Did Rush Limbaugh force Fox News, in the wake of the Donald Trump/Megyn Kelly dust-up, to back down and welcome Trump back on its network? That's what New York Times reporter Nick Confessore suggested on today's Morning Joe.
Asked by Mika Brzezinski who was the most powerful person in the media today, Confessore responded: "I think Fox or Rush Limbaugh [whose last name Confessore pronounced "Lim-bow], right? In this primary, right? There were two institutions that could have put a stop to Trump, talk radio and Fox. And talk radio likes him and Fox backed down."
HuffPo's Sam Stein essentially seconded Confessore's notion. Mika took a different tack, arguing that Trump himself is the most powerful person in media.
NB readers are invited to weigh in: did Fox News invite Trump back on because Rush supported him, or independent of Rush's views did Fox feel the need to have the GOP frontrunner on its shows?
Note: Rush often observes that "when they say 'talk radio' they mean Rush," and here Confessore made that connection explicit.
Note segundo: Confessore conforms to the annoying habit, common among lefties, of ending declarative sentences with an agreement-seeking "right?" He did it three times in the course of his brief comments.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Joining the conversation, political writer for the New York Times, Nicholas Confessore. Nick, who is the most powerful person in the Republican party right now?
NICK CONFESSORE: I think it's Trump. Right? You would think who could take them on --
MIKA: Who is the most powerful person in the media right now?
SAM STEIN: Besides you?
CONFESSORE: I think Fox or Rush Limbaugh, right?
SAM STEIN: It's Roger Ailes.
CONFESSORE: In this primary, in this primary, right? There were two institutions that could have put a stop to Trump: talk radio and Fox. And talk radio likes him and Fox backed down.
MIKA: Who is the most powerful person in media again, Nick?
STEIN: Roger Ailes. It's Roger Ailes. And he backed down on the Trump/Megyn Kelly feud, yeah.
MIKA: That answer seems like you're not saying the same thing.
STEIN: No, I think we are saying the same thing. There's actually three institutions I think in the Republican party. There's talk radio. There's Fox News, which is run by Roger Ailes. I think the Drudge Report also could be put up there as one of the more powerful institutions on the right. And I think Trump by and large is coveted by all three and there was a moment there when he risked that fissure of a relationship with Fox News and Fox News backed down. They didn't defend their key anchor and they brought him back on air.
MIKA: So, I would think the answer to the question of who is the most powerful person in media would be Donald Trump. You didn't say that.
STEIN: Well, that was a trick question.
MIKA: No, it really wasn't.