Megyn Kelly Responds to Trump Boycotting FNC Debate; ‘He Doesn't Get to Control the Media’

Fox News Channel’s Kelly File host Megyn Kelly took time during the first segment of Tuesday’s show to respond to Donald Trump’s declaration from earlier in the evening that he would not be showing up at Thursday’s final Republican debate before the Iowa caucuses due to his dislike of Kelly as one of the debate moderators. 

Along with recapping the so-called feud between the pair dating back her questioning of Trump in the first GOP debate on August 6th concerning words he’s used to describe various women he doesn’t care for, Kelly shot back that “the truth is he doesn't get to control the media.”

Right off the top, Kelly started her show with a “Breaking Tonight” newsflash and explaining that “just 48 hours before the final presidential debate before the Iowa caucuses take place, and six days before those votes are cast, Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump now says he will skip the Fox News/Google debate.”

Kelly noted that the revelation came down at a press conference attended by FNC correspondent Carl Cameron and spent a few moments laying out their history going back “to August 6th, and the very first Republican debate co-moderated by yours truly” where “Mr. Trump took issue with this question that I posed to him.”

Following the full soundbite of the exchange (see the transcript below), Kelly returned live to chronicle how Trump has spent the months since then invoking it numerous times “as evidence of alleged bias on my part.”

Kelly added that she “maintain[s] it was a tough but fair question and we agreed to disagree” but Trump used part of his weekend to resurrect “his complaints about yours truly arguing that Fox News Chief Roger Ailes should ban me from the debate this Thursday” even though “Fox News had announced back in August that Bret Baier, Chris Wallace and I would be the moderators of this next debate.”

Kelly also played an Instagram video of Trump blasting Kelly as “biased” plus statements from FNC and Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes before later commenting to Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume that “Trump is not used to not controlling things” and “he doesn’t get to control the media”:

I mean, what's interesting here is Trump is not used to not controlling things as the chief executive of a large organization, but the truth is he doesn't get to control the media and while he’s made his position clear about me, after that first debate, Roger Ailes made his position clear, too and you know, when Trump started it up again this past Saturday and then resumed it again and again and again, he was told repeatedly our debate team is settled and then came that Instagram video he put out today followed by the company statements.

Instead of attending the debate, Trump’s campaign ruled in a statement that he “will instead host an event in Iowa to raise money for the Veterans and Wounded Warriors, who have been treated so horribly by our all talk, no action politician.”

The relevant portion of the transcript from FNC’s The Kelly File on January 26 can be found below.

FNC’s The Kelly File
January 26, 2016
9:00 p.m. Eastern

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Breaking Tonight; Donald Trump Says He Will Not Participate in Republican Debate]

MEGYN KELLY: Breaking tonight, just 48 hours before the final presidential debate before the Iowa caucuses take place, and six days before those votes are cast, Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump now says he will skip the Fox News/Google debate. Welcome, to The Kelly File, everyone. I’m Megyn Kelly. The news breaking just a short time ago during a press conference in Iowa where our own Carl Cameron was standing by and spoke directly to Team Trump afterwards. We'll go to Carl in a moment, but first, this controversy dates back to August 6th, and the very first Republican debate co-moderated by yours truly. Mr. Trump took issue with this question that I posed to him. 

KELLY [in FNC’s Republican Presidential Debate on 08/07/15]: 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 —

TRUMP [in FNC’s Republican Presidential Debate on 08/07/15]: Only Rosie O'Donnell.

KELLY [in FNC’s Republican Presidential Debate on 08/07/15]: No, it wasn't. Your Twitter account — 

TRUMP [in FNC’s Republican Presidential Debate on 08/07/15]: Thank you.

KELLY [in FNC’s Republican Presidential Debate on 08/07/15]: For the record, it was well beyond Rosie O'Donnell.

TRUMP [in FNC’s Republican Presidential Debate on 08/07/15]: Yes, I'm sure it was.

KELLY [in FNC’s Republican Presidential Debate on 08/07/15]: 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?

KELLY (live):  In the months since, Mr. Trump has repeatedly brought up that exchange as evidence of alleged bias on my part. I maintain it was a tough but fair question and we agreed to disagree. This past weekend, Mr. Trump resumed his complaints about yours truly arguing that Fox News Chief Roger Ailes should ban me from the debate this Thursday. Fox News had announced back in August that Bret Baier, Chris Wallace and I would be the moderators of this next debate. Mr. Trump's complaints continued through the week, ultimately resulting in a video today he posted to Instagram, hit this issue again, Fox News responded and we'll get to all of that in a moment. As the frontrunner, he was scheduled to be front and center on Thursday night when Fox News hosts the Republican debate in Iowa. Now he says he will not show.

(....)

KELLY: And just to remove the doubt, at least for now, Mr. Trump came out with his campaign statement just moments ago and says he will not be attending. I’m trying to get the exact quote up here. He “will not be participating in the Fox News debate and will instead host an event in Iowa to raise money for veterans and wounded warriors, et cetera.” Carl, thank you. So, how did we arrive here? Earlier today, Donald Trump posted this video. 

TRUMP [in video]: Megyn Kelly's really biased against me. She knows that, I know that. Everybody knows that. Do you really think she could be fair at a debate?

KELLY: He also posted a Twitter poll asking his followers if he should even participate I debate. He had already been told by Fox News that I would. Fox News later today released this tongue in cheek statement that read, quote: “We learned from a secret back channel that the Ayatollah and Putin intend to treat Donald Trump unfairly when they meet with him if he becomes president...a nefarious sources 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.” Further, Fox Chief, our chairman, our chief executive Roger Ailes said: Megyn Kelly is an excellent journalist and the entire network stands behind her - she will absolutely be on the debate state Thursday night.” And just now, he announced he will not.

(....)

KELLY: I mean, what's interesting here is Trump is not us to not controlling things as the chief executive of a large organization, but the truth is he doesn't get to control the media and while he’s made his position clear about me, after that first debate, Roger Ailes made his position clear, too and you know, when Trump started it up again this past Saturday and then resumed it again and again and again, he was told repeatedly our debate team is settled and then came that Instagram video he put out today followed by the company statements.

Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck is the Managing Editor of NewsBusters for the Media Research Center