In the liberal lion’s den that is the broadcast media landscape, Fox News typically has been a relatively welcoming environment for conservatives, the recent Fox-hosted Republican debate notwithstanding. So Donald Trump’s dustups with Fox News have always carried a note of irony, even given the candidate’s propensity for dustups in general.
Today, Trump made his boldest move yet regarding Fox, announcing he will boycott the “Fair and Balanced” network altogether “for the foreseeable future.” The implication in Trump’s announcement is that he feels the rest of the networks — including the likes of NBC and CNN, arguably far more left-leaning — treat him more fairly, and he is more comfortable there.
Via CNN Money:“Fox News has been treating me very unfairly & I have therefore decided that I won’t be doing any more Fox shows for the foreseeable future,” he wrote on Twitter.
Trump’s announcement came after a series of recent tweets criticizing the network’s coverage: “I am having a really hard time watching Fox News,” he had tweeted Monday. Trump also claimed that Fox’s “O’Reilly Factor” had been “very negative to me,” and suggested that his guests were all “Trump haters.”
Trump had previously threatened to boycott Fox News in the wake of the first Republican primary debate six weeks ago on the grounds that the network’s moderators — particularly Megyn Kelly — had been unfair to him. The two parties reached detente after Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes called Trump to assure him that he would be treated fairly.But the truce was an exceedingly fragile one — and now it’s over.
Trump resumed his critique of Kelly on Monday night: “She is the worst – all anti-Trump!” Trump tweeted during her program. “Terrible show.”Spokespeople from Trump’s office and Fox News did not immediately respond to requests for comment, and Trump has yet to specify exactly what he objects to in the network’s coverage.
So, without further comment from the candidate himself or his spokespeople, what should we read into Trump’s latest announcement? Can Trump really genuinely feel the liberal networks are treating him more “fairly” than Fox — or is Trump disappointed that he’s not getting more of a “pass” from the network supposedly in the tank for conservatives?
Perhaps Trump’s announcement to boycott Fox News is actually a sign that Trump sees his campaign faltering — for the first time since his meteoric rise — and is looking for ways to reignite that initial spark. After a relatively subdued performance in last week’s GOP debate, Trump is down 8 points in the latest CNN/ORC national poll. Meanwhile, rivals like Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson continue to rise and command more and more media attention.
Indeed, a Fox News sources argued Trump was antagonizing Fox in order to create controversy and draw attention to himself because of his decline in the polls.
Trump’s latest move also refocuses the conversation around him on the media — rather than on substantive issues facing the nation, like Iran, ISIS, the economy, immigration and more. Yet it’s precisely their substance on such topics that seems to be propelling Fiorina, Carson and Rubio up in the polls.
For Fox News, the boycott means it will be cut off from the Trump ratings machine, which is proven to boost ratings for any network. By the same token, Trump will miss out on access to the millions of viewers who tune into Fox News every night for coverage of the 2016 race.
Is Trump cutting off his nose to spite his face? In the words of Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, what say you?
[Note: This article was written by Michelle Jesse, Associate Editor]