Donald Trump will not be taking part in the upcoming Republican presidential primary debate after Fox News sent out a press release “written by a child” mocking the GOP candidate, his campaign spokesperson confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter.
The incident leading to the decision started with Trump not letting up with his criticism of Fox News’ Megyn Kelly, standing firm in his position that she should not be a moderator for Thursday’s debate because she, in his opinion, has it in for him.
The GOP presidential front-runner reiterated his point on Tuesday afternoon, posting a short video to social media along with a poll asking “Should I do the GOP Debate?”
“Megyn Kelly’s really biased against me. She knows that. I know that. Everybody knows that,” said Trump. “Do you really think she can be fair at a debate?”
Afterward, Fox News responded with this presumably hyperbolic statement: “We learned from a secret back channel that the Ayatollah and Putin both intend to treat Donald Trump unfairly when they meet with him if he becomes president — a nefarious source tells us that Trump has his own secret plan to replace the Cabinet with his Twitter followers to see if he should even go to those meetings.”
Trump shot back on Twitter.
“Pathetic attempt by @foxnews to try and build up ratings for the #GOPDebate. Without me they’d have no ratings!” he wrote.
Trump said Fox News crossed a line with its previous statement.
“I said, ‘bye, bye,” he said.
A video posted by Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on
The billionaire businessman has repeatedly criticized the political commentator and host of The Kelly File since the first GOP primary debate in August when Kelly, with the initial question of the event, asked Trump about his previous sexist, degrading remarks toward women.
Trump released an addition statement Tuesday night, reiterating his boycott.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 27, 2016
Fox News responded Tuesday night, calling Trump’s decision to not participate in the debate “near unprecedented.”
“Trump is still welcome at Thursday night’s debate and will be treated fairly, just as he has been during his 132 appearances on FOX News & FOX Business, but he can’t dictate the moderators or the questions,” Fox News said in a statement.
Still, the network made clear it would not respond to threats, “including the one leveled by Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski toward Megyn Kelly,” according to the statement. “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.”
A spokeswoman for the Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment to the latest Fox News statement.