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Was Fox News ready to “go to war” with Donald Trump? By all accounts, Fox News Channel chairman and CEO Roger Ailes was livid over comments made by the Republican presidential front-runner in the aftermath of the network’s record-breaking GOP debate Thursday night. But Trump’s personal attacks on debate co-moderator Megyn Kelly–including a suggestion that Kelly owed Trump an apology–forced Ailes to deliver an ultimatum.
A high level source with knowledge of the situation told TVNewser, “Roger could have played the feud out to a ratings bonanza all over Fox for a week,” but Ailes wanted to protect Kelly. “He put Megyn above that and knew the high road was the best way to preserve and protect her dignity, integrity and class–and her safety.”
“It’s not up to Fox to wage a political campaign against Trump,” said the source. “Roger understood better than anyone that the media would love to see a prolonged war between the two of them, but that would not be in the best interest of Megyn, which is why this was handled in a dignified way behind the scenes — in order to lower the temperature and calm the waters for all. You don’t put a superstar in the middle of a food fight.”
As Glenn Beck has speculated, “(Trump) got his butt handed to him,” in the conversation with Ailes. “Donald is not afraid of anybody but Roger Ailes. … [So] Donald was not looking forward to a phone call from Roger Ailes. And he gets that phone call and Roger said, ‘Trump, knock it off. Knock it off.’”
“Having been involved in three presidential campaigns, no one understood the dynamic in play with Trump better than Roger,” said the source. “These are two titans at the cross section of business, media and politics.”
While Trump was invited to appear on Fox News–he did interviews with Fox & Friends and Hannity Tuesday–the source says there was never any discussion of an hour-long “special” with Kelly. The anchor made her own statement on the matter at the top of The Kelly File Monday, and moved on.