Trump says he will not participate in the Fox debate on Thursday, because Fox issued a statement he didn’t like in response to his demand that they remove Megyn Kelly as one of the questioners:
Trump has made such threats before, but he said that the Fox News Channel, which is hosting the debate Thursday night, had gone too far by issuing press statements on Tuesday that he said mocked his concern about Megyn Kelly, one of the debate co-moderators.
“They’re dealing with someone who’s a little bit different. They can’t toy with me like they toy with everybody else,” he added.
When Trump saw the press release from Fox, “I said, ‘Bye bye,'” he said…
Earlier Tuesday, Fox News Channel President Roger Ailes told The Post that “Megyn Kelly is an excellent journalist, and the entire network stands behind her. She will absolutely be on the debate stage on Thursday night.”
Later, the network poked fun at Trump in a satirical 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.”
My first reaction is: he can dish it out, but he can’t take it.
He can insult their journalist (which he has done time and again), he can demand they remove her and issue ultimatums, he can make sarcastic and insulting tweets about everything and everybody, but he can’t take one?
My second reaction is: if you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.
Oh, I realize that many people will see it differently and think this is a strong move denoting power on Trump’s part. I don’t think it will hurt him much with those who already support him. He must be feeling very confident about that. But to those who are on the fence, wavering, mulling it over (and there are still many undecided primary voters, even in Iowa and New Hampshire), I think it looks weak. It looks especially weak for a man whose great appeal to his supporters is based to a significant extent on his ability to withstand the back-and-forth of politics and trade insults with the best (or worst) of them.
But who knows. Maybe his numbers will soar. If so, that will say more about Americans than about Trump.
[NOTE: I think Fox’s ratings for the debate may go down a bit. But maybe not, because now people may tune in to see the novelty of how a debate shapes up without the Trump factor.]
[ADDENDUM: By the way, I don’t think Fox should have issued that jokey taunt. But Trump has already undermined the dignity of the entire endeavor by his attacks on Kelly and the form they took. At any rate, my post isn’t about who’s right or wrong, it’s about Trump acting weak here. It seems odd to me that a man who is known for his insults, and his supposed toughness, can’t take a response in kind and instead wants to leave the fray.
I’m surprised he didn’t just answer them with some sort of witty put-down. He’s certainly capable of that. And then he could have put them down during the debate if he didn’t like what happened there. Leaving makes him look cowardly.]
[ADDENDUM II: I think that Fox should hold the debate with an empty podium right in the middle—you know, like the empty chair.]