By now it should be clear to both sides of the Donald Trump–Fox News war that there never was — nor will there likely be — an enduring truce. Case in point: Earlier today, Fox News released a statement announcing that the network’s chairman, Roger Ailes, and Trump will meet next week to discuss “their differences of opinion regarding Fox’s coverage of Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign.” It’s the second time in a month that Ailes has attempted to broker peace with Trump after Trump took to Twitter to blast Megyn Kelly.
One reason there likely won’t be peace in our time is that Trump still has not gotten over Kelly’s questioning of him during the opening Republican primary debate. “She caused me a lot of damage, didn’t she?” Trump recently vented to a friend. “He’s really angry,” a source explained.
Which is why the latest dustup broke out on Tuesday night. During Kelly’s show, Trump fired off a series of anti-Kelly tweets. Both sides dispute what happened next. According to a Fox source, Ailes called Fox executive vice-president Bill Shine and told him to cancel Trump’s scheduled appearance on The O’Reilly Factor as payback. For its part, the Trump campaign says Trump canceled O’Reilly by announcing a Fox boycott. Fox spokesperson Irena Briganti did not return a call for comment. Trump declined to comment.
Both sides are posturing to save face. Yesterday a Fox statement called Trump’s boycott “stale and tiresome.” But a source close to the Trump campaign told me that Trump thinks he has the leverage. Trump has been hearing from Fox hosts who are worried that his boycott will hurt ratings. The calculus seems to be that by shunning Fox, Trump is hoping to drive a wedge between Fox hosts, Kelly, and Ailes. That may be wishful thinking. As an Ailes friend told me today: “Roger can’t turn back. The entire credibility of Fox as powerbroker rests on Trump being destroyed.”