Donald Trump announced he'll skip Thursday night's Fox News debate after the network refused to remove Megyn Kelly as co-host, saying, "Let them have their debate, and let’s see how they do with the ratings."
It wasn't just the refusal to remove Kelly that upset Trump, but also the flippant way in which Fox responded to his request: "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."
The explosive episode is just the latest in an ongoing spat between Trump and Fox that began at the debate Kelly hosted in August.
Gathered below are 10 reasons why Fox hates Trump and continues to fight with the GOP front-runner.
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1. He doesn't need Fox News to win the nomination
— "No matter how loudly GOP candidates complained about Fox’s loutish politics in private, none risked taking Ailes on in public for fear of losing access to this crucial constituency — until Trump, that is," New York magazine reported
Wednesday. "Trump called Roger Ailes’ bluff," it added. Fox is used to being a power broker, and doesn't like that Trump has a following independent of any particular network.
2. He sharply criticized one of Fox's top hosts
— Donald Trump attacked Megyn Kelly, host of "The Kelly File," over the questions she asked him in the first debate of the 2016 election cycle on Aug. 6. Kelly's question to Trump about his alleged statements about women upset the billionaire, prompting him to call her out on Twitter after the debate. He criticized her objectivity, abilities as a journalist, and said in one interview, "There was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her . . . wherever," which many interpreted as an allusion to menstruation. Trump soon denied such a reference, and eventually patched things up in a phone call with Fox News chairman Roger Ailes.
3. He continually says Kelly is biased
— In October, Trump slammed Kelly again in a series of tweets, taking issue with one episode in which she featured a Jeb Bush proponent, which he referred to
as "a Bushy." This continued into the following months, with Trump calling her
"the most overrated anchor at Fox News." Kelly is one of the top-rated television news hosts on the air, and Fox doesn't want Trump messing with her brand.
4. He called out Fox chairman Roger Ailes
— "Roger Ailes and Fox News think they can toy with him, but Mr. Trump doesn’t play games," the Trump campaign said in a statement
on Tuesday. "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."
5. He reportedly asked to speak to Ailes' boss, Rupert Murdoch
— Trump was not taking Ailes' phone calls as of Wednesday morning, and has said privately that he will only deal with owner Rupert Murdoch, New York magazine reported
. "Having Murdoch dragged into the mess could be a serious problem for Ailes," the magazine wrote.
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6. His campaign suggested Fox executives favor other candidates
— Trump's campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said in a Wednesday morning interview that Fox executives are biased. "You’ve got executives over there who’ve got relatives working for the other campaigns," he said, according to Politico
. "These are the people who put the debate questions together. And instead of having those conversations and making sure that the debate is going to be fair, they do things like troll Mr. Trump and put out statements that aren’t very helpful when you’re trying to have an open and honest dialogue on the debate stage."
7. He has won concessions from other networks
— "On three prior occasions, Trump's threats resulted in debate hosts tweaking their rules or dumping participants," New York magazine reported
Wednesday. Fox does not appreciate Trump continuing to meddle with the debates, and would rather they be conducted on the network's terms only. Trump also got the RNC to boot National Review from its co-host slot for a February debate after it released its "Against Trump" issue.
8. He possibly threatened to expose information about Kelly
— During a Monday interview, Trump suggested that he has dirt on Kelly and is willing to leak it. "Maybe I know too much about her," he said, according to New York magazine
9. He reportedly created a rift among Fox employees
— New York magazine reported that there is a "sense
of confusion that is swirling throughout Fox," resulting from Trump's attacks on Kelly. "The network is split between Kelly's allies like Brit Hume and conservative anchors that are furious that Kelly — who graces the cover of Vanity Fair this month — has become the face of the network. An anchor fumed that Kelly hosted Michael Moore on her program," the magazine reported.
10. He's asked networks to share their debate profits with veterans
— After Fox News saw record ratings for its August debate, Trump noticed that CNN hiked its advertising rates ahead of its own debate, The Hill reported
. In a letter to CNN president Jeff Zucker, Trump attributed the ratings bump to his appearance, and said, "I believe that all profits from this broadcast should go to various VETERANS groups, a list of which I will send to you in the near future."
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