Roger Ailes’ History With Donald Trump Is A "Friendly Relationship" That Goes Back Decades
The relationship that presidential candidate Donald Trump has with the chairman and CEO of Fox News, Roger Ailes, has been depicted as... rocky. That's following Trump's complaints about Megyn Kelly's line of questioning at the August GOP debate hosted on the news channel. He lay into Kelly and the network (and hasn't quite stopped). But — despite asking the Donald, "What the hell is wrong with you?" — Ailes and Trump are closer than you might think.
Trump stirred up the debate again over the weekend when he — what else? — tweeted that Megyn Kelly shouldn't be allowed to moderate Thursday's GOP debate, claiming she has a "conflict of interest and bias." This is the second debate to be hosted by Fox News and a potential round two of Trump vs. Kelly with all the intense questioning that comes with it. Fox News responded in a statement, saying that she will be there: "Megyn Kelly has no conflict of interest. Donald Trump is just trying to build up the audience for Thursday's debate, for which we thank him.”
Trump's positioning himself against Fox News comes some 30 years into a friendship — or at least relationship of a friendly variety — with Ailes. That's what Ailes told Adweek during a sit-down in November after being asked about the feud with Megyn Kelly:
Look, I've always had the same relationship with Donald for 30 years. It's a friendly relationship, surprisingly enough. I did call him after the first go-round and I said, "What the hell is wrong with you? The United States is at war with every goddamn country in the Middle East and you're at war with Megyn Kelly and you think that looks good? It doesn't look good."
At the time, Ailes also publicly admonished his old friendly acquaintance. He called on Trump to apologize and defended Kelly in a statement. "Megyn Kelly represents the very best of American journalism and all of us at Fox News Channel reject the crude and irresponsible attempts to suggest otherwise," he said at the time.
Trump — when singling out Ailes and not the network — has been much friendlier. Even in the midst of Trump's complaints about the network, he has made a point to say good things about Ailes. "Roger Ailes is great. He's a special guy and a good friend of mine. We just spoke two minutes ago. I mean, Roger Ailes is a great guy and no, I have no problem,” Trump said to radio host Laura Ingraham, according to Politico.
The two met just days after Trump announced his run for presidency in June. They had lunch privately at the 21st Century Fox headquarters in Manhattan. According to Politico, sources said the two discussed some aspects of the 2016 campaign in detail. The sources also said the two correspond frequently.
In many ways, conflict between Fox News and Trump has worked out well for both parties. They both have good ratings — Trump in the polls and Fox News in primetime. Thursday's debate should prove it.