The relationship between Fox News and Donald Trump oscillates between hot and cold with remarkable rapidity. Trump was a favorite on Fox but when he was seemingly ambushed by the moderators during the first debate, he took umbrage and attacked Megyn Kelly in particular and vowed to never appear on their shows again. Fox head Roger Ailes than quickly apologized and Trump agreed to withdraw his boycott, though he continued to occasionally lob attacks at Kelly.
Then last week conservative Rich Lowry, editor of National Review, appeared on Kelly’s show and praised Fiorina’s performance in the debate, saying that she “cut [Trump’s] balls off with the precision of a surgeon”, suggesting that the conservative establishment has decided to really go after Trump in a major way.
This enraged Trump once again and he renewed his boycott campaign. Now Ailes has called for another meeting with Trump to try and soothe his feelings, and issued a statement:
“Fox News Chairman & CEO Roger Ailes and Donald Trump spoke this morning and plan to have a meeting next week to discuss their differences of opinion regarding Fox’s coverage of Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign, The statement read. “Ailes will be joined by senior Fox editorial executives. Mr. Trump believes he has been treated unfairly in certain instances. FOX News has held every candidate in this race to the highest journalistic standards throughout our coverage. We believe a candid meeting about our differences is required and that any misunderstandings can be handled without compromising those standards.”
This recalls to my mind the stormy relationship between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton that was played out in the public eye where it seemed like each day there were new reports of a break up followed soon after by public reconciliations and protestations of undying love.
This also illustrates the absurdly cozy relationship between politicians and the media in the US. News organizations should report what they see as right and the fact that some people get offended and refuse to appear on their shows should not matter. But the vapid ‘news’ shows are desperate to have high-profile guests appear on them and are terrified of offending them, as NBC’s Chuck Todd pretty much conceded.
For the longest time, the Republican party and the right wing media echo chamber of Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and other talkers had a symbiotic relationship, each enabling the other to flourish. That relationship has been fracturing recently, not on ideology but on tactics, with the Tea Party elements taking a maximalist approach of wanting all their demands being met and being willing to shut down the government if they were not.
What Trump has done, and his on-again, off-again feud with Fox is symptomatic of this, is to widen that fissure even more and make it more public.