Update: Trump appears to be denying Fox's charge that he threatened Kelly:
The original post follows:
That’s a nice TV host you have there. It’d be a shame if anything happened to her.
According to Fox News Channel, this is basically the message Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump’s campaign delivered over the weekend, as the Manhattan billionaire tried to bully the network into removing Megyn Kelly as a moderator of Thursday’s candidates' debate in Des Moines.
Here’s Fox’s version of events, per a statement released late Tuesday night, after Trump declared that he would not attend the debate:
Capitulating to politicians’ ultimatums about a debate moderator violates all journalistic standards, as do threats, including the one leveled by Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, toward Megyn Kelly. In a call on Saturday with a Fox News executive, Lewandowski stated that Megyn had a “rough couple of days after that last debate” and he “would hate to have her go through that again.” Lewandowski was warned not to level any more threats, but he continued to do so. We can’t give in to terrorizations toward any of our employees.
By a “rough couple of days after that last debate,” Trump’s campaign manager was, of course, referring to the rhetorical fusillade spewed by the GOP front-runner following an August debate that Kelly helped to moderate. Kelly pressed Trump about his “temperament” — specifically the offensive way he sometimes talks about women.
Trump responded by, well, talking offensively about a woman (Kelly). He said on CNN the day after the debate that she had “blood coming out of her wherever.” He also began trashing her regularly on social media.
Trump’s campaign was not-so-subtly warning Fox News and Kelly that they would be in for more of the same if Kelly were to moderate Thursday’s event. Fox News boss Roger Ailes, bless his heart, effectively told Trump to take a hike. So Trump did.
This behind-the-scenes threat is Exhibit No. 738 of Trump’s stepping over the line. And yet … I guarantee his supporters will back him up on it. They’ll say it shows what a tough negotiator he is, what a shrewd deal-maker he is — exactly what we need in the White House. And when the ratings for Thursday's debate drop, they'll say Fox made the wrong call.
That’s the spin coming out of Trump’s campaign. Here’s part of a statement from his camp:
As someone who wrote one of the best-selling business books of all time, “The Art of the Deal,” who has built an incredible company, including some of the most valuable and iconic assets in the world, and as someone who has a personal net worth of many billions of dollars, Mr. Trump knows a bad deal when he sees one. … Unlike the very stupid, highly incompetent people running our country into the ground, Mr. Trump knows when to walk away.
The reality is that this was never about business acumen. It was a power struggle, and Trump apparently thought he could win by acting like some kind of 1920s New York gangster.