The Cynical Reason Fox News Chose Trump Over Megyn Kelly
After last Thursday's GOP debate, Fox News chairman Roger Ailes was caught in the middle of an all-out battle on the right. GOP front-runner Donald Trump had harshly criticized one of Fox News' biggest stars, Megyn Kelly, with a barrage of sexist comments. Meanwhile Ailes, according to a recent report in New York Magazine, was inundated with angry emails and tweets from Trump fans. Fox News viewers overwhelmingly like Trump. In fact, last week's GOP debate drove up Fox ratings to a 12-year high, likely because of Trump's participation. Attacks on The Donald would no doubt undermine Fox News' bottom line and upset its notoriously rabid fan base. So what to do?
Throw Kelly under the bus, of course. As New York Magazine details in a new report:
But that process has meant that Fox has had to mute its defense of Kelly, who is now watching uneasily as the Fox audience turns on her: According to one high-level source, Kelly has told Fox producers that she’s been getting death threats from Trump supporters.
So Ailes did little to defend Kelly, who is one of Fox's most bankable stars, even though Fox News' PR goon squad is notoriously aggressive. Although Fox routinely goes after anyone who attacks its brand or major stars, in Kelly's case, all she got were private words of encouragement, according to the report. Her producer, Tom Lowell, sent out an email thanking "colleagues" "for their support in recent days" though this support, according to New York Magazine, was entirely off the record in nature.
Ratings are likely not the only reason. Fox News is notoriously sexist, and while we can never know for sure, the fact that Kelly is a confident woman and Trump is a bloviating macho-man may have helped add to Kelly's poor treatment.
Meanwhile, Trump is back on Fox. The Donald did a breezy morning interview yesterday morning with Fox and Friends and promised to "release policy details" soon.