After Donald Trump launched another verbal assault against Fox News host Megyn Kelly, as we reported earlier today, Fox News boss Roger Ailes waded into the skirmish to defend Kelly.
USA Today reports that Ailes lashed out today at what he called Trump’s “surprise and unprovoked attack on Megyn Kelly.” Ailes said Kelly “represents the very best of American journalism,” and called on Trump to apologize. Ailes also called the attack by Trump “disturbing.”
Trump, however, wasn’t backing down. He told Politico: “I totally disagree with the Fox statement. I do not think Megyn Kelly is a quality journalist. I think her questioning of me, despite all of the polls saying I won the debate, was very unfair. Hopefully in the future I will be proven wrong and she will be able to elevate her standards to a level of professionalism that a network such as Fox deserves.”
The statement from Ailes was strongly supportive of Kelly. “Her questioning of Mr. Trump at the debate was tough but fair, and I fully support her as she continues to ask the probing and challenging questions that all presidential candidates may find difficult to answer,” Ailes said.
He added: “Donald Trump rarely apologizes, although in this case, he should. We have never been deterred by politicians or anyone else attacking us for doing our job, much less allowed ourselves to be bullied by anyone and we’re certainly not going to start now.”
Other Fox News mainstays, including Sean Hannity and Bret Baier, also sent messages supporting Kelly. In a tweet today, Hannity called Trump “my friend,” but called on him to ease up on Kelly, USA Today reports.
Fortune notes that Baier, who co-moderated the debate earlier this month that launched the feud, released a tweet saying Trump’s attack “needs to stop.”
The Fortune report also notes: “Even if things calm down in the short term, don’t expect peace to last. Kelly is scheduled to moderate the January debate on Fox, and it is unlikely that either she or Trump will take a more conciliatory approach.”