Trump Claims "Roger Ailes Was the Greatest" As He Ramps Up Attacks On Fox News

Donald Trump at Republican National Convention
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The president is promoting C-SPAN and conservative outlets One America News Network and Newsmax to watch his Florida rally instead.

President Trump is ramping up his attacks against Fox News and promoting its competitors as he returns to the campaign trail following a COVID-19 diagnosis.

"@FoxNews allows more negative ads on me than practically all of the other networks combined. Not like the old days, but we will win even bigger than 2016. Roger Ailes was the GREATEST!," Trump tweeted on Monday, less than an hour before he began a campaign rally in Sanford, Florida, his first since being diagnosed with the novel coronavirus. (A White House doctor said Trump had tested negative for COVID-19 "on consecutive days" on Monday before the president arrived in Florida.)

"Getting ready to land in Florida. BIG CROWD! Live on various networks: @OANN, @cspan, @newsmax and others!!!," the president continued, listing competitors to Fox News in an apparent continued attack on his once-favored network.

Trump's comment about Ailes, the former chairman and CEO of Fox News, drew controversy on Monday, and Ailes' name began trending on Twitter. Ailes resigned from his position at the news network in 2016 after multiple women accused him of sexual harassment, including former Fox on-air talent Gretchen Carlson and Megyn Kelly. What little is known of Carlson and Kelly's stories (both have signed nondisclosure agreements) was dramatized in the 2019 film Bombshell. Ailes died in 2017.

Trump has long had a love/hate relationship with Fox News. He sees the network as a core megaphone to his conservative base, but he had expressed frustration at times when the channel has hosted Democrats as guests, or when the channel's journalists have covered him in a way that lacked the more positive coverage he often gets on the channel's opinion shows.

As he has continued to slip behind Joe Biden in public opinion polls and as he recovered from COVID-19, Trump has made frequent appearances on Fox, all of them on friendly shows like Hannity, Tucker Carlson Tonight, Fox & Friends and Justice with Judge Jeanine.

But he has also tried to bolster Fox's competitors, which tend to frame him in an even more positive light than Fox's opinion hosts, and which tend to cover his rallies live and uninterrupted. In 2016, Fox News, CNN and MSNBC would frequently carry those rallies live, but this year the channels have tended to only break in when he says something newsworthy

And so earlier on Monday he also plugged One America News Network, C-SPAN and Newsmax as places to watch his Florida rally. It is a move he has tried before, though none of Fox's competitors have seen significant ratings growth as a result of the President's promotions.