Trump says Fox News chief has promised him fair coverage
WASHINGTON (AP) — Presidential candidate Donald Trump’s turbulent relationship with Fox News showed signs of improvement Monday even as Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton seized on the billionaire businessman’s clash with the network to cast the entire 2016 Republican presidential field as being bad for women.
Trump and Fox News, one of the most powerful voices in Republican and conservative circles, have been in a bitter feud since last Thursday’s presidential debate. While he leads recent Republican presidential polls, the former reality television star has drawn heated criticism from many in his own party for saying on CNN that Fox debate moderator Megyn Kelly had “blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.”
Trump insisted Monday that he never intended to say anything inappropriate about Kelly, one of the most popular hosts on the most watched U.S. cable news network.
But Trump maintains he was treated unfairly in a series of tough questions, including one from Kelly about Trump’s history of negative statements about women. Kelly asked the real estate mogul about his use of words such as “dog,” ″fat” and “disgusting” to insult women and whether it reflected the “temperament of a man we should elect as president.”
He maintained Monday that he never intended to say anything inappropriate about Kelly and said the uproar over his criticism was “all fueled by the press.”
“This wasn’t meant to be much of an insult,” he told NBC’s “Today” show.
Trump’s unconventional, insurgent campaign and his series of incendiary comments have vaulted him into an early lead in the race for the Republican presidential nomination just half a year before the first nominating contests in Iowa and New Hampshire. While Trump is considered unlikely to win the Republican presidential nomination, he has enthralled anti-establishment conservatives with his bellicose statements and confounded party leaders trying to bring order to an unwieldy field of 17 candidates.
So far, the self-funded Trump has proved to be immune from what would be viewed as missteps by any other candidate. It will be several days before public polling shows whether he was damaged by his caustic comments about Kelly.
Trump tweeted Monday that Fox News chairman Roger Ailes had reached out to him directly Monday, assuring him he’ll be “treated fairly” by the station. Trump appeared on several Sunday morning TV news shows, but not on Fox.
“Roger Ailes just called. He is a great guy & assures me that ‘Trump’ will be treated fairly on @FoxNews. His word is always good!” wrote Trump.
In a statement Monday evening, Ailes described the conversation as “blunt but cordial” and said the air had been cleared.
“Donald Trump and I spoke today. We discussed our concerns, and I again expressed my confidence in Megyn Kelly,” Ailes said, describing Kelly as “a brilliant journalist” whom he supports “100 percent.”
Ailes added that he assured Trump “that we will continue to cover this campaign with fairness & balance.”
Addressing what she referred to as the “dustup” for the first time on her show Monday night, Kelly defended what she described as a “tough but fair question” during the debate.
“We agree to disagree,” she said at the opening of her show, adding that she had decided not to respond to personal attacks he’d lodged against her.
“Trump, who is the front-runner, will not apologize. And I certainly will not apologize for doing good journalism,” she said. “So I’ll continue doing my job without fear or favor. And Mr. Trump, I expect, will continue with what has been a successful campaign thus far.”
Trump is scheduled to return to Fox News on Tuesday, with appearances on two of the network’s shows, “Fox & Friends” and “Hannity,” a Fox News spokeswoman said.
Trump’s latest remarks have unnerved some in a Republican Party that has long wrestled with the public perception that it is waging a “war on women” and has struggled to convince more women that it’s on their side.
Speaking publicly for the first time since the Republican debate, Clinton on Monday seized on Trump’s comments about Kelly. She said his remarks should not overshadow the rest of the Republican candidates’ policies dealing with women.
“They brag about slashing women’s health care funding,” Clinton told reporters while campaigning in New Hampshire. “They say they would force women who have been raped to carry their rapist’s child, and we don’t hear any of them supporting raising the minimum wage, paid leave for new parents, access to quality child care, equal pay for women or anything else that will help to give women a chance to get ahead.”
Trump’s remarks about Kelly resulted in him being disinvited from a major conservative gathering over the weekend and also earned criticism from other Republican presidential contenders, including the only female, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, who said that Trump’s comments were “completely inappropriate and offensive.”
Associated Press writer Jocelyn Noveck in New York and Kathleen Ronayne in Exeter, New Hampshire, contributed to this report.