Like the kid in high school who is too cool for prom, Donald Trump has announced he will be hosting a special event in Des Moines, Iowa, in honor of veterans' organizations starting at the same time as the Fox News–sponsored GOP debate Thursday.
BREAKING: Trump sticks to his guns: Special Event Thurs night in Des Moines at exact same time as GOP debate. pic.twitter.com/NVzLXGJXGm— Peter Alexander (@PeterAlexander) January 27, 2016
Since Trump announced he was considering not going, it was unclear how seriously to take the threat. Now Trump's move indicates he might actually be for real.
His reasons have also shifted: Trump says it isn’t about Fox anchor Megyn Kelly anymore. This is a dig at Fox News CEO Roger Ailes and his organization’s recent statement accusing Trump’s camp of terrorizing Kelly.
It was the childishly written & taunting PR statement by Fox that made me not do the debate, more so than lightweight reporter, @megynkelly.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 27, 2016
Fox News released a statement yesterday in response to Trump’s threats to skip Thursday’s debate — the last GOP debate before Iowa’s caucuses.
"As many of our viewers know, FOX News is hosting a sanctioned debate in Des Moines, Iowa on Thursday night, three days before the first votes of the 2016 election are cast in the Iowa Caucus. Donald Trump is refusing to debate seven of his fellow presidential candidates on stage that night, which is near unprecedented.
We’re not sure how Iowans are going to feel about him walking away from them at the last minute, but it should be clear to the American public by now that this is rooted in one thing – Megyn Kelly, whom he has viciously attacked since August and has now spent four days demanding be removed from the debate stage. Capitulating to politicians’ ultimatums about a debate moderator violates all journalistic standards, as do threats, including the one leveled by Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski toward Megyn Kelly.
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.
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."
Trump found Fox's statement "nasty" and "dumb" and seemingly a better reason to skip the debate than his previously expressed qualms with Kelly, who is slated to moderate the event.
According to New York magazine reporter Gabriel Sherman, Fox News executives reportedly said Ailes mishandled Trump's objections to Kelly.
- Read about the buildup to Trump’s decision to skip Thursday’s debate: his weird history with Fox News and Megyn Kelly.
- Andrew Prokop lays out the three ways Trump’s boycott of the debate could turn out.
- Megyn Kelly and Donald Trump have been feuding for six months. Here is how it has played out on social media.