The fighters have been sponged clean in their respective corners, they’ve swished their mouths out with water, and now they’re ready to put on another show for a capacity crowd waiting in breathless anticipation. No, this isn’t Mitt Romney vs. Evander Holyfield. It’s Donald Trump vs. Fox News, the feud that seems destined to culminate in a steel cage match at Wrestlemania.
“Fox News has been treating me very unfairly & I have therefore decided that I won’t be doing any more Fox shows for the foreseeable future.” Trump tweeted this week, reigniting a war of words that many – including Fox chairman Roger Ailes – thought was over.
Trump also took exception to Rich Lowry’s appearance on Megyn Kelly’s show, where the National Review editor said that Carly Fiorina had “cut [Trump’s] balls off with the precision of a surgeon” at the last GOP debate. The Republican frontrunner said on Twitter that Lowry was “incompetent,” demanding that the FCC fine him for his use of vulgar language.
Fox host Bill O’Reilly appeared on the Today show to defend the network and criticize Trump. “And then, you know, this machine, this tweeting thing, that’s like the worst thing you could give Donald Trump, is this tweeting thing,” O’Reilly said. “So I just think this is just a extension of his reality show, ‘The Apprentice.’ This is just theater right now.”
Does O’Reilly think Twitter is a box you buy down at Radio Shack?
In any event, Round III of this feud is sure to divide conservatives once again. Fox News has long been an oasis in a vast liberal desert, and it’s only natural that faithful viewers will bristle at Trump’s attacks. At the same time, Fox’s pro-Jeb bias has been obvious for several months, a cause that lends itself to a fairly thick helping of anti-Trump criticism on the network’s shows. Whether they have been “unfair” to Trump is a matter of opinion, but it’s clear that they don’t love his dominance over their chosen candidate.
If Trump needs to be in a controversial feud, there is an endless list of enemies more deserving than Fox News, Bill O’Reilly, and Megyn Kelly. On the other hand, he’s eager to demonstrate that he’s his own man. It’s been a consistent theme of the campaign that he doesn’t want to identify too closely with Republicans, Fox, or politics in general. His strength comes from his refreshing candor and his outsider status, both of which he reinforces every time he takes a swipe at Fox.
For now, it’s entertaining and fun. But there’s no question that Republicans are more divided than they have been in years. If we are to have any hope of defeating the Democrats next November, we’re going to have to find a way to get back on the same page after the primaries are over. Bush, Trump, Fiorina, Carson? If it means avoiding the nightmare of a Hillary Clinton administration, we’ll be glad to take any of them.