Donald Trump and Fox News chairman Roger Ailes have not sat down for the much-publicized fairness summit that is supposed to take place this week, according to two sources close to the principals. And as of now there are no active plans for a get-together. “It may not happen,” one Fox source said. “It’s day to day.” A Trump friend told me that Trump never officially agreed to sit down with Ailes despite what Fox’s press release stated. Another Trump source explained that Trump is open to a meeting, but scheduling remains difficult. Meanwhile, Fox anchors aren’t waiting around for the men to get in a room. Tuesday night, Trump appeared on The O’Reilly Factor for two back-to-back segments.
When Trump announced last Wednesday that he was boycotting Fox News, he privately explained to friends that he had leverage: Trump has been hearing that Fox hosts are worried that his absence from their air would hurt Fox ratings. Apparently, he was right. On Monday morning, according to a Trump source, Bill O’Reilly personally called Trump and lobbied him to come on his show. “O’Reilly’s thinking is, if Trump won’t do Megyn Kelly’s show that’s Megyn’s problem,” one person close to O’Reilly told me.
Inside Fox, executives remain confused as ever about how to handle Trump. “They’re scared to death of losing Trump,” one Fox personality told me. With each passing day Ailes seems to veer from hardball to softball and back again. Last week, for example, Fox canceled Trump’s booking on O’Reilly and blasted out a statement calling Trump’s attacks “stale” and “tiresome.” But behind the scenes Ailes was trying to deescalate the situation with Trump. During a private phone call, he told Trump that it’s a smart political strategy to stop attacking the media. And when O’Reilly booked Trump, Ailes did not stop him. Irena Briganti, a Fox spokesperson, did not return a call for comment. The Trump campaign declined to comment.