to the media read:
At 11:45am today, we canceled Donald Trump's scheduled appearance on The O'Reilly Factor on Thursday, which resulted in Mr. Trump's subsequent tweet about his 'boycott' of FOX News. The press predictably jumped to cover his tweet, creating yet another distraction from any real issues that Mr. Trump might be questioned about. When coverage doesn't go his way, he engages in personal attacks on our anchors and hosts, which has grown stale and tiresome. He doesn't seem to grasp that candidates telling journalists what to ask is not how the media works in this country.
Trump's campaign responded with a statement to the press:
Mr. Trump stands by his statement made earlier today. As a candidate for President of the United States and the definitive front runner in every poll, both nationally and state wide, including the just released poll in the state of Florida, Mr. Trump expects to be treated fairly. All you have to do is look at the tremendous ratings last night from the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, where Mr. Trump was the guest, or the ratings from both debates, to fully understand the facts.
Trump had been a longtime guest of Fox News Channel shows years before he decided to run for president, but he has been engaged in an on-again-off-again feud with the channel ever since the first Republican presidential debate, which was hosted by Fox News.
Trump later complained that all three moderators asked him tougher questions than the other candidates, and he particularly went after Megyn Kelly, who had asked him about his comments about women on Twitter.
His comment that "blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever" was interpreted to be a reference to hormones by most, though Trump said he meant her ears when he said "wherever."
Trump stayed off the network for a couple of weeks after that, and said that Kelly's vacation right afterword was punishment by Fox News, though the network said it had been scheduled long before the dust-up.
Trump's return to Fox never included an appearance on Kelly's primetime show, though he did appear on other Fox programs, including "Hannity," "The O'Reilly Factor" and "On the Record with Greta Van Susteren."
When he slammed Kelly again, Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes demanded an apology, but Trump never gave one. He eventually was on Fox programs again.
Trump was just on Van Susteren's show Monday night, but he immediately lost any love he had when he watched the two shows following her: O'Reilly's and Kelly's.
Both featured guests who talked about Trump's slip in a CNN/ORC poll the day before. Though Trump still held the top position, he had dropped to 24 percent, while other polls had him in the low 30s.
That led to another round of Tweets challenging Fox's coverage.
Van Susteren, who had interviewed Trump on Monday, was irritated, writing on her blog
GretaWire that he should stop bashing her network when she had just given him a fair interview.
Fox's statement didn't say why it canceled Thursday's appearance on "O'Reilly," but frequent Fox guest Guy Benson tweeted that it was Trump's sniping at Fox hosts that brought about the action.
Trump has complained about other news outlets' coverage of him, including CNN and NBC News, but has not let that stop him from making appearances as he has on Fox.
Fox, CNN and MSNBC regularly break into live coverage of Trump's speeches, where he points to the television cameras and reporters in the back of the room and calls them "bad people" as the crowds cheer. They are covering him live only because it boosts their ratings, he says.
Trump has appeared on "The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon" and "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" despite the two making jokes at his expense.
After Monday's Colbert appearance, Trump even tweeted how much he enjoyed it.
Though Trump may be missing out on a large audience provided by O'Reilly – his show is the highest-rated program on cable news – he will more than make up for it Sunday when he appears on CBS's "60 Minutes," the highest-rated news program on television.
That interview with "CBS Evening News" anchor Scott Pelley already has been taped.
O'Reilly is currently promoting his latest book, "Killing Reagan,"
and told the "Today" show on Wednesday Trump's tweets are an extension of his reality show persona.
"And then, you know, this machine, this tweeting thing, that's like the worst thing you could give Donald Trump, is this tweeting thing," O'Reilly said. "So I just think this is just a extension of his reality show, 'The Apprentice.' This is just theater right now. … The personal stuff is a piffle."
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