Donald Trump Declares War on Fox News, Half the 2016 Field

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Tea Party Rally
Donald Trump speaks at a rally against the Iran nuclear agreement on September 9, 2015.Photo: Anadolu Agency/2015 Anadolu Agency

America briefly looked away from the Donald Trump Show on Wednesday in honor of Pope Francis’s U.S. visit, and the candidate promptly threw a full temper tantrum because no one was paying attention to him. Trump began the day by declaring that he was done with Fox News … again: 

But several hours later, Fox News claimed that they actually canceled Trump’s scheduled Thursday appearance on The O’Reilly Factor about 15 minutes before Trump announced his “boycott.”

This is the third time Trump has declared war on the network. Even after he and Fox News chief Roger Ailes struck a second truce in late August, Trump would regularly lash out at the network’s journalists. Earlier this week, he was at it again:

Fox News didn’t say why Trump’s appearance was canceled, but the network noted that he’s been attacking their journalists. “The press predictably jumped to cover his tweet, creating yet another distraction from any real issues that Mr. Trump might be questioned about,” they said in a statement. “When coverage doesn’t go his way, he engages in personal attacks on our anchors and hosts, which has grown stale and tiresome. He doesn’t seem to grasp that candidates telling journalists what to ask is not how the media works in this country.”

Next, Trump blew off some steam by attacking half the GOP field. During a campaign stop in North Charleston, South Carolina (where, surprisingly, the room was only half full), he encouraged Rand Paul to drop out due to his low poll numbers. He suggested Carly Fiorina, who’s rising in the polls, might be broke. “Carly is out there fighting to raise money,” he said. “She doesn’t want to spend her own money. Maybe she doesn’t have it.” And he mocked various candidates for sweating at the last debate. “That room was 100 degrees. That room was hot. I mean poor Chris Christie,” Trump said. “He’s a nice guy; it wasn’t fair.” (Of course, he had a vaguely sexist remark for Democrat Hillary Clinton, who he called “shrill.”)

Trump was particularly harsh toward Marco Rubio, who he said “has got the number one worst attendance record” in the Senate (which is mostly true). He followed up with some more dubious claims, saying Rubio is poor (“Maybe it’s good politically to say you owe money because you overborrowed on your credit cards. He’s got nothing. I mean, he’s got nothing”) and bizarrely sweaty (“I’ve never seen a young guy sweat that much. He’s drinking water, water, water. I never saw anything like this with him with the water”). He called Rubio “disloyal” for running against his political mentor Jeb Bush, but also complained that the two pretend to be friends when they “hate each other.” In conclusion, Trump thinks Rubio is “overly ambitious, too young, and I have better hair than he does, right?” 

Trump drew the biggest cheers when he declared, “I am so tired of this politically correct crap” … so it was particularly ironic when he complained later that night about a Fox News pundit using some mildly salty language. On Megyn Kelly’s show, National Review editor Rich Lowry explained why he believes Trump was going after Fiorina. “Let’s be honest: Carly cut his balls off with the precision of a surgeon — and he knows it,” he said, prompting Kelly to cover her eyes and declare, “You can’t say that!”

Trump was outraged:

Lowry doesn’t have anything to worry about since the Federal Communications Commission doesn’t fine cable channels for indecent language. He fired back at Trump by retweeting dozens of messages mocking him, and calling him a hypocrite.

Trump is still the front-runner, but he dropped eight points in the last CNN/ORC national poll while Fiorina and Rubio saw a post-debate bump. It’s very possible that, as Fox News suggested, Trump pitched a fit to keep the spotlight on him rather than his surging rivals. If so, it seems to be working: