- President Donald Trump was questioned about past demeaning statements about women in a high-octane clash with Fox News host Megyn Kelly during the 2016 election campaign.
- According to a New Yorker investigation, Trump may have been tipped off about Kelly’s question by Roger Ailes, then CEO of the network, and an ardent Trump supporter.
- Trump Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton when it emerged a CNN contributor had tipped off her campaign about questions.
- Fox News has denied the allegations, and in a 2016 interview Kelly said that Ailes “did not oversee” her preperation for the debate.
Roger Ailes, the former Fox News CEO and chairman, tipped off Donald Trump about debate questions in which he was was grilled about his alleged misogyny during the 2016 election campaign, The New Yorker reported Monday.
The encounter was with then-Fox host Megyn Kelly, who asked Trump to comment on past insults he had used against women, which she suggested could show his unfitness for office.
Trump parried the question, turning it into a joke about the comedian Rosie O’Donnell. The encounter helped establish a reputation for being able to shake off any allegation, however severe.
The report also suggests that Trump benefitted from advance knowledge of questions – an allegation he levelled at Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, whom he said was getting help from CNN.
A Fox News spokeswoman directed Business Insider to a denial of the allegations it issued to the New Yorker, and to on-the-record comments by Kelly, where she said that Ailes “did not oversee” her preparation for the debate, and that she and others “wrote our own questions.”
During the encounter, Megyn Kelly confronted Trump with his past statements on women, saying: “”You’ve called women you don’t like, ‘fat pigs,’ ‘dogs,’ ‘slobs,’ and ‘disgusting animals.”
Trump interrupted her with a joke: “Only Rosie O’Donnell.” The audience laughed and cheered.
Kelly continued: “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 is likely to be the Democratic nominee, that you are part of the war on women?”
Trump’s response was to attack political correctness.
He said: “I’ve been challenged by so many people, and I don’t, frankly, have time for total political correctness. And to be honest with you, this country doesn’t have time either.”
In a subsequent interview, Trump infamously said of Kelly that “there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever” during the clash.
But according to the New Yorker story probing Trump’s close ties with Fox News, he may have known it was coming.
Two Fox insiders and a source close to Trump suggested the magazine that Ailes informed the Trump campaign about Kelly’s questions before the live debate.
Two of the sources claimed that they were informed of the tip-off by somebody who witnessed it.
The confrontation, reports The New Yorker’s Jane Meyer, helped “shape Trump’s image as shamelessly unsinkable. It also kicked off a feud between Trump and Fox, in which Trump briefly boycotted the channel, hurting its ratings and forcing Ailes to grovel.”
Trump on the campaign trail had lambasted his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton, after leaked emails showed that that CNN commentator and interim Democratic National Committee chair Donna Brazile had tipped her off about likely debate questions.
Ailes resigned from Fox News in July 2016 following a series of sexual harassment allegations, one of which was from Kelly. He died in May 2017.