Donald Trump. (Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press)
Media critic

In what can only be a calamity for the folks at “Fox & Friends,” Donald Trump today signaled via Twitter that he’s not going on the network:

It’s unclear to what Trump is referring when he mentions the unfair treatment of the leading cable news network. What is clear is that the candidate on Monday night zipped off some absurd complaints about coverage of his candidacy on “The O’Reilly Factor.” Have a look:

As we’ve noted, those complaints carried the usual Trump trifecta of baselessness, thin-skinnedness and narcissism. This back-and-forth between Trump and Fox News is entering another round — perhaps its third or fourth. It all started after Fox News host Megyn Kelly on Aug. 6 asked Trump an excellent question about his history of misogyny at the network’s touted Republican presidential debate. Trump went on the offensive, going so far as to suggest the following in a CNN interview: “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her wherever.”

A truce was struck. Then it was broken later in August, when Trump couldn’t stop himself from attacking Kelly after she’d returned from a vacation. This, from the guy who boasts of his refined temperament. In any case, Fox News chief issued a statement blasting Trump for the social-media outburst.

Since then, the two sides appeared to settle back into a groove. Just moments before he slammed the “The O’Reilly Factor” the other night on Twitter, for example, Trump was being interviewed by Fox News host Greta Van Susteren on her show “On the Record.”

Now we’re back to the nonsense.

For a change, the Erik Wemple Blog feels bad for the folks on cable news’ very worst program, “Fox & Friends.” Every Monday morning for several years before Trump announced his candidacy, the show’s co-hosts — the latest team is Steve Doocy, Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Brian Kilmeade — would caress the mogul with nice questions and a great deal of precious PR. Though the regular gig went away once Trump became a presidential candidate, “Fox & Friends” has still managed to secure occasional chats with the Republican front-runner. Just this past Monday, for example, “Fox & Friends” did a phoner with Trump that allowed him to mount an unchallenged defense over his failure last week to fact-check a man at a rally who’d alleged that President Obama was a Muslim.

Questions:

  • “There’s a bit of good news for you today, a couple of polls out . . . the headline here is that [Ben] Carson has faded a bit since the debate on Thursday and [Carly] Fiorina is going up. Why do you think that is?” asked Doocy, neglecting to mention that Trump had faded in Monday’s CNN poll.
  • Could you “emotionally” handle a drop in the polls? asked Kilmeade.
  • “Can Dr. Ben Carson recover from [his] statement” about Muslims and the White House? asked Hasselbeck.
  • “Regarding that [Muslim] question, shortly after Joe the Plumber asked that question of Barack Obama, everyone in the world knew who Joe the Plumber was, and they went completely through his background. Some people, I’m reading online, think that that guy may have been a plant to ask that question because then he just got the heck out of there. Do you know anything about that guy?”
  • “It was 100 degrees out at the Emmys — 106 under some of the interview tenting. . . . The only thing hotter than that at the Emmys was you. Watch this montage of the celebrities just having a Donald Trump-fest,” said Hasselbeck before showing the clips.
  • “Okay, so Donald Trump, do you think the president of the United States is going to stand and defend your character after Hollywood let you have it last night?” asked Doocy, apparently drawing some equivalence between some Emmys jokes and the guy who alleged the president was a Muslim.

Now, that’s unfair coverage of Donald Trump. Unfair, that is, to the public.

Update: Fox News subsequently issued a statement alleging that Trump announced his boycott of the network only after it cancelled a scheduled appearance by the candidate on Thursday’s “O’Reilly Factor.”