Six months ago, Donald Trump and Fox News were at war.
When is Donald Trump going to stop embarrassing his friends, let alone the whole country?
— Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch) July 19, 2015
Megyn Kelly, by some measures Fox’s brightest star, opened the first Republican debate with a tough question to Donald Trump about his history of misogynistic comments. Trump bristled at the question, calling Kelly “nasty and unfair.”
It would get worse. Trump told CNN that Kelly had “blood coming out of her whatever” during the debate, a comment many took to be a reference to menstruation. Rupert Murdoch, who owns Fox News, supported Kelly.
Fox News CEO Roger Ailes called on Trump to apologize for his attack on Kelly. “Donald Trump rarely apologizes, although in this case, he should. We have never been deterred by politicians or anyone else attacking us for doing our job, much less allowed ourselves to be bullied by anyone and we’re certainly not going to start now,” Ailes said defiantly.
Trump refused. Subsequently, Trump did not appear on Fox for about two weeks.
Things would flare up again in late September. Trump was dissatisfied with critical coverage of his campaign on Fox.
I am having a really hard time watching @FoxNews.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 22, 2015
On September 23, Trump announced he would boycott the network.
.@FoxNews has been treating me very unfairly & I have therefore decided that I won't be doing any more Fox shows for the foreseeable future.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2015
Trump ended the boycott about a week later with a softball interview on Bill O’Reilly. Gabriel Sherman reported that other Fox hosts were concerned that his boycott would hurt their ratings.
What Trump established throughout the campaign is that he will relentlessly attack, and shun, media outlets that are critical of his candidacy. This approach appears to have paid big dividends for him at Fox News.
Today, relations between Trump and Fox News are much different. Fox News’ New Year’s Eve special was essentially a 3-hour tribute to Trump, culminating with an endlessly hyped live appearance by Trump to ring in the New Year.
On Thursday, the National Review, one of the most nation’s most prominent conservative magazines, called on Republicans to unite “Against Trump.” Trump lashed out against the magazine, calling it “sad” and “dying.” Clearly, anyone with positive things to say about the National Review’s efforts would not be viewed kindly by Trump.
Virtually the entire Fox News lineup united in Trump’s defense.
Greta Van Susteren (On The Record With Greta Van Susteren)
— Greta Van Susteren (@greta) January 22, 2016
Stacey Dash (Outnumbered)
[Trump is] more conservative and he’s anti-establishment which is what we want. William F. Buckley was anti-establishment when he started the “National Review.” So, I don’t understand their argument at all. What, you aren’t allowed to change your mind? I think you are allowed to change your mind and understand he wants to make America great. Whatever it takes to do that he wants to do that and he is the man to do that, he is the man with a Rolodex to do that and the power to do that and he’s the man who knows how to make deals. So he is the man to get people to cross the aisle and close the deal.
Jeanine Pirro (Justice With Judge Jeanine)
The National Review needs to get in line with the rest of the Republicans. How dare they trash the frontrunner @realDonaldTrump!
— Jeanine Pirro (@JudgeJeanine) January 22, 2016
Eric Bolling (Guest hosting for Bill O’Reilly)
— Fox News (@FoxNews) January 23, 2016
Jesse Waters (The Five)
— Fox News (@FoxNews) January 22, 2016
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) January 23, 2016
The change in approach extends all the way to the top. Murdoch, who previously called Trump an embarrassment in July and feuded with him in September, is now praising him for “appealing across party lines” with a “winning strategy.” (As a bonus, he’s criticizing Trump’s top opponent, Cruz.)
Cruz bets uniting white conservatives/evangelicals enough, Meanwhile Trump appealing across party lines. Surely the winning strategy.
— Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch) January 16, 2016
There was one Fox News host that did give airtime to Rich Lowry, the National Review editor who organized the campaign against Trump. It was Megyn Kelly.
Trump responded by calling for Kelly to be excluded from next week’s debate, where she is slated to be a moderator. Fox News rejected the request but still found a way to compliment Trump in the process. “Donald Trump is just trying to build up the audience for Thursday’s debate, for which we thank him,” the network said.