The biggest story in politics and about the media this week is the tussle between Donald Trump and Fox News over Megyn Kelly. Ever since Megyn asked Donald a question he didn’t like about his attitudes toward women in the first Fox News debate, he has been calling her a bimbo, a terrible journalist and worse. Megyn, for her part, has tried to stay above the fray, having the natural advantage of being the “victim” of the Donald’s attacks. Her question at the opening of the first debate was well with acceptable parameters for presidential debates.
All this came to a head this week when Trump said he wouldn’t participate in the second Fox News debate tomorrow if Megan Kelly was one of the moderators. We don’t know the totality of communication that may have taken place behind the scene between the Trump campaign and Fox News, but Trump first said he “probably” wouldn’t participated in the debate and then soon followed with a statement that he would not participate. Instead, he would hold a separate event in Iowa to raise money for veterans. That probably has something to do with the sarcastic statement the Fox News press office put out.
“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 has been a master at manipulating the media, and many see this as just another artful move on his part to garner attention before the Iowa caucuses. Until Trump came along, the media has had the upper hand in American politics. It has been able to destroy any politician that didn’t genuflect before it. All Trump is doing in the dust up with Kelly, the argument goes, is demonstrating that he can tell the mighty Fox News “screw you” and get away with it. This no doubt will endear him even more to his host of ardent supporters. He’ll win Iowa and New Hampshire and breeze through the primaries to the nomination at the Republican National Convention. In the end the way he has treated Kelly will have been justified as part of a winning strategy.
The other side of this coin is that Trumps comments and treatment of Megan Kelly are un-presidential and uncalled-for and expose Trump for who and what he really is—an egotist, a narcissist and a misogynist. His attack on Trump will turn off voters and, in the end, could help cost him the nomination.
Where do I stand on all this? I fully understand and appreciate Trumps masterful manipulation of the media. A vast number of voters, Republicans and Democrats, are fed up with the status quo and enjoy, no love, Trumps act. They want to see the establishment toppled—the equivalent of stabbing Caesar. However, they may have felt about Megan Kelly before the clash, they excuse Trumps behavior toward her as brilliant strategy.
In the interest of full disclosure, I am among the millions of admirers of Megyn Kelly. She is one of the brightest media stars to come along in a long time. Many pundits refer to her as the new Barbara Walters—forget the Barbara Walters of The View and consider her impressive life’s work. I agree. I understand also why Fox’s Roger Ailes is supporting Megan and refusing to cave to Trump’s pressure. She earns Fox News a lot more money than they will lose because of lower ratings in tomorrow’s debate. Should Ailes pull Kelly from the debate, she no doubt would bolt from the network.
Furthermore, I’m not among the legion of Trump loyalists. While I share much of their dissatisfaction with Washington, D.C., establishment, I have my doubts about his ability to run the country and command the U.S. Armed Forces. There is no room in the presidency for on-the-job training. It didn’t work with Barack Obama and I don’t believe it will work with Donald Trump.
We won’t have to wait long to determine who benefits the most from this scuffle. Frankly, I’m pulling for Megyn.
Here’s the link to the article I wrote on Rosie O’Donnell, Donald Trump, and Barbara Walters ROSIE, THE DONALD AND BABS