Donald Trump and the Fox News Channel are in talks about Trump possibly appearing on Fox on Monday night, according to a source with knowledge of the talks....Chances are you've already seen this tweet:
It is "highly unlikely," however, that Trump would appear at 9 p.m. with host Megyn Kelly, the source said, and that's probably an understatement. Trump has repeatedly and personally insulted Kelly in recent days.
But talks are underway about a Trump interview with another prime time host, like Sean Hannity, the source said, adding that nothing had been confirmed as of Monday morning.
Roger Ailes just called. He is a great guy & assures me that “Trump” will be treated fairly on @FoxNews. His word is always good!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 10, 2015
Trump gets to negotiate the interview with the head of the whole operation? He gets to pick and choose who interviews him? Sweet deal. Some war.
I got lulled by Ezra Klein and Nate Silver posts treating this as a war. I did say yesterday that I didn't believe Fox would actually be hostile to Trump, out of fear of alienating his many fans -- Fox would merely "try to deprive Trump of oxygen." Maybe, at the behest of the Trump-averse Rupert Murdoch, that was the plan. But it can't have escaped the attention of Murdoch and Ailes that Trump is all over television, and is presumably getting great ratings for Fox's competitors. So it's time to get some of that ratings action again.
Hot Air's Allahpundit wonders about the alleged war:
Why hasn’t Fox News covered what Trump said about Kelly and blood coming out of her “wherever”? I’ve been told for the past 48 hours that Ailes, Kelly, and the rest of the network are on a mission from Reince Priebus and the RNC to sink his candidacy. Yet they’ve been handed that weapon of a soundbite and haven’t used it. How come?As I say, I think it's because it never was all-out war. Ailes liked Trump and so his heart wasn't in it, and he knew that Trump is always ratings gold for him. (I'm not even sure the nasty questioning on Thursday night was an attempt to blow off Trump -- as I said in the aftermath of the debate, interviews of Republicans by the "serious" Fox on-air personalities often include questions that seem tough and probing, as if Ailes wants to demonstrate which Republicans can take it and which can't. Mitt Romney, famously, couldn't.)
So what's likely to happen if this interview with Hannity comes off? Hannity has to defend Kelly, but he can't be hostile to Trump or it really will be war, declared by Trump. And as Allahpundit argues, Hannity can't hit Trump very hard or his career is at risk:
As one of talk radio’s and Fox’s biggest stars, he’s caught in the middle of the war between Trump defenders on the one hand, which includes some other big radio names, and Trump critics/Fox defenders on the other. It’s unthinkable that he’d go easy on Trump over what he said about his colleague Kelly, but it’s also hard to imagine he’d risk his conservative cred -- for Donald Trump is the avatar of conservatism, my friends -- by hitting Trump too hard either.My guess is that the key exchange will go something like this:
HANNITY: So when you said "blood from her wherever," you didn't mean anything vulgar, right?And that'll be pretty much it.
TRUMP: No, Sean, of course I didn't.
HANNITY: But you do regret the fact that some people took it as offensive?
TRUMP: I don't regret what I said. I regret the fact that it was misconstrued.
This may be the way it goes for a while -- Fox won't be Trump's main venue, but Fox will try to bring Trump in on regular occasions for some highly promotable appointment television. I don't think Ailes can bear losing him to the competition.
UPDATE: So, yes, Ailes is trying to quell a backlash, according to New York magazine's Gabriel Sherman:
Immediately following Thursday's debate, Fox was deluged with pro-Trump emails. The chatter on Twitter was equally in Trump’s favor. “In the beginning, virtually 100-percent of the emails were against Megyn Kelly,” one Fox source, who was briefed on the situation told me. “Roger was not happy. Most of the Fox viewers were taking Trump’s side.”I assume that's "defuse," but there you have it.
Things got worse for Ailes over the weekend. In a phone conversation, Trump told Sean Hannity that “he was never doing Fox again,” according to one person with knowledge of the call. The anti-Kelly emails, and threat of a boycott by Trump, seems to have pushed Ailes to diffuse the war.
UPDATE, from CNN:
Trump has been booked for a 7 a.m. Tuesday interview on "Fox & Friends," co-host Steve Doocy said on Twitter on Monday afternoon.Is he going to attack Fox on Fox? And will his loyal Fox & Friends amen corner feel compelled to agree with him? Stay tuned.
He said Trump will be talking "about his relationship with Fox News."
Trump has been lambasting Fox for days....
And Trump will also be on Sean Hannity's 10 p.m. show on Tuesday.