Trump continued his criticism of Fox News host and August debate moderator Megyn Kelly on Monday night, even after appearing on the network’s The O’Reilly Factor, prompting Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes to come to Kelly’s defense on Tuesday morning. He issued the following statement:
“Donald Trump’s surprise and unprovoked attack on Megyn Kelly during her show last night is as unacceptable as it is disturbing. Megyn Kelly represents the very best of American journalism and all of us at FOX News Channel reject the crude and irresponsible attempts to suggest otherwise. I could not be more proud of Megyn for her professionalism and class in the face of all of Mr. Trump’s verbal assaults. Her questioning of Mr. Trump at the debate was tough but fair, and I fully support her as she continues to ask the probing and challenging questions that all presidential candidates may find difficult to answer. Donald Trump rarely apologizes, although in this case, he should. We have never been deterred by politicians or anyone else attacking us for doing our job, much less allowed ourselves to be bullied by anyone and we’re certainly not going to start now. All of our journalists will continue to report in the fair and balanced way that has made FOX News Channel the number one news network in the industry.”
This is the third time this month that Ailes has been prompted to publicly come out in defense of Kelly, as the vocal Trump has been unrelenting in his vitriol since Kelly asked him to comment about his incendiary characterizations of women during the first GOP debate. In Monday’s Twitter tirade, Trump said that Kelly should “take another 11-day unscheduled vacation.”
Trump sounded off on both Ailes and Kelly in a recent Hollywood Reporter cover story, in which he admitted that he believes in apologizing — but doesn’t remember the last time he did it. “Well, he’s a man that I like a lot, he’s been a friend of mine for many years, and he has done an incredible job,” Trump said of Ailes. “We were at war because I felt that [Kelly’s debate question about women] was unfair, and I let him know it. But it’s all fine now. They were tough questions, and I thought inappropriate, but Roger didn’t, and I’ll go with Roger.”
Ailes is not the only one coming to Kelly’s defense. Multiple FNC anchors and hosts — Sean Hannity among them — sounded off on Twitter to speak on her behalf. Kelly herself has kept mum, though that likely will change during Tuesday night’s episode of The Kelly File.
In a reply to Ailes, Trump didn’t back away from his criticism of Kelly.
Politico reported the statement read, “I totally disagree with the FOX statement. I do not think Megyn Kelly is a quality journalist. I think her questioning of me, despite all of the polls saying I won the debate, was very unfair. Hopefully in the future I will be proven wrong and she will be able to elevate her standards to a level of professionalism that a network such as FOX deserves.”