Has Fox News turned against Donald Trump?
Trump seems to think so.
On Friday he lashed out at GOP debate moderator Megyn Kelly, Fox News analyst Charles Krauthammer and the network.
“@FoxNews you should be ashamed of yourself. I got you the highest debate ratings in your history & you say nothing but bad…,” Trump tweeted Friday.
Another tweet took aim at Krauthammer who said the Thursday night debate revealed Trump too “testy” and “thin-skinned.” Krauthammer said the other candidates “left him out in the cold.”
Trump blasted Krauthammer in a couple of tweets, including one that said Fox should fire him.
After sparring with the Fox moderators during Thursday’s debate, Trump attacked them on Twitter afterward, directing most of his ire at Kelly.
“The Fox News trio, especially Megyn Kelly, was not very good or professional!” he wrote at 3:53 a.m. Friday.
Trump also said she “really bombed,” and he retweeted a dozen fans who criticized her hostility and called her a “bimbo.”
Then he called into MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” to advance his complaints.
“I’m very surprised at Fox News,” he said, accusing the moderators of being tough on him while going easy on others. “I would say it’s pretty unprofessional, but we will live with it.”
The same questions that ticked off Trump impressed a lot of journalists, even some who rarely say anything nice about Fox News.
“Hooray for Fox News,” New York Times columnist Frank Bruni wrote, while admitting he “never imagined writing” those words.
And it almost goes without saying that the tough questioning of Trump made for good TV, which were showed in the ratings. A total of 24 million viewers tuned in, the highest-rated primary debate in TV history.
But many of Trump’s supporters lashed out against Fox overnight — blasting the network for biased coverage. Some invoked the network’s “fair and balanced” slogan to call the questioning unfair.
In recent weeks there has been a lot of curiosity about Fox’s Trump coverage, given the channel’s influence in conservative circles and Fox owner Rupert Murdoch’s criticism of Trump.
In mid-July Murdoch called the GOP frontrunner “embarrassing.” Then New York magazine reported that Murdoch had asked Fox News chairman Roger Ailes to dial back the channel’s Trump coverage and Ailes had declined.
(Ailes, however, threw cold water on that report.)
One of the viewers Trump retweeted overnight wondered what Kelly’s “hidden agenda” might have been.
On Thursday night Kelly’s first question to Trump was as follows:
“You’ve called women you don’t like ‘fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals.’” He interrupted to say “only Rosie O’Donnell,” and she shut him down: “No, it wasn’t.”
She continued: “Your Twitter account has several disparaging comments about women’s looks. You once told a contestant on ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees. Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man we should elect as president, and how will you answer the charge from Hillary Clinton, who was likely to be the Democratic nominee, that you are part of the war on women?”
He didn’t really answer her question.
Trump’s battles with Kelly will probably further burnish the anchorwoman’s reputation as a tough-as-nails television star. The conservative cable news channel has sought to market Kelly as a strong and independent voice.
Inside Fox, the view at the end of the debate was that all three moderators — Kelly, Bret Baier and Chris Wallace — had fared well, and that Kelly was the stand-out.
Some political observers said that Fox’s post-debate coverage seemed tilted against Trump, partly because of a Frank Luntz focus group, convened by Fox and televised immediately after the debate, that had an anti-Trump tone.
Trump was incensed by the focus group.
“Where did you find that dumb panel” he asked Luntz via Twitter.
He also tweeted that Luntz is “a low class slob who came to my office looking for consulting work and I had zero interest. Now he picks anti-Trump panels!”