The already contentious relationship between Donald Trump and Fox News got a lot worse on Friday night after Trump called for a boycott of Megyn Kelly’s show and the network responded with an official statement criticizing Trump’s “extreme, sick obsession” with Kelly, questioning his dignity, and calling the candidate’s attacks on the network star “crude” and “sexist.”
Everything got started when Trump launched a tweet on Friday calling Kelly “sick” and “overrated”:
The network then publicly responded with a statement using its sternest words yet for the GOP front-runner:
Donald Trump’s vitriolic attacks against Megyn Kelly and his extreme, sick obsession with her is beneath the dignity of a presidential candidate who wants to occupy the highest office in the land. Megyn is an exemplary journalist and one of the leading anchors in America — we’re extremely proud of her phenomenal work and continue to fully support her throughout every day of Trump’s endless barrage of crude and sexist verbal assaults. As the mother of three young children, with a successful law career and the second highest rated show in cable news, it’s especially deplorable for her to be repeatedly abused just for doing her job.
And the Trump campaign then responded in kind, both doubling down on the candidate’s tweet and tossing in some new accusations:
Megyn Kelly is a highly overrated reporter and anchor that constantly disparages Mr. Trump with negative and inaccurate reports. Despite the fact he wants nothing to do with her and will not appear on her show due to her extremely biased reporting, much of the program is about him anyway on a nightly basis. In fact, Fox News has begged Mr. Trump to do a prime time special to be broadcast on the Fox Network, not cable, with Megyn Kelly. He has turned them down. Likewise, they recently called for an unsolicited and unplanned debate with Kelly as a featured moderator. He turned them down and they immediately canceled. On the Fox debate that Mr. Trump did not do, they received by far their lowest rating. Unlike Megyn Kelly, who resorts to putting out statements via Fox News, Mr. Trump will continue to defend himself against the inordinate amount of unfair and inaccurate coverage he receives on her second-rate show each night.
CNN’s Dylan Byers reports that the network is denying they approached Trump for the interview his campaign referenced, noting that “Fox recently announced plans for Kelly to do a special on the broadcast network in May, but a Fox News spokesperson said Friday night, ‘No one associated with Megyn Kelly’s upcoming Fox Broadcasting special reached out to Donald Trump for an interview.’”
Kelly herself, meanwhile, used her show on Friday night to highlight her high ratings sans Trump, insisting that:
Many shows get a pop if they put him on. I would submit to you I’m the second-highest-rated show in all of cable news and I haven’t had Trump on in seven months. It can be done without him.
Trump disagreed with that assessment on Saturday:
Elsewhere in the Fox News universe, a few of the network’s other personalities have spoken out to defend their colleague. Geraldo Rivera tweeted this criticism of Trump on Friday:
Anchor Bret Baier jumped in as well:
Baier also told the Daily Beast on Friday that Trump’s attacks “really upset” him and that the situation is “not at all comfortable.”