“Fox News Chairman & CEO Roger Ailes and Donald Trump spoke this morning and plan to have a meeting next week to discuss their differences of opinion regarding Fox’s coverage of Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign. Ailes will be joined by senior Fox editorial executives. Mr. Trump believes he has been treated unfairly in certain instances. FOX News has held every candidate in this race to the highest journalistic standards throughout our coverage. We believe a candid meeting about our differences is required and that any misunderstandings can be handled without compromising those standards”
The assumption on Twitter is that it was Ailes who caved to Trump and begged him for the meeting, not vice versa. That’s my assumption too. Partly it’s a matter of Trump’s “no apologies” persona: You can’t imagine him groveling to any media platform for airtime, especially when competitors are happy to turn over half-hour blocs of their morning programming to him to ramble on the air about whatever. Partly it’s the fact that Fox felt obliged to put out this press release at all. Any other candidate who whined about boycotting the network would probably either be ignored or would have a private phone chat with Ailes that you and I would never know about. As it is, Fox wants to make sure all the Trump fans out there know that they’re going to give him a respectful hearing despite the fact that he continues to publicly describe their brightest new star as an overrated lightweight who might have been bleeding out of some unspecified hole when she asked him tough questions at the debate. Clearly they’re worried enough about alienating his supporters that they’re willing to give him endless second chances no matter how many hard shots he takes at Fox on social media or on other cable news channels.
On the other hand: If it’s Fox that’s instigating this meeting, why didn’t they propose it yesterday in that press release announcing that they had canceled Trump’s appearance on O’Reilly’s show tonight? That would have been the perfect time to say, “We need a summit to discuss our differences.” The fact that the meeting only came up today would fit with a timeline in which Fox dumps Trump, Trump quietly panics overnight, then calls up Ailes this morning to see if they can work something out. Then again, it would also fit with a timeline in which Fox dumps Trump, Ailes sees MSNBC and CNN give huge chunks of exposure to Trump this morning, and suddenly Ailes decides that he doesn’t want to cede Trumpmania to the competition entirely. (The fact that Trump made sure to appear on the two other cable news nets this morning was a smart way to create more leverage with Fox.) So he picks up the phone and begs Trump for a meeting. Note too that Fox doesn’t claim in today’s press release that Trump asked them for a meeting, only that Ailes and Trump agreed it should happen. Is that because Trump asked for it and Fox didn’t want to piss him off by mentioning that, or is it because Ailes asked for it and Fox didn’t want to admit it?
Here he is on CNN this morning talking with Alisyn Camerota on topics various and sundry for nearly half an hour. After he was done with this, Scarborough gave him another 17 minutes on “Morning Joe.” Forty-three minutes of airtime on cable news is what the average presidential candidate gets over a few good weeks, I’d guess. Your move, Fox.