Shocking many at Fox News, Donald Trump lit a fresh fire under his feud with anchor Megyn Kelly on Monday, breaking a reported truce between the network and the Republican presidential candidate.
Kelly returned from her vacation Monday night, and a feisty Trump was ready to play critic from his Twitter account. The billionaire wrote that Kelly “must have had a terrible vacation” because he didn’t think she was doing a very good job. He then retweeted: “The bimbo is back in town. I hope not for long.” He finished the series of attacks by saying, “I liked the Kelly File much better without @megynkelly. Perhaps she could take another eleven day unscheduled vacation.”
Fox News personalities such as Sean Hannity, Bret Baier, and Brian Kilmeade condemned the attacks, but the biggest surprise was a statement from Roger Ailes himself. The CEO of the channel fired off a terse missive, calling Trump’s comments “surprise and unprovoked.”
“Donald Trump rarely apologizes, although in this case, he should,” Ailes said. “We have never been deterred by politicians or anyone else attacking us for doing our job, much less allowed ourselves to be bullied by anyone and we’re certainly not going to start now.”
This has become a rather unfortunate aspect of Trump’s candidacy, leaving him open to criticisms that hit a little too close to home. In a year where the Democratic presidential nominee is most likely going to be a woman, Republicans don’t need a nominee who can’t defend himself against charges of misogyny. And it’s clear that Kelly has gotten under his skin in a way male journalists – journalists who have been just as harsh and “unfair” as Kelly – haven’t. He’s been able to easily deflect accusations of racism surrounding his tough stance on immigration, but this one isn’t so simple.
The other worrying thing is what it shows about his lack of forethought. Trump supporters have gotten a kick out of his off-the-cuff “I could say anything at any time” shtick, but you have to wonder what was going through his head on this one. Americans are sizing up the men and women who want to lead the country, and he’s taking shots at Megyn Kelly? Whether it’s offensive or not is a matter of opinion; whether it’s wise or not is a little more obvious. And it is a matter of some concern that he doesn’t apparently see that.
If Trump could survive Round One of this feud no worse for wear, then he’ll probably emerge from this unscathed as well. That’s not a bad thing – his candidacy has been one of the most interesting political developments in a long time, and it has a number of important topics being discussed at the national level. And without a doubt, it has at least 30% of Republican voters extremely excited about a candidate for the first time in years.
But this silly stuff has to go. After all the fun and games are done, we’re still talking about the presidency. Trump might want to remember that.