As the Donald turns: Trump's debate shenanigans have the GOP and Fox News in chaos | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, January 28, 2016

As the Donald turns: Trump's debate shenanigans have the GOP and Fox News in chaos

Posted By on Thu, Jan 28, 2016 at 10:07 AM

Will Donald Trump be at tonight's debate? Who knows, but he seems to be driving full speed ahead in his game of chicken with Fox News. 

You'll recall that Trump repeatedly insulted Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, often with an apparently misogynist or vulgar slant, after she asked him about his tendency to use insulting language against women. Because of this, according to Trump, Kelly is too biased to be a moderator at tonight's GOP debate, hosted by Fox. He made this complaint to the bigwigs at Fox, but they refused to remove Kelly as a moderator. Fox put out a statement, reportedly approved by evil Fox News mastermind and GOP power broker Roger Ailes

We learned from a secret back channel that the Ayatollah and Putin both intend to treat Donald Trump unfairly when they meet with him if he becomes president — a nefarious source tells us that Trump has his own secret plan to replace the Cabinet with his Twitter followers to see if he should even go to those meetings.

Ouch! Trump didn't like that. 

Trump kept being nasty to Kelly, but now he says that it's really the statement from Ailes that has pissed him off. New York magazine reporter Gabriel Sherman, probably the best-sourced reporter on Fox News, speculates that could mean that Trump could get back in to the fray if Ailes apologizes. Sources told Sherman that Ailes is calling Trump "incessantly," but the reality television star won't answer (some at Fox are not pleased with how Ailes has handled the mess). 

Some have speculated that this is all a ruse to get media attention and that in the end, Trump will show up at the debate tonight. Others think the Donald is making a strategic decision to skip out, either because he wants to dodge questions about past positions on abortion or immigration or because as the frontrunner he doesn't want to risk a confrontation with Cruz that could hurt him with late-deciding voters. Or maybe he just wants to beat Fox one-on-one with his own spectacle, an event to benefit veterans at Drake University in Iowa, which will be held at the same time as the debate. The other networks will surely cover that. Could Trump get more eyeballs on his own than with his fellow clown-car drivers? As with all things Trump, who knows! 

Trump's shenanigans are leading to a collective nervous breakdown in the GOP field. Ted Cruz is challenging him to a one-on-one, 90-minute debate with no moderators (remember when Tom Cotton suggested this snoozefest against Mark Pryor?). Cruz's Super PAC is pledging $1.5 million to veterans groups if Trump will debate Cruz. Carly Fiorina, a forgotten candidate reportedly still in the race, offered to pledge $2 million to veterans groups if she could join. 

It's basically become a charity auction, with bidding from candidates desperate to be on the same stage with the D. Fiorina is worth somewhere between $30 and 120 million according to public filings, and Cruz's PAC backers are billionaires. So, you know, if they have the money to donate to veterans's causes, they should just donate it, rather than hinging their kindness on the whims of a barking orange strongman. Trump is now saying that two candidates called last night and said they wanted to go to his event rather than the debate. Heh. 

Last night Trump made an appearance on Fox with a remaining ally from the network, Bill O'Reilly. O'Reilly told him to turn the other cheek, Trump said nope, an eye for an eye. O'Reily begged Trump to appear on the debate. He said that he had bought Trump a lot of milkshakes ("that's true," Trump said) and that he would buy him more if he would please come to the debate. (Cheaper than a million-dollar charitable contribution!) Trump demurred. 

In the video above, Trump tells O'Reilly, "you're taking this much more seriously than I am." Indeed. That seems like his message to the media, to the nation, to the world. 

In other Trump news, he got an endorsement from South Carolina Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster, his biggest yet from a sitting elected official. And that Joe Scarborough guy is being cagey on whether he would be Trump's VP. 

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