As we’ve repeatedly noted, Fox News has been one of Donald Trump’s biggest cheerleaders, even as uber boss Rupert Murdoch decried him. So why did Fox target Trump in last night’s debate? I think there’s only one answer: self-interest.
Roger Ailes biographer Gabriel Sherman has some interesting deets on what happened:
It was a breakup days in the making. Over the past week, Ailes and his executives had been strategizing about how to deal with Trump. The prospect that the Donald could hijack the debate presented programming and political perils for both Ailes and his star anchors. What if Trump started insulting his GOP rivals onstage? Or broke the debate rules? During a meeting at Fox late last week, according to a source, senior Fox executives discussed a more worrisome scenario: What would happen if Trump won over the audience and moved the crowd to boo moderators Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly, and Chris Wallace on live television? What if Trump was able to direct his base of supporters to stop watching Fox? To prevent that from happening, Ailes needed a way to keep the audience firmly on the side of his moderators.