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Roger Ailes ,
Megyn Kelly ,
Rupert Murdoch ,
Donald Trump ,
2016 presidential election , Entertainment News
Republican front-runner Donald Trump announced yesterday that he was pulling out of Thursday night’s debate on Fox News , citing a refusal to share the stage with network anchor Megyn Kelly. Trump has subjected Kelly to any number of insults, gendered and otherwise: “ bimbo ,” “ blood coming out of her wherever ,” and the more garden-variety accusations of stupidity or incompetence. And yet, as is the nature of trolls everywhere, it’s Trump that claims the grievance against Kelly, protesting that her questioning of him—a tactic we in the media biz call “journalism”—is biased, disingenuous, and/or mean-spirited.
It’s a display of petulance that puts many of us in the odd position of siding with Fox News on something; this, when Fox News and the GOP have spent the last decade or two propping each other up with bad faith and worse rhetoric. Trump is the first Republican candidate to antagonize Fox News , creating a major break in this lucrative arrangement.
In October, James Poniewozik at the New York Times observed that Trump’s candidacy, and its subsequent success, drew from the logic of reality television:
This seems more relevant than ever, as Trump’s threats to Fox News about Kelly’s presence at the debate ended up escalating to a point that most political candidates will never admit to. “Let’s see how much money Fox is going to make on the debate without me,” he bragged, at a news conference in Marshalltown, Iowa. “Let them have their debate, and let’s see how they do with the ratings.”
It is a testament both to Trump’s media savvy and to the sorry state of journalism in America that this threat is a very real one. It’s awkward to bring up the fact that cable news—and broadcast news, and all news, in all media—are, in this country, purely capitalistic ventures that rely on ratings success to justify their existence. Trump, like ebola back in 2014, is a ratings boon; a polarizing and seemingly unassailable force of kinetic buzz, a perpetual sound bite machine. He has no shame and no principles, and as a result, he effortlessly capitalizes on the broken and vulnerable American news-entertainment complex.