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“Megyn Kelly Made Up With Donald Trump”: Everyone Else On The Right Will Do The Same

Fox News and Donald Trump are reaching a detente at last; yesterday Megyn Kelly went to Trump Tower for an hour-long meeting she described as allowing “a chance to clear the air,” after which Trump went to the Fox offices to have lunch with network chief Roger Ailes. This comes after Kelly had the temerity to ask Trump about sexist remarks he had made in the past, which led him to unleash a months-long campaign of insults at her (The Donald doesn’t like to be challenged, especially by a woman).

The time had obviously come for Kelly to make nice, and more importantly, Fox needed to smooth over any conflict with Trump, given that he’s likely to be the Republican nominee for president soon.

Though Fox is a unique and complicated media outlet, this is a preview of what’s to come from many quarters on the right. People and organizations which have criticized and even attacked Trump, some in the harshest possible terms, will come around. They might not start praising him to the heavens, but they are going to join in the effort to get him elected. Because the alternative will be irrelevance, the last thing anyone in politics wants.

Let’s take, as a first example, our old friend Karl Rove. Politico reports today that while Rove has been criticizing Trump in public, behind the scenes he and American Crossroads, the super PAC he helped found, are telling donors that Trump can beat Hillary Clinton, so everyone needs to be prepared to get behind him. Now why might that be?

Consider that American Crossroads and its sister “charitable” organization Crossroads GPS are together the premier vehicle for rich Republicans to play in elections. In 2012, they spent $176 million on the campaign, more than any other group. If Trump is the nominee and American Crossroads said, “Forget about this election — we won’t support Trump,” where would that leave them? On the sidelines, with no role to play (at least in the presidential race), no contributions coming in, no salaries for their staff, no commissions for their consultants, and no influence. When there’s a presidential election going on, the last thing political players like them want is to be left out of the game.

American Crossroads goes after the big money, but there is a whole universe of operators and organizations who depend for their incomes on convincing conservatives that by handing over $20 or $50 or $100 they can fight today’s bête noir, whether it’s Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, and that with their contributions they can push back on social change and turn America back to the place it was when they were young. Once your name and address are on one of their lists, they’ll be bought and sold again and again, so you can be targeted with appeal after appeal for donations to do your part in fighting the good fight. It’s a gigantic grift — many of the organizations spend little on actual political work, and the contributions help line the pockets of the people who run them. In the last couple of years, even some conservatives have gotten uncomfortable with this gigantic grift. But too many people are getting a taste for it to be dismantled.

Even for those who aren’t just fleecing rank-and-file conservatives to get rich, Trump becoming the nominee (presuming that happens) changes the calculation, making attacking him no longer worthwhile. Those who have criticized him up to now will have to justify their change in tone, but with the specter of a Hillary Clinton presidency looming, it won’t be that difficult.

That applies even to those who have been most vociferous in their criticisms of Trump. He has been attacked in the strongest possible terms by numerous outlets of the conservative media, like National Review, the Weekly Standard, and the Wall Street Journal editorial page. That can partially be explained by the fact that they appeal to an elite conservative audience, the kind of people who are horrified by Trump and his supporters and would like to get back to a time when the rabble were brought along with more subtle appeals and genteel Republican officials focused on the truly important work of cutting capital gains taxes. While they might be hesitant to sing Trump’s praises too loudly given what they’ve said up to now, they’ll likely just ignore him (for the most part) and spend the summer and fall telling their readers why Hillary Clinton was spat from the very fires of hell to complete Barack Obama’s work of destroying America.

Fox News, on the other hand, has a more downscale audience, one that will want to hear not just about Clinton’s villainy, but also why Trump is a terrific guy who’s going to make America great. After all, if you’ve spent years watching Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, you’ve heard Trump’s arguments a thousand times: America is in decline, immigrants are destroying everything, black people need to shut up and pull up their pants, the white man can’t catch a break.

You can already watch fawning interviews of Trump on the network, but in the end, everyone — including Megyn Kelly — is going to have to get on board Trump’s train. When he’s the nominee, that’s what will be in the best interests of the network itself and the Republican Party, and Roger Ailes’ genius has always been his ability to serve both at the same time. And if Kelly doesn’t like it, she’ll have to get a job somewhere else.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, April 14, 2016

April 18, 2016 Posted by | Conservative Media, Donald Trump, Megyn Kelly | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“The Media’s Collusion With Politicians?”: Should A Member Of The Press “Clear The Air” With A Politician?

One of the arguments that is often used to point out unfairness is to suggest what things would look like if roles were reversed. For example, pointing out that a remark was sexist by asking what it would look like if the same thing were said to a man.

That kind of argument is so often abused that I tend to avoid it. Nevertheless, it was the first thing that came to mind when I heard that Fox News reporter Megyn Kelly had a private meeting with Donald Trump and reported that they had a chance to “clear the air.”

Let’s remember what happened here. In a Republican presidential debate Kelly asked Trump some tough questions. He didn’t like them and went on for days and weeks to say horribly sexist things about her. The feud disturbed the relationship Fox News had with the presidential contender and became the focus of a lot of press reports.

Here is where I want to employ the role change argument. What would we be saying about a media reporter who asked a Democratic candidate tough questions that eventually led to a private meeting to clear the air? I submit that holy hell would break out about the media’s collusion with politicians and failure to play their role as watch dogs.

In no way do I mean to imply any sympathy for Megyn Kelly. She is part of a media institution that, while pretending to be “fair and balanced,” is nothing more than a mouthpiece for conservatives. I’d propose that is why so few people find this whole episode to be unremarkable…it’s what we expect from Fox News.

I’ll not be breaking any new ground when I point out that this is actually a perfect example of how that network is not a news organization, but a PR arm of the Republican Party. But in this case, I think it still needs to be said out loud.

 

By: Nancy Letourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, April 14, 2016

April 15, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Media, Megyn Kelly | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Mutual Back-Scratching Session With Donald Trump”: Where’s Bill O’Reilly’s Full-Throated Defense Of Megyn Kelly?

Fox News is an organization famous for loyalty. The culture starts from the top, where boss Roger Ailes sits. When anchors come under fire for some reason or other, Ailes is there to back them up. A year ago, for instance, ratings king Bill O’Reilly struggled to respond to a plume of reports documenting how he’d misled people about past reportorial exploits. Whereas other news organizations would audit such a situation, Ailes supported O’Reilly and waited out the storm.

On his program last night, O’Reilly demonstrated how not to return the favor. In a highly anticipated quasi-interview/mutual back-scratching session with Donald Trump, O’Reilly carefully avoided a full-throated endorsement of his colleague Megyn Kelly. Trump has been hammering Kelly ever since the Aug. 6 GOP debate in Cleveland, when she sought an explanation from Trump about how he’d mistreated women over the years. In tweets and interviews, Trump has called Kelly a “lightweight” and cheekily used the term “bimbo” in criticizing her, among other insults — conduct that speaks to the righteousness of Kelly’s Cleveland question.

In recent days, Trump renewed his rips against Kelly and on Tuesday his campaign announced he wouldn’t be showing up for tonight’s Fox News debate, at which Kelly, Bret Baier and Chris Wallace will serve as moderators. Trump will hold his own event in Iowa at the same time as the Fox News debate.

A way-too-long conversation on “The O’Reilly Factor” accorded the host a great number of opportunities to rebuff Trump for invoking the term “bimbo” in a tweet about Kelly; to stand foursquare behind Kelly’s Aug. 6 question; and to otherwise stand up for journalism. He turned them down, perhaps preferring not to rupture his decades-long friendship with the real-estate mogul.

Sure, O’Reilly gave the three moderators a vote of confidence, telling Trump that they’d treat him fairly if he decided to show up for the contest. And he did say that Kelly’s question was “within journalistic bounds.”

That said, O’Reilly did some retroactive editing of his prime-time Fox News colleague: “If I had been debate moderator last August, I would have asked you about that comment. I wouldn’t ask it the same way. But once you said something about Carly Fiorina, you open the door for it,” said O’Reilly to Trump. There’s a mistake in there: Kelly didn’t ask about Fiorina at the Aug. 6 Cleveland debate. The controversial and very sexist comments from Trump about Fiorina — “Look at that face!” he said in mocking his fellow candidate’s appearance — surfaced in a September Rolling Stone interview. With her famous question one month earlier in Cleveland, Kelly was focusing on other sexist comments by Trump. Here’s the transcript:

Mr. Trump, one of the things people love about you is you speak your mind and you don’t use a politician’s filter. However, that is not without its downsides, in particular, when it comes to women.
You’ve called women you don’t like “fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals.” Your Twitter account … has several disparaging comments about women’s looks. You once told a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees. Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man we should elect as president, and how will you answer the charge from Hillary Clinton, who was likely to be the Democratic nominee, that you are part of the war on women?

When O’Reilly says he wouldn’t have asked that question the “same way,” what he means is that he would have said, “Mr. Trump, my friend of many decades, with whom I’ve gone to many sporting events and bought a great number of milkshakes, would your presidency help women?”

 

By: Eric Wemple, The Erik Wemple Blog, Opinion Page, The Washington Post, January 28, 2016

January 29, 2016 Posted by | Bill O'Reilly, Fox News, Megyn Kelly, Roger Ailes | , , , , , | 2 Comments

   

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