We’re all going to be watching so we might as well have a thread for comments. I used “versus” in the headline loosely because this is bound to be one of those “we go back a long time so level with me here” friendly arguments, but it’ll probably be more antagonistic than everyone thought it would be four hours ago, before Trump announced he really is holding an event opposite the debate tomorrow night. I thought this interview was going to be a song-and-dance where O’Reilly nudges him to reconsider because “the folks” are counting on him, Trump hems and haws and says he’s mad at Mean Megyn but he’ll think it over, and then everyone celebrates tomorrow when he announces he’ll show up after all because he owes it to Iowans. In fact, I wonder if that’s what Ailes thought he was getting when he agreed to let O’Reilly interview Trump this morning. As it is, with tomorrow night’s event for veterans now in motion, this is going to play more like a formal kiss-off to the debate than a “maybe, we’ll see” thing. Unless of course Trump opts for even more drama by announcing he may cancel the event, cut a check to veterans’ groups, and do the debate anyway.
Every reality show needs a good cliffhanger now and then.
I wonder how Kelly feels about the guy who precedes her in the line-up giving Trump a platform to grumble about her without any compensation in the form of “okay, maybe I’ll do the debate.” Fox critic Gabriel Sherman sees skullduggery at work:
This morning, Joe Scarborough reported that Ailes called Trump’s daughter Ivanka and wife, Melania, to get through to the GOP front-runner. But Trump is saying he’ll only talk to Rupert Murdoch directly. In a further challenge to Ailes’s power, Bill O’Reilly is scheduled to host Trump. Last night, Ailes directed Sean Hannity to cancel Trump’s interview. O’Reilly’s refusal to abide by a ban adds a new dynamic to the clash of egos. For O’Reilly, this is an opportunity to take back star power from Kelly. Sources say O’Reilly feels he made Kelly’s career by promoting her on his show, and he’s been furious that Kelly surpassed him in the ratings.
O’Reilly’s going to knife Ailes and Kelly, arguably the network’s most valuable property, by having Trump on over their objections? That seems … unlikely. More likely is that Ailes understands all too well that Trump has a big fan base and he doesn’t want to feed Trump’s narrative that the network is at war with him, even if he ends up skipping the debate tomorrow. The O’Reilly interview is an olive branch to viewers who like Trump, showing them that he’s still welcome there, they’re still willing to give him a fair hearing, and so forth.
If you need some conversation fodder during commercial breaks, here’s an interesting result from the new Purple Strategies national poll showing Trump leading the field by 20 points:
These numbers are interesting too. This is a poll of Republican primary voters, mind you: