Trump Says He’ll Skip Fox News Debate

Donald Trump takes his war with Fox News Channel up a notch, saying he won't participate in Thursday's Republican Presidential Debate.

Trump Debate

Donald Trump has been on an on again, off again feud virtually since Trump’s Presidential campaign began. The fight began in earnest in the wake of the first Presidential debate after Trump attacked co-moderator Megyn Kelly in a rather crude fashion over what he claimed were “unfair” questions on Kelly’s part. Trump’s attack on Kelly expanded and led Trump to temporarily at least ban any appearances on Fox News programs on his part, although he has since rescinded that an and appeared on Fox News Sunday and other programs over the past several months. Now, Trump is once again at war with Fox News and Megyn Kelly, and it’s happening just as the candidates get ready for the final pre-Iowa debate.

The latest controversy started last week when Trump started objecting to the fact that Kelly would be participating in the debate in much the same role as she had in the first debate. Fox News responded by essentially trolling Trump and saying that they would be standing behind Kelly notwithstanding Trump’s barrage. Late yesterday, Trump took the dispute up a notch by saying he would not participate in the debate at all:

MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa — Donald J. Trump and Fox News, the candidate who has reordered the Republican presidential race and the cable network of choice for many of the party’s voters, stared each other down on Tuesday over his demand that the news anchor Megyn Kelly be dumped from moderating Thursday’s debate, the last before Monday’s caucuses.

The network did not blink. So Mr. Trump walked.

Mr. Trump’s announcement here that he would “probably,” or would “most likely,” or was “pretty close to” irrevocably planning to skip the debate — an aide put it more directly — created a gaping uncertainty at the center of the Republican nominating contest just as it was formally about to begin in Iowa.

It was the most intense confrontation yet between two mutually dependent but increasingly antagonistic powerhouses of media and politics. Mr. Trump, who has made the presidential race into a riveting television spectacle, was overtly exploiting the ratings leverage his candidacy has created to try to bend Fox News to his will.

“Let’s see how much money Fox is going to make on the debate without me,” he said at a news conference here.

Fox News said Mr. Trump’s refusal to debate his rivals was “near unprecedented.”

“This is rooted in one thing — Megyn Kelly, whom he has viciously attacked since August and has now spent four days demanding be removed from the debate stage,” the network said in a statement.

On her program Tuesday night, Ms. Kelly observed that “what’s interesting here is Trump is not used to not controlling things, as the chief executive of a large organization.”

“But the truth is, he doesn’t get to control the media,” she added.

Mr. Trump’s animus toward Ms. Kelly dates to August, in the first presidential primary debate, when she questioned him about his past comments denigrating women. Afterward, he suggested that Ms. Kelly had been angry at him, so much so that she had blood pouring out of her “wherever” — a remark many saw as a reference to menstruation.

In the months since, Mr. Trump has repeatedly criticized Ms. Kelly as a “third-rate” reporter. And as Thursday’s debate approached, Mr. Trump began disparaging Ms. Kelly as if he were a prizefighter promoting a rematch. He called her dishonest, accused her of bias and a conflict of interest, and said flat-out that he did not like her.

On Monday, Fox News responded to Mr. Trump, tauntingly saying it was “surprised he’s willing to show that much fear” about being questioned by Ms. Kelly. And on Tuesday, after the network’s president, Roger Ailes, declared that Ms. Kelly would “absolutely be on the debate stage,” the network issued yet another taunting statement, this one mocking two of Mr. Trump’s go-to rhetorical crutches.

“We learned from a secret back channel,” the statement said, “that the ayatollah and Putin both intend to treat Donald Trump unfairly when they meet with him if he becomes president — a nefarious source tells us that Trump has his own secret plan to replace the cabinet with his Twitter followers to see if he should even go to those meetings.”

At that, Mr. Trump told Mr. Ailes and his network, effectively, to take a flying leap.

“With me, they’re dealing with somebody that’s a little bit different,” he said of Fox. “They can’t toy with me like they toy with everybody else. So let them have their debate, and let’s see how they do with the ratings.”

(…)

It was not the first time that Mr. Trump, who holds a wide lead in national polls and a slender one in Iowa, has threatened to sit out a debate. At one point he demanded that CNN donate $5 million to aid wounded veterans in return for his participation. His logic then was the same as now: The ratings stem from his presence. But CNN officials declined, essentially calling Mr. Trump’s bluff, and he participated.

This time, though, his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, said there would be no backing down Instead of attending the debate, he said, Mr. Trump would hold a fund-raiser in Iowa for wounded war veterans.

Mr. Lewandowski did not respond to a message asking the chances that his boss would change his mind.

According to some reports, Trump’s announcement that he would not or, depending on how you read his language, might not, participate in the debate set off a flurry of phone calls as various people affiliated with Fox News, including not just Roger Ailes but also Sean Hannity attempted to get in touch with Trump, his campaign manager, Trump’s wife Melania, and his daughter Ivanka. Those efforts were apparently unsuccessful and New York Magazine National Affairs Editor Gabriel Sherman reported last night that Trump is saying that he will only deal directly with Rupert Murdoch, the Chairman of Fox News’s parent company, on a “Chairman to Chairman” level. So far, Murdoch has refrained from getting directly involved in the Fox-Trump feud that has been brewing for the past six months, but as Sherman notes he has taken something more of a direct role in the news operations at FNC as Ailes has recovered from an illness earlier in 2015. There have also been reports in recent years that Murdoch has not been entirely thrilled with the direction that the news network has taken, but refrained from taking Ailes or anyone else to task given the fact that the network’s rating continued to outperform its competitors and revenue continued to rise. Ailes is back at work full time now, but there has been some speculation that Murdoch continues to look over his shoulder, concerned about the future about what is essentially the prize jewel in his media crown. What impact all of that might have on Murdoch’s involvement in this latest controversy is unclear.

Watching this whole dispute from a distance, it’s hard not to think that this is all part of a media stunt on Trump’s part designed to once again shape the media narrative as we head into the final days of campaigning before Iowa. Throughout this campaign, we’ve seen Trump jump on one issue or another that causes a media firestorm, sets the tone for what the media coverage for the ensuing week or more, and inevitably ends up benefiting Trump in the polls. Beyond benefiting Trump in the polls, though, these stunts have also arguably harmed Trump’s opponents by making it harder for them to get their message out to voters and forcing them to spend at least some portion of whatever precious media time they do get responding to Trump’s latest outrage. That’s exactly what’s happening here. The political coverage on CNN and MSNBC is all about Trump skipping the debate and what that means for the debate and the race. Meanwhile, Trump continues to control the narrative and remains at the top of the field heading into Iowa.

As far as this debate goes, it’s hard to see Trump actually following through and skipping the debate at this late date. Notwithstanding the fact that he is leading in the polls, this is the only Republican debate in Iowa and, with just a few days left until the caucuses at this point this was meant to be an opportunity for Iowa voters to see the candidates go one on one up close and personal. Skipping the debate could be seen as some form slap in the face to Iowa voters. While Trump is in a position right now that coming in second in Iowa would not substantially harm Trump’s campaign going forward, a win in Iowa would also put him in a position to run the table on the early primaries so one would think that Trump and Fox will find a way to work out their differences and Trump will figure out a way to spin this story yet again so appearing at the debate ends up being a victory for him notwithstanding the fact that his campaign is saying he definitely won’t appear at the debate. Even if he doesn’t appear, though, Trump’s decision to skip the debate will likely end up working out in his favor since he would still lurk over the debate as the 800lb gorilla in the room. Combined with the fact that ratings for the debate would likely be lower without Trump, Trump’s opponents could again find themselves losing out.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:
  2. C. Clavin says:

    Like all of his other shenanigans…this won’t hurt him with the un-thinking Republican base.
    For the rest of the world it simply shows the moral shortcomings under that comb-over (itself a symptom of a lack of character).
    I seriously think this marks the beginning of the implosion. Fox cannot back-down…and at this point he can’t either. He comes off as a spoiled petulant child (which, having been handed a fortune, he is). The ridicule in store for him leading up to and following the debate will be merciless. And his 2nd grade level twitter rants won’t help him.

  3. bookdragon says:

    I predict that IF he doesn’t find some way to turn up anyway, he’ll keep an eye on the debate and tweet comments on everyone and everything – then brag that his twitter feed got more views than the debate itself.

  4. gVOR08 says:

    @C. Clavin: Hey, give Trump and his comb over a break. What else would you have him do? Show a bald spot or shave his head? Either would expose his patchwork Frankenstein scalp. Of course he could just permanently wear a ‘Make America White Great Again” ballcap, but it would look a little silly at state dinners and debates.

  5. Hal_10000 says:

    Huh. There have been a number of moderators who have asked a number of tough questions but the only one he has trouble with just happens to be a woman asking him about sexism.

    Odd.

  6. Frank Q says:

    So how should his opponents make use of this?

    I say, keep his place at the debate, but keep it empty. The other candidates should make a joke out of that empty podium bit. Frame themselves as not being afraid of criticism and “showing up”.

  7. gVOR08 says:

    @Hal_10000: Well, yeah, but only because

    she had blood pouring out of her “wherever” — a remark many saw as a reference to menstruation.

    And what pray else could it reasonably be taken as a reference to?

    Well, she pretty much asked if he had a problem with women. I think she got her answer.

  8. CSK says:

    The Trumpkins are high-fiving each other over the fact that Trump has just exposed Fox’s liberal agenda, principally embodied by Rupert Murdoch’s plan to flood the country with Third World immigrants.

    I’m serious. That’s what they’re saying.

  9. Scott says:

    Republicans have been beating the other networks around the head so long that the moderators are like beaten spouses who blame themselves. I’m not sure how this incident is much different than the RNC punishing NBC for its perceived slights. Trump is using the same tactics against Fox and they don’t like it. Fox is now a member of the lamestream media.

  10. KM says:

    @CSK:

    Fox’s liberal agenda

    Well, damn, hell just froze over. And me without my skates……

  11. Franklin says:

    From my POV, it seems Trump has put himself in a bad situation here. At this point he’s damned-if-he-does, damned-if-he-doesn’t. I thought he was an expert negotiator?

  12. CSK says:

    @KM:

    Yeah, I know. Fox has a liberal agenda. Who’d have thought it? But, apparently it does, and it took the very courageous Donald Trump, savior of “real Americans,” to expose it.

  13. CB says:

    @CSK:

    I…I just…I don’t even know anymore.

    Is this real life?

  14. Mikey says:

    @Franklin: This would normally be the case, but remember, as far as his followers are concerned he can literally do no wrong. Every move he makes will be seen as unmitigated genius. They will believe he is playing three-dimensional chess while the other candidates merely drool on a checkerboard. Post-reason politics writ large.

  15. Tillman says:

    @gVOR08: The entire context of the remark had him first say “blood coming out of her eyes” and then “blood coming out of her wherever.” The first one is almost certainly a misphrasing of “blood in the eyes,” a cliche for aggressive behavior. I think he screwed up, noticed it, turned his sloppiness into a sexist attack. Possibly didn’t even know he was doing it. Gustopher pointed this out last August while the controversy was still fresh.

    @Frank Q: I dunno, talking to an empty podium might remind people of Clint Eastwood and chairs. If it doesn’t, reporters are sure to remind them the next day.

  16. C. Clavin says:

    @gVOR08:
    A real man would just have a bald spot, or as you say, shave. Trump is just an insecure spoiled little child…which explains his bluster and bullying. I can’t believe there are people in this world that would vote for such a clown to be dog-catcher, much less a position of responsibility.

  17. CSK says:

    @CB:

    Beats me. It does feel like an alternate reality, doesn’t it? No matter how much I tell myself that the defining characteristic of a Trumpkin is irrationality, I’m still confounded by their utter devotion to illogic. They really do seem to believe that Fox for the past five years has been carrying on a dastardly plot to undermine conservatism, and that Donald Trump’s hissy fit somehow exposes that. I give up.

  18. ElizaJane says:

    Enough bad bahaviour and unprofessionalism to go all around here. Fox essentially taunted Trump and then ramped up their mockery when he got annoyed. He stomped off and announced he have his own party so there. Both parties behaving badlly. It’s the year of right-wing regression to childhood.

  19. James Pearce says:

    Things I’d never thought I’d see in my lifetime:

    * The election of a black president
    * The legalization of marijuana
    * The Republican frontrunner engaging in a press war with Fox News

    Interesting times we live in.

    I still can’t find myself coming to support the guy’s candidacy, but I can’t deny that a Republican bucking Fox News so publicly is rather refreshing. I’m half-tempted to say it’s a conspiracy to give Fox some journalistic credibility again, but that’s not what Trump is interested in. He just wants to bring them to heel, and he realizes that they need him waaaaay more than he needs them.

    This is the “tough negotiation” stuff we can expect from a President Trump. It’s cute when billionaires play with their toys. But that style is a poor fit when it comes to international diplomacy.

    Two words for Trump supporters: Caveat emptor.

  20. Tyrell says:

    Trump will get a huge crowd and lots of coverage no matter what he does. I do not recall a candidate getting as much attention as he has. CNN seems to follow his every move and word.
    The local library and bookstore are always out of his books.
    “Whenever Trump talks, people listen”

  21. KM says:

    @Tillman:
    I think it was worse than that – Trump meant the “blood coming out of her eyes” remark as invoking horror tropes a la Cujo. He was attempting to portray her in as a irrational attacker – you know, foaming at the mouth? But he’s incoherent at best so instead of the standard fluid and body part, he got it mixed up with the other metaphor and just… kept talking. He didn’t correct himself, he said what he was thinking.

    “She gets out. Starts asking me all sorts of ridiculous questions you. You can see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever, but she was, in my opinion, she was — off base,”

    So the question is, why the mixup? Freudian slip comes to mind. After all, “foam at the mouth” is a more common expression then “blood in the eye”. This man has no filter whatsoever so his subconscious must be leaking out all over the damn place. A woman who confronts him on his BS is obviously PMS-ing so open mouth, and out comes blood reference.

  22. C. Clavin says:

    I thought he was an expert negotiator?

    Here’s an entertaining piece from Salon that discusses just how childish Trumps view of the world is…and how it clashes with reality.
    http://www.salon.com/2016/01/27/donald_trump_vs_objective_reality_if_the_donald_doesnt_know_a_thing_then_it_must_be_truly_unknowable/
    It’s one thing to see this ignorance in a campaign for the party of stupid…try to imagine for a minute how it would play out if…shudder to think…he actually won the election………..

  23. C. Clavin says:

    Daily Beast sub-title;

    The Art of the Tantrum

  24. CSK says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Thanks for the link to the Salon article; that was very good.

    I’d only add one thing to it, which is that Trump’s fans exist in the same cloud of unknowing as he does. If it’s not an issue for him, it doesn’t exist for them, either.

  25. Moosebreath says:

    If Trump were (somehow) to be elected, and he got into a feud with a leader of a foreign country, is he going to say he won’t show up at, for example, the G-20 summit unless that leader is replaced?

  26. CSK says:

    @Moosebreath:

    Well, first there would be a one-sided Twitter feud in which Trump accused the leader (if female) of being fat, ugly, old, a slob, or a dog. If male, the leader would be a “loser” or a “moron.”

  27. anjin-san says:

    I don’t think that a beautiful, smart woman who won’t kowtow to him is something that Trump is equipped to deal with.

  28. sam says:

    @CSK:

    Fox’s liberal agenda

    What I’ve seen around the webs is that Trump’s folks think Fox is part of the MSM (and National Review, too). Lee Atwater’s chickens have come home to roost.

  29. PJ says:

    Fox News birthed a monster and now it’s a teenager refusing to do what Fox News wants it to do.

    Monsters grow up so fast.

  30. CSK says:

    @anjin-san:

    I suspect very strongly that someone as profoundly insecure as Trump likes his women profoundly stupid.

  31. Pch101 says:

    Trump knows how to work the media and how to win over a crowd. His time on “reality” TV served him well.

    He understands that there is a segment of the populist that enjoys being pissed off and feeling martyred, and he is a master of channeling that zeitgeist. He is equally adept at using his opponents’ energies to his benefit, so complaining about him ala Salon only helps him.

    Not that I would expect him to win (and I will certainly vote against his party, regardless), but I would be inclined to favor him if was a two-horse universe between Trump and someone such as Cruz because the latter candidate seems to believe his own BS, while Trump is more of a cynic who is just telling his goofball supporters what they want to hear.

  32. cian says:

    Here’s a wild prediction- Murdoch steps in (chairman to chairman) and sorts it out. This allows him (Murdoch) to begin the long awaited heave against Ailes. This would be a problem if Fox was a news organisation with real journalists running it. But it’s not, it’s a propaganda tool for sale to the highest right wing bidder. If the station wants to stay relevant to the crazies then it has to embrace Trump. Simple as.

  33. Tillman says:

    @KM: “Blood in the eye” is better rendered as “they had blood in their eyes” or “they were out for blood.” He used the same expression later when describing Chris Wallace at the debate, which is why I don’t think he intended menstruation when he said it. What he did is try to Trump it up a bit and exaggerate, hence “pouring” out of the eyes. “Foaming at the mouth” would have been the more apropos imagery, sure, but we’re dealing with Trump dealing with rubes.

    Which doesn’t matter because it is (or was?) a common cliche that an irrationally aggressive woman is PMSing. I honestly don’t want to give Trump credit for a sexist double entendre on purpose, but given his ability to improvise he probably just ran with it.

  34. J-Dub says:

    Let’s face it, a cardboard cutout at center stage would provide as much of a detailed policy discussion as the real thing.

  35. Tyrell says:

    @Tillman: This is very similar to “sweating blood”.

  36. C. Clavin says:

    @J-Dub:

    as much of a detailed policy discussion

    Republicans and Trump and policy….you crack me up!!!

  37. Neil Hudelson says:

    Everyone predicting that Trump is between a rock and a hard place sounds an awful lot like the people (myself included) predicting his imminent fall in the first 3 months of his campaign.

    I think we may have entered a critical mass/critical momentum/critical stupidity/critical hate zone wherein it does not matter one little bit what Trump does or says, the pitchfork and torch brigade is going to have their candidate, morality and logic be damned.

  38. Franklin says:

    @Mikey (and Neil, too): True. BUT, at some point he needs more voters than just his current deluded followers. When Jeb and Carly and Kasich and whoever else bow out, I have a hard time believing their followers will go to the guy who is either A) afraid of Megyn Kelly, or B) wasn’t really serious when he got his panties in a twist over her.

    P.S. But yes, I was completely wrong when I thought he’d be long gone by now.

  39. DrDaveT says:

    @bookdragon:

    I predict that IF he doesn’t find some way to turn up anyway, he’ll keep an eye on the debate and tweet comments on everyone and everything – then brag that his twitter feed got more views than the debate itself.

    It’s not clear to me that this isn’t his best strategy anyway.

    Trump’s weakest moments have mostly been during debates. Debates make him look like he’s on some kind of equal footing with the other candidates. Having the brass castanets to tell Fox News (and the Republican Party) that he’s so far ahead of the crowd, and so self-sufficient in his popularity, that if he doesn’t show up for a debate that debate is pointless, is… the first thing I’ve seen him do that actually might be brilliant negotiating.

    (Piling on sarcastic tweets against candidates who have no way to talk back makes it that much tastier.)

  40. Jc says:

    I don’t think Trump wants to be President. He is trying to do things to avoid it, yet people love him more for it…I don’t get it. I’ll bet he backs out come nomination time or something before then. Count me as one who still does not believe he is serious about it all.

  41. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Neil Hudelson: You really should meander over to Scott Adams’ blog. He’s got a hell of a different take on this, and it’s a hell of a lot more consistent with what’s happening than the idiots here.

    Here’s a spoiler:

    Now let’s say you are Donald Trump, the scariest Republican that any Democrat has seen in ages. What is the one best thing he can do to separate himself from the Republican machine and show that he can be a deal-maker for everyone? Answer: Punch FOX News in the mouth. Right in front of you.

    Democrats are watching. Trump is framing himself as an enemy of their enemy. (Democrats hate FOX News.)

  42. PJ says:

    @Jenos Idanian:
    Donald Trump is paid by Bill Clinton to tank the Republican primaries and deliver an opponent to his wife that she’ll be able to run all over.
    And you’re just another idiot falling for it.

    I’ll remember to bring this up on November 9th.

  43. Jenos Idanian says:

    @PJ: That’s one theory. There’s a related theory that Trump took the offer from the Clintons, then decided that he really could take it all.

    And one minor correction: I haven’t “fallen for” anything. I’m still withholding judgment and deciding who I’ll vote until the actual day I vote. But it’s been tremendously entertaining to watch the idiots here pronounce Trump has finally doomed himself, over and over again, while he keeps doing better and better.

    Right now I’m torn between voting for Trump, to help make heads explode around here, and voting for Sanders, to help sink Hillary (so she’ll have more time for her legal defense). And those are only my whimsical options…

    Or I could embrace my inner White Supremacist and vote for either Rubio or Cruz.

  44. Mikey says:

    @Franklin:

    When Jeb and Carly and Kasich and whoever else bow out, I have a hard time believing their followers will go to the guy who is either A) afraid of Megyn Kelly, or B) wasn’t really serious when he got his panties in a twist over her.

    If he gets the nomination they’ll all rally behind him. Noses will be held and levers pulled/buttons pushed/bubbles filled.

  45. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    Everything else you’ve posted by Adams has been some of the most asinine analysis I’ve ever read, only slightly less embarrassing than your fan-boying over it. Why would I think the link you just provided would be any better? I was unimpressed the first 5 or 6 times. I’ll pass.

  46. Tillman says:

    @Tyrell: Superficially. The idiom there is a stand-in for being very tense, or to express making a great effort. Having “blood in the eyes” is to be angry.

    @Jenos Idanian: Exactly how is Adams more consistent than the commenters here? He’s saying the exact same thing:

    Let’s shift to the third dimension and see if the view is different. For starters, tell me what you learned about all the other candidates today.

    Nothing?

    Trump sucked the oxygen out of the room. Again. And the issue – as always – is something we can jabber about forever. It is jabber-ready by design, so the media and the public will have no time and no brain cycles left to consider his competition.

    Commenters here have noted Trump drawing oxygen out of the room for the other candidates for months now. Jeb was the obvious first victim. Hell, we’ve gone one further step than this and noted how much other candidates have had to become more Trump-like (read: go further right) just to keep breathing. Try harder.

  47. PJ says:

    @Jenos Idanian:
    I’ve never doomed Trump, why would I?
    Considering what we have seen Republican primary voters do the last couple of GOP Presidential primaries, this is quite logical.
    I’d assume that the next step will be for them to nominate Cruz to run against President Clinton in 2020.

  48. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    Right now I’m torn between voting for Trump, to help make heads explode around here

    It’s funny you believe we don’t already think you’ll vote that way. Or that we care. Or that your vote would make a difference when he’s running 15 points ahead of all rivals.

    and voting for Sanders, to help sink Hillary

    Again, see the 15 point lead.

    I suppose it’s unsurprising that you base your vote not on any sort of political belief or a sense of moral correctness. No, you base your vote on whom you think it will personally piss off more.

  49. PJ says:

    Also, for the record, I don’t believe that Trump is paid by the Clintons. But after the November election, I can promise that it will be the most popular explanation among those who supported Trump to explain his loss. All to fuel even more Clinton hatred. Which is why, Republican primary voters will go even more insane in 2020 and nominate Cruz.

    Also looking forward to hearing Mutt Williams shrieking that Trump was paid by the Clintons. It will happen.

  50. grumpy realist says:

    Good article in the New Yorker.

    What this all shows me is that given a chance, it makes no difference whether we’re Republican or Democratic. We’ll ALL gawk at the 150-car pile-up

  51. wr says:

    @Jenos Idanian: “Right now I’m torn between voting for Trump, to help make heads explode around here”

    Since everyone here thinks you’re a moron and a troll, why would our heads explode if you voted for a much more successfull troll? And more to the point, why would anyone care who you voted for, or who you claimed to vote for?

    There is an astonishing disconnect between how much of a damn people here care about you and how much you think we do.

    And before you get into your bizarre little “I live rent free in your heads — just like in Mommy’s house!” rant — you occupy exactly the mental energy it requires to slap you down here, and then only when you’re being a pest.

  52. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Piling on sarcastic tweets against candidates who have no way to talk back makes it that much tastier.

    I don’t know. From what I’ve seen, the twitter verse is rather fast reacting, vicious, and shark like when a buffoon like Trump says the wrong thing. Won’t hurt him with the 37% of Republicans that are his fans, but the last I checked, 37% of Republicans in an election equals “Loser”.

  53. grumpy realist says:

    Charles Pierce’s take on the matter:

    I looked away from the campaign for a second on Tuesday and, as de Tocqueville once wrote to Thomas Paine, the hamster fell completely off the wheel. First, MSNBC calls shenanigans on the Democratic National Committee and muses about holding an underground debate in New Hampshire with the three Democratic candidates. That was merely the appetizer, however. In Iowa, He, Trump announced that Megyn Kelly was one thing up with which he would not put, and announced that he and Roger Ailes had broken up again, and that he would not be gracing the Fox News debate stage on Thursday night.

    I predict that in the future, “the hamster fell off the wheel” will enter the lexicon much in the same way “jumping the shark” has.

  54. EddieInCA says:

    @cian:

    Fox News makes WAY too much money for Newscorp for Murdoch to do anything to Ailes. Ailes will be there for as long as he wants to be.

    Fox News is what keeps The WSJ and Dow Jones in business. Both of those lose money for News Corp, and their revenues keep declining. Fox News, however, keeps spitting out cash for News Corp.

  55. Pete S says:

    I think this might be Trump’s first effort to think about a general election. He has to know that if he gets on stage with Kelly he comes out looking bad – either he looks “weak” and hurts himself with his own supporters, or acts like a misogynist jackass and hurts himself with voters he needs down the road. When Fox called his bluff this became his best play.

  56. al-Ameda says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    I think we may have entered a critical mass/critical momentum/critical stupidity/critical hate zone wherein it does not matter one little bit what Trump does or says, the pitchfork and torch brigade is going to have their candidate, morality and logic be damned.

    This ….
    In an A-D-D infotainment, celebrity-obsessed culture like ours, it’s only a matter of time – and maybe it’s now – before the “system” offers up a slimy, greasy, ‘celebrity’ mess like Trump.

    And to think that all of this was birthed by Obama’s humorous remarks that were at the expense of a humorless narcissist, Donald Trump.

  57. C. Clavin says:

    @Jenos Idanian:
    There’s not one person on this website who doesn’t know you will vote for Trump. You are the exact sort he appeals to; no-information voters who are more concerned with their emotions than reality.

  58. C. Clavin says:

    @grumpy realist:
    Thank you for

    “the hampster fell off the wheel”

    .
    Substitute Jack, Jenos, JKB, Guarneri, or whoever else reminds you of a hamster at any given moment.

  59. Joe Gage says:

    I’m curious how much Money Trump has actually spent on campaign ads. Seems like the media is saving him a ton of $$ with all this free press. The guy dominates the news cycle every day which I’m sure someone like Jeb would trade his campaigns millions for in a second.

    Nate Silver was right in labeling him the worlds greatest troll as he’s only beaten by such luminaries as Lamar Odom and Caitlyn Jenner when it comes to popular google searches in 2015. Perhaps the media should tone down its lust for sound bytes from Trump if they would like to see his campaign fade away. The American public does have a short attention span!

  60. David M says:

    @C. Clavin:

    I think the correct term is mis-informed voter, rather than uninformed voter. Slight difference, but it matters for the GOP and Trump.

  61. C. Clavin says:

    @David M:
    Jenos is uninformed.

  62. grumpy realist says:

    @Joe Gage: That’s exactly what the present Trump hissy fit is. All the attention will be on Trump and “will he or won’t he show up”, and BOOM, there’s another three days that he’s sucked all the air out of the room.

    I’d almost love for Trump to get elected just to finally put an end to the carnival-barker grifting juggernaut of a mess the whole political circus has turned into. Trump may thump his chest as much as he wants about being a YUUUUGE negotiator–that’s still going to do jack squat for him when his limo goes over a bridge that hasn’t been fixed in 70 years and the supports finally collapse. He’s going to have to shut his mouth, deal with reality, and actually start working for once in his life.

  63. CSK says:

    @Pete S:

    Trust me, Pete, there is absolutely NOTHING Trump could do at this point to alienate his hardcore fans. Nothing. He could take that gun and not only shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue, but rape and torture a pack of Brownie Scouts before shooting them. That’s how profound the obsession is. He could stand on the podium and blow saliva bubbles for two hours and it wouldn’t matter.Those people are the former Palinistas, only now they’re ten times as enraged and ten times as crazed since they were “cheated” out of Palin.

    If he’s the nominee, and he loses bigtime, which he will, they’ll blame it on the machinations of The Evil Karl Rove, Paul Ryan, and Mitch McConnell, who are secretly in league with Clinton and Obama to turn the U.S. into a socialist dictatorship. That’s what they believe.

    When you’re trying to analyze a Trumpkin, do not apply the usual yardsticks for rational behavior.

  64. David M says:

    @C. Clavin:

    American citizens with incorrect information can be divided into two groups, the misinformed and the uninformed. The difference between the two is stark. Uninformed citizens don’t have any information at all, while those who are misinformed have information that conflicts with the best evidence and expert opinion. As Kuklinski and his colleagues established, in the U.S., the most misinformed citizens tend to be the most confident in their views and are also the strongest partisans.

    http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/trump-supporters-appear-to-be-misinformed-not-uninformed/

    There really is a difference between uninformed and misinformed. Uninformed might have seen a headline about Hillary Clinton and email, but misinformed has been over to HotAir and RedState to read how she should have been indicted already for passing secrets to the Iranians.

  65. Joe Gage says:

    @grumpy realist:

    I haven’t even gone that far in mind to imagine a Trump presidency but its probably less frightening than Ted Cruz as president. If I had to guess, I would say he would be pretty moderate and try to fill his cabinet with some well qualified folks. I agree with you in that I think he’d be more interested in the perks and prestige than actually governing and would probably get bored quickly. The realities of getting things done in DC would also set in pretty quickly.

    It is interesting to note that the betting sites now have him as Even Money in winning the nomination. Cruz has fallen to 6.1 while Rubio is +250 which is perhaps why he feels no need for the Fox debate. You also have Karl Rove in this “independent” type of Super Pac who has the ability to influence things. Right now, the PAC is dedicated to destroying Hillary in Iowa, but might throw its weight elsewhere.

  66. charon says:

    @Pete S:

    either he looks “weak” and hurts himself with his own supporters,

    The internet is forever, and so are video clips. How does he not look weak in clips complaining about unfair questions from Megyn Kelly? These would seem to be great hooks for attack ads in a general election, should he get there, pointing out his cowardice.

    Not all of his support comes from people firmly attached to the GOP, either – some look a lot like the Ross Perot voters. Check this out …

    http://www.nationaljournal.com/s/74221/return-middle-american-radical?mref=home

  67. C. Clavin says:
  68. CSK says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Are you surprised? That’s the way these people roll.

    They sound just like Trump when he talks about women. They’ve merged their identities with his. He’s them; they’re him.

  69. C. Clavin says:

    @David M:
    What we need to describe people like Jenos and Jack is another level of mis-informed. Simply the word mis-informed alone doesn’t begin to capture the situation. Tragically mis-informed. Pathetically mis-informed. The blithely grifted.

  70. Pete S says:

    @CSK: I do see what you are saying and I pretty much agree with you. But I think it is very risky for him to actually answer any questions of hers in a thoughtful polite way. I think that could get his supporters thinking that he has sold out too. That is what I meant by appearing “weak” – his supporters could turn on him if he is not gratuitously offensive to Megyn Kelly tomorrow. There is no upside for Donald Trump to appear on stage.

  71. grumpy realist says:

    @Joe Gage: God yes. Trump may be a smelly buffoon, but Cruz is like Savonarola. But without the charisma.

  72. grumpy realist says:
  73. C. Clavin says:

    @grumpy realist:
    yes…I’ve been hearing for a while that they had become fat and happy.

  74. Electroman says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    And one minor correction: I haven’t “fallen for” anything

    That’s not a “minor correction” – it is a “baseless assertion”.

  75. Joe Gage says:

    @grumpy realist:

    I wouldn’t be concerned with Cruz. Hard for anyone to win with so many enemies wishing you the worst.

    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/01/ted-cruz-jerk-hated

  76. grumpy realist says:

    @Joe Gage: Cruz reminds me of the comment the late, great Steve Gilliard said about Giuliani: “There’s won’t be room in his flesh for all the dirks, axes, and hatchets that are going to be heaved at him”

    Cruz has negative charisma, from all the reports. Which is a really, really bad thing if you’re trying to convince people to vote for you.

  77. Joe Gage says:

    @grumpy realist:

    That’s a great quote on Rudy. A friend of mine worked at his law firm Bracewell & Giuliani around 2008 when he was the GOP “front runner” for 5 minutes. He was in full campaign mode, smiling saying hello to every person he encountered in the office. Two years later, my friend told me he tried to strike up a conversation with him in the elevator and Giuliani just ignored him the whole ride. Just another phony bastard whose managed to ride a tragedy to millions in his pocket off consulting gigs. Remember his pal Bernie Kerik? That clown almost managed to be Head of Homeland Security.

  78. C. Clavin says:

    You know…Trump is actually right about some things.
    He called Iraq a stupid thing, and called out JEB! for saying Bush43 kept us safe when 9.11 happened on his watch. Other Republicans are still busy defending the biggest blunder in our Foreign Policy history.
    And now he is saying that Medicare should negotiate drug prices with Big Pharma…which Republicans, for some idiotic reason probably having to do with a black President, don’t want to.
    These things don’t excuse the rest of the buffoonery…but no one is perfect…not even a perfect buffoon.

  79. grumpy realist says:

    The NYT analysis.

    Basically, Trump bailed because he couldn’t control what would happen.

  80. the Q says:

    I think the bigger issue here is being missed. Ailes is a supporter of Trump and Murdock loathes him. FOX was a yyuuuggee backer of Trump via Ailes cheerleading. Murdock and Ailes are having issues and the boss put his foot down much to Ailes displeasure, hence, Trumps mano a mano one Chairman to another request for a summit.

    Lets go to the videotape of the first debate where Murdocks surrogates came at him with daggers which Trump was not expecting.

    The first question was designed to embarrass Trump in front of a national audience of Republicans. Bret Baier began the debate by asking, “Is there anyone on stage, and can I see hands, who is unwilling tonight to pledge your support to the eventual nominee of the Republican party and pledge to not run an independent campaign against that person?”

    Trump had already made clear that he wouldn’t take that pledge. But Fox News began the debate by making sure every Republican in the country knew Trump wouldn’t take that pledge. It was a question designed to embarrass him, and Baier kept turning the screws.

    “Experts say an independent run would almost certainly hand the race over to Democrats and likely another Clinton,” Baier told Trump. “You can’t say tonight that you can make that pledge?”

    Megyn Kelly’s first question for Trump exposed his rampant misogyny in front of a national audience. “You’ve called women you don’t like ‘fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals,'” she began.

    Trump, of course, interrupted. “Only Rosie O’Donnell,” he said with a smile.

    Kelly wasn’t having it. “For the record, it was well beyond Rosie O’Donnell,” she replied. “You once told a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees. Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man we should elect as president, and how will you answer the charge from Hillary Clinton, who is likely to be the Democratic nominee, that you are part of the war on women?”

    Then this from Chris Wallace: “Mr. Trump, it has not escaped anybody’s notice that you say that the Mexican government, the Mexican government is sending criminals – rapists, drug dealers, across the border. … You have repeatedly said that you have evidence that the Mexican government is doing this, but you have refused or declined to share that evidence. Why not use this first Republican presidential debate to share your proof with the American people?”

    The Donald did not like the ambush and he carries a grudge like few others, ergo the wonderful internecine GOP warfare.

    FOX IS out to get Trump because Murdoch dislikes him and he pays Ailes salary.

  81. CSK says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Cruz is like Savonarola? I was thinking more Uriah Heep.

  82. grumpy realist says:

    I guffawed when I saw this (from the commentator feed at the WP)

    Trump agenda
    My struggle,
    step one: flee from brainy females trying to hold me accountable for my own words
    step two: invade Poland…

  83. CSK says:

    @C. Clavin:

    The Trumpkins have already come up with an explanation for all the ugly Tweets Kelly is receiving: It’s people from Fox doing the Tweeting, under orders from Roger Ailes, to make Trump look bad.

    Yeah, yeah, I know.

  84. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @C. Clavin:

    And now he is saying that Medicare should negotiate drug prices with Big Pharma…which Republicans, for some idiotic reason probably having to do with a black President, don’t want to.

    I suspect it has a lot more to do with campaign donations.

    @grumpy realist: Let me simplify that for you: Trump is a pu$$y MF’er who can’t handle anything that doesn’t feed his ego. Or just, Trump is a pu$$y.

  85. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Franklin: Something that he forgot, but was a piece of advice I got from a former manager I worked for.

    “When confronted with an “or else” position from someone, always pick “else” even if you’d rather not.”

  86. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @sam: I just heard Newt Gingrich asserting essentially the same thing on Hannity’s radio show earlier today. I wasn’t sure about whether he was simply pandering to the simplemindedness of his host or he actually believed it, though.

  87. grumpy realist says:

    Looks like there might be some insider Ailes-Murdoch catfighting going on as well.

    I’m now following this with morbid curiosity.

  88. Moosebreath says:

    @the Q:

    Not that I think any of these constitute questions which were out-of-bounds (and none of them were even close to as pointed as the first question posed to Hillary in the Democratic debates), but Trump seemed to have no problem with Baier and Wallace after that debate, only Kelly. And he has kept after her and her alone in the months since then. Why should that be?

  89. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Jenos Idanian: Your inner white supremacist–you have another one that you keep hidden? Why?

  90. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Neil Hudelson: Maybe Jenos has the same sort of object permanence issue that Trump has–when he’s away from here, he has no notion that we haven’t noticed and are still not caring about what he thinks.

  91. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @grumpy realist: Actually, I expect that Trump would be pretty good at handling problems related to the nation’s infrastructure. I don’t think he would handle them, understand, but his inaction would not be based on lack of ability to act.

  92. Pch101 says:

    @David M:

    That reminds me of an earlier study that found that Fox News viewers were less informed about current events than those who didn’t watch the news at all.

    http://publicmind.fdu.edu/2011/knowless/

  93. Pch101 says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    I’m torn between voting for Trump, to help make heads explode around here, and voting for Sanders, to help sink Hillary (so she’ll have more time for her legal defense)./blockquote>

    You have to be at least 18 to vote, so you’ll have to sit this one out.

  94. DrDaveT says:

    @Pch101: Of course, that study totally failed to account for selection bias. The number one characteristic of people who watch The Daily Show is that they are the kind of people who find The Daily Show entertaining. This is, as my economist colleagues would say, endogenous to knowing what the hell is going on in the world.

  95. An Interested Party says:

    But it’s been tremendously entertaining to watch the idiots here pronounce Trump has finally doomed himself, over and over again, while he keeps doing better and better.

    Actually, what Trump will doom will be the GOP if he gets the nomination…so please do vote for him and tell everyone you know to vote for him too…it is so delicious that this man you seem to admire so much will guarantee that the woman you hate so much will become our next president…

  96. jd says:

    I don’t think Trump ever intended to participate in this debate. He needs an excuse if he doesn’t come in first in Iowa. This is it.

  97. anjin-san says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    I’m torn between voting for Trump, to help make heads explode around here

    Want to make heads explode on OTB? Go a week without serving up any jumbo helpings of insipid drivel…

  98. anjin-san says:

    @David M:

    There really is a difference between uninformed and misinformed. Uninformed might have seen a headline about Hillary Clinton and email, but misinformed has been over to HotAir and RedState to read how she should have been indicted already for passing secrets to the Iranians.

    Spot on. The real problem with the right is not low-information voters, it’s bad information voters. Most of what passes for political thinking in today’s conservative movement is based on facts that are not facts and is so simplistic it can easily be covered with a Facebook graphic.

  99. Gustopher says:

    Failing to provide a spectacle might be what causes Trump to implode. If all you ever do is talk about how great you are, without ever doing anything great, and that is somehow working, then being quiet has got to be a mistake.

    Nothing else has hurt him, but walking away isn’t really the combative Trump who sticks to his guns, and says what he thinks and doesn’t take anything from anyone. Walking away shows that he’s weak, and that Fox won’t back down to him.

    His supporters want someone who shows up and kicks ass. Someone who can face down Megan Kelly and put her in her place. Or put someone in their place.

  100. Mikey says:

    @Gustopher:

    Nothing else has hurt him, but walking away isn’t really the combative Trump who sticks to his guns, and says what he thinks and doesn’t take anything from anyone. Walking away shows that he’s weak, and that Fox won’t back down to him.

    I can absolutely, positively, 110% and without reservation guarantee to you his supporters do not see it this way. They see it as a 3-D-Chess masterstroke, as The Legend denying His Glorious Presence to the sabotaging pseudo-conservatives at Fox News and especially that bloody bitch Megyn Kelly. He’s not backing down, he’s not walking away, he’s asserting dominance by showing who’s In Charge.

  101. SC_Birdflyte says:

    I found it both entertaining and amusing to read Michael Mukasey’s screed in the WSJ declaring Hillary unqualified to be President on the grounds of disobeying some obscure points of law. This from a guy who, when he was the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, couldn’t have discovered official wrongdoing if you gave him the Hubble Telescope to search for it.

  102. Mikey says:

    Josh Marshall absolutely nails it. Absolutely. Nails. It.

    The Triumph of the Will

    In the present context I would put it like this: Pundits and political obsessives tend to get distracted by process and policy literalism. But politics generally and especially intra-Republican political battles are really about demonstrating dominance – not policy mastery or polling leads but a series of symbols and actions that mark the dominating from the dominated…

    …Policy details, protecting the candidate through careful press releases and structured media opportunities … none of that matters. Trump doesn’t kiss babies. Babies kiss him. He doesn’t have a billionaire backer; he is a billionaire. Trump doesn’t ask for support. He just tells you that you need to stop being a loser and get on board.

    So this debate power play is all of a piece. He can just take the table, flip it over and walk out of the room. It’s all about him…

    …Trump doesn’t follow rules. Rules follow Trump.

  103. grumpy realist says:

    @Mikey: Damn, that’s a good analysis. And boy does it strike home.

    The question is what the clueless (i.e., the rest of the candidates) are going to do about it?

  104. charon says:

    @Mikey:

    I can absolutely, positively, 110% and without reservation guarantee to you his supporters do not see it this way. They see it as a 3-D-Chess masterstroke, as The Legend denying His Glorious Presence to the sabotaging pseudo-conservatives at Fox News and especially that bloody bitch Megyn Kelly. He’s not backing down, he’s not walking away, he’s asserting dominance by showing who’s In Charge.

    Of course people who are already emotionally invested in the guy will stick with him, probably even get more enthusiastic. A lot of other people will take this as a sign he is a big chicken. If not in the GOP, maybe, but when the attack ads air in the general election.

  105. charon says:

    I found this interesting in the Josh Marshall piece at TPM, given Trump’s history with WWE wrestling:

    . There’s not even any there there in Trump’s supposed ‘feud’ with Megyn Kelly. It has all the emotive credibility of a professional wrestling rivalry.

  106. Moosebreath says:

    @Mikey:

    Or What Digby Said:

    “For these people, the action is the juice. And Trump is telling them that nobody, not even Roger Ailes, scares him.

    [snip]

    Trump’s “act of courage” is showing that yet another major conservative institution is not all-powerful after all. If he succeeds in making tonight’s debate an undercard event simply by refusing to participate will Fox ever be taken as seriously by conservative voters — and Republican politicians — again?”

  107. gVOR08 says:

    @Mikey: Good analysis. But how did a milquetoast like Romney get nominated? Oh wait, the competition for lead dog was Santorum, Gingrich and Paul the Elder. Never mind. Answered my own question.

  108. charon says:

    @Moosebreath:

    If he succeeds in making tonight’s debate an undercard event simply by refusing to participate will Fox ever be taken as seriously by conservative voters — and Republican politicians — again?”

    How does this whole thing play if Trump fails to win Iowa?

    http://goplifer.com/2016/01/27/mind-the-gap-in-iowa/

  109. DrDaveT says:

    @charon:

    How does this whole thing play if Trump fails to win Iowa?

    At a guess? The Donald dismisses the Iowa Caucus participants as lickspittle lapdogs of the vested GOP establishment, and he tells the rest of the world that he doesn’t need those particular Iowans any more than he needs Fox News. Real Iowans(tm) are flocking to him by the thousands, but the contrived nature of the Caucuses obscures that.