In case you couldn’t tell from Fox’s on-again Donald Trump cheerleading, he and Roger Ailes have patched things up again. For now.
If you missed our last installment of this clash of the bromance titans, Ailes kinda sorta asked Trump to apologize for his Monday night Twitter tirade against Megyn Kelly and Trump refused. I then predicted that this would be an on-again, off-again affair for the foreseeable future.
So, the bromance is on again. On Wednesday, on her radio show, Laura Ingraham asked Trump about his “big death struggle” with Megyn Kelly to which Trump replied, “It’s not a death struggle, not a big deal.” Which should have caused Ingraham to roar with laughter at such a whopper. And maybe she would have, if Ingraham had not been so intent on sucking up and getting an autograph for her daughter (from Guatemala, Ingraham made sure to note).
“Actually, I watched her show last night; she was very nice and I appreciated it,” Trump said about Kelly.
Trump also told Ingraham, “Roger Ailes is great. Roger Ailes is a special guy. He’s a good friend of mine and we just spoke two minutes ago. I mean, Roger Ailes is a great guy and no, I have no problem.”
Erik Wemple has a terrific analysis of this latest episode:
Whatever Trump’s cogitations, Ailes apparently engaged in yet another telephonic conciliation — after Trump violated the first one. In deference to the Fox News chief, he’s in a difficult spot. Pressure on the exec mounted after Trump made those awful “blood” comments on CNN. Shouldn’t he step in and defend his star anchor? Consider this ill-considered headline on an Aug. 11 New York Magazine piece on the controversy: “How Roger Ailes Picked Trump, and Fox News’ Audience, Over Megyn Kelly.” That piece scolded Ailes for not taking a more aggressive approach against the gas-bag businessman.
Plus — Ailes has built a reputation as the kind of boss who has the back of his people. They are loyal to him, and he returns the favor. That very mutuality is behind the stick-up-for-Megyn-Kelly statement that Ailes released yesterday.
Yet by participating in these peace-making discussions with Trump, Ailes comes off more as a player in the GOP primary game than as a news executive. His role is to drive news stories on Trump, not to hop on the phone with him to work things out. In addition to that substantive problem, there’s a crisis of appearances here as well: Ailes is negotiating and issuing statements to protect Kelly, the host that Fox News promotes as an intrepid, thick-skinned cable brawler. That Megyn Kelly needs no protection from a blowhard like Donald Trump; Ailes’s recent work makes it look as though she does.
But Ailes has put “GOP player” over everything else in this soap opera all along. From his not-very-credible claim to have had nothing to do with the debate questions Trump objected to (rightly, in my view), to his capitulation in the face of Trump’s initial onslaught against Kelly, to Ailes’ tepid request for Trump’s apology to the sudden transition of contributor Frank Luntz from Trump-hater to Trump-admirer, what was formerly seen as the GOP network seems to have morphed into the Donald Trump network.
But that may well be on the surface only. Given that Ailes reportedly believes Trump is unelectable, there’s every reason to expect he’ll double cross Trump (again) at some point and the whole death struggle will start up again.
You can listen to Trump with Ingraham via the link below.
(H/T Media Matters)
Roger Ailes graphic by DonkeyHotey.