Fox News slammed Donald Trump’s announcement to skip the next Republican presidential debate in Iowa, suggesting the decision was because of moderator Megyn Kelly, who has been subject to “terrorizations” from the candidate’s campaign.
Trump, the leading candidate for the Republican nomination, said Tuesday that he would not participate in Thursday night’s GOP debate to be hosted by Fox News days before the Iowa caucuses.
Trump and Kelly have had an ongoing feud since the first GOP debate, hosted by Fox News in August, during which Kelly confronted the controversial candidate about his disparaging remarks about women, calling them “fat pigs,” “dogs,” and “slobs.”
Trump’s supporters subsequently threatened Kelly and the candidate himself attacked the journalist in various TV appearances.
Fox News said Tuesday the war of words escalated behind the scenes over the weekend, and accused Trump’s campaign manager of “terrorizations” against Kelly.
In a statement, the conservative news network said Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski called a Fox News executive on Saturday, threatening him to remove Kelly from the GOP event.
“Lewandowski stated that Megyn ‘had a rough couple days after that last debate’ and he ‘would hate to have her go through that again.’ Lewandowski was warned not to level any more threats, but he continued to do so,” the statement, released to Politico, said.
“We can’t give into terrorizations toward any of our employees,” the network said.
Fox News further said that Trump had spent four days lobbying to remove Kelly, but the network refused to capitulate.
“Trump is still welcome at Thursday night’s debate and will be treated fairly, just as he has been during his 132 appearances on FOX News & FOX Business, but he can’t dictate the moderators or the questions,” it stated.