New York mag source on Trump/Fox feud: “Roger [Ailes] says Trump is unelectable. His goal here is to save the country."

Some new Fox juiciness from Gabriel Sherman. If you don’t trust him to report fairly on Fox, discount the following accordingly.

But since virtually all Trump fans are already convinced that Fox is part of a RINO establishment plot to take down Trump, with Megyn Kelly leading the effort at the debate, I think you’ll find this tidbit very much to your liking.

“What’s wrong with this guy?” Ailes grumbled to a Trump ally recently, according to a source. “I don’t know what to do.”

Trump’s feelings are just as personal. On August 12, two days after agreeing to the truce, Trump steamed in private while reading a report by CNN media correspondent Brian Stelter that Trump felt took a pro-Fox slant. “We resolve this now or go to war,” the piece quoted Ailes saying. Trump, according to a friend who spoke with him, felt Ailes was spinning in order to damage him. “I know exactly what they were doing,” Trump told the friend, who says it took a lot for Trump to keep his mouth shut that day. “When Ailes was putting out those stories saying he had won, I just kept quiet. Aren’t you proud of me?” Trump told the friend. (A Fox spokesperson didn’t respond to a request for comment.)

It’s now harder to see an end to the Trump-Fox war soon. As I reported this week, Trump’s poll numbers remain strong and he’s building a robust campaign operation, which is a threat to Ailes’s political project: “Roger says Trump is unelectable. His goal here is to save the country,” a source close to Ailes told me.

So Ailes is trying to sabotage Trump. An already hot feud is about to get hotter, no doubt with plenty of nasty Fox hit pieces about Trump’s paper-thin conservatism. Here we go!

But … wait. Wasn’t that Frank Luntz, who had himself knocked Trump lately and whom Trump had called on Ailes to fire, giving glowing reviews to Trump on Hannity’s show last night? Why, it was Frank Luntz. Watch the clip below as he breathlessly regales Fox viewers with news that Trump scored the first ever perfect 100 score in one of his focus groups. And say — wasn’t that Donald Trump himself on Laura Ingraham’s show this morning not only reassuring Ingraham that there’d be no more “bimbo” retweets about Megyn Kelly but that he’d just gotten off the phone with Roger Ailes and still thinks of him as “a special guy and a good friend of mine”? Why, it was Donald Trump. The feud is over(-ish)! Peace in our time!

Er, what the hell happened here? As late as yesterday evening, Trump was onstage at his presser in Dubuque whining again about how “terribly” Fox supposedly treats him. At roughly the same time, Luntz was talking him up on FNC and now he and Ailes are buds again. Occam’s razor: Both Trump and Ailes concluded independently that they have more to lose by waging this war than by reaching detente. For Ailes, Trump is a threat to Fox’s populist cred. Their whole gimmick is that they’re giving you fair and balanced news that left-leaning establishment outfits won’t; now Trump is telling conservatives that Fox is part of the establishment itself. That’s awful for the brand. For Trump, meanwhile, sneering at Megyn Kelly has some downside with no real upside. It makes him look petty to still be whining about the debate three weeks later, especially at the expense of the most widely respected member of the Fox primetime (and arguably the most influential woman news anchor on TV right now). Even Ingraham, a loyal Trump defender, is on him here for wasting his time picking fights with Kelly when he could be talking about immigration instead. There’s just no money in this feud for either side, unless/until Trump is finally ready to do an interview with Kelly herself. There’ll be some money in that, I dare say.

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David Strom 8:01 AM on February 03, 2023