During The Kelly File on Wednesday night, Megyn Kelly issued a calm, thoughtful response to Donald Trump's debate boycott. Kelly once again denied the reasoning behind Trump's boycott — which was, ICYMI, that she exhibited bias against the GOP front-runner. Referencing the Aug. 6 Fox News GOP debate as the beginning of the feud between herself and Trump, Kelly made the following statement on air.
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 Brett Baier, Chris Wallace, and I would be the moderators of this next debate.
The response was well-executed. In structuring her comment like a news brief rather than a personal statement, Kelly avoided any further accusations of bias and was able to keep the focus on Trump's actions rather than her own. The majority of the attacks have been from Trump directed at Kelly, rather than the other way around, and by reminding viewers that she is dispassionate and professional, Kelly played the situation to her advantage.
However, Trump isn't entirely blameless in perpetuating the feud. Kelly was featured on the January cover of Vanity Fair and her remarks about Trump were featured extensively during her lengthy interview, including the revelation that Trump allegedly sent her press clippings to "woo" her before he made his campaign announcement. "I can’t be wooed. I was never going to love him, and I was never going to hate him.”
Trump vehemently denied the claim, tweeting "who the hell wants to woo her." Kelly's divulgence of that information kept the media brawl alive, but Trump responded to her balanced statement with a personal attack, showing who the aggressor of the situation really is.
Kelly's coverage of the boycott also subtly reminded viewers that the network was choosing her over Trump, which was reiterated in a statement released by the network on Monday. “Sooner or later Donald Trump, even if he’s president, is going to have to learn that he doesn’t get to pick the journalists,” stated a Fox News spokesperson. “We’re very surprised he’s willing to show that much fear about being questioned by Megyn Kelly.” The support for Kelly from the network discredits Trump, who looks weaker now that his presence isn't the bargaining chip he once claimed it would be.
The feud between Trump and Kelly won't play out live on air Thursday night, but that's no excuse not to watch. The candidates will have an interesting and unique opportunity to interact without the front-runner present, and the debate should be fascinatingly different than those previous. Trump typically falls in the top three candidates for talking time, and how that disperses between the candidates who do show up will be very revealing. Tune in to Fox News on Thursday night at 7 p.m. ET to watch it all go down.