Fox News chairman Roger Ailes on Monday reportedly told real estate tycoon Donald Trump to make nice with the powerful network or else “go to war.”
CNN Money’s Brian Stelter reported late Wednesday that Ailes was angered when Trump appeared Monday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and said that he believed Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly owed him an apology for her tough questions in last week’s Republican presidential debate.
The remark prompted Ailes to call up Trump and say the two could “resolve this now” or “go to war,” two anonymous sources told Stelter.
Spokespeople for both men declined to comment on the call to CNN Money. A spokeswoman for Fox also declined to comment further to TPM.
Ailes’ and Trump’s public statements on the conversation made clear that the pair had buried the hatchet, but didn’t really get into specifics, either.
“Donald Trump and I spoke today. We discussed our concerns, and I again expressed my confidence in Megyn Kelly. She is a brilliant journalist and I support her 100 percent,” the Fox boss said in a statement late Monday. “I assured him that we will continue to cover this campaign with fairness & balance. We had a blunt but cordial conversation and the air has been cleared.”
Trump acknowledged the conversation with Ailes in a Tuesday interview with CNN. When asked whether he and Fox made a deal to keep Kelly from responding to the billionaire’s escalating attacks, Trump said he “didn’t even discuss that” with Ailes.
Stelter’s reporting on what was said between the two political heavyweights also stood in contrast to an earlier report from New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman.
Sherman reported that Ailes asked Trump to appear on Kelly’s primetime show to clear the air, but the billionaire refused and instead agreed to appear on the friendly territory of “Fox & Friends” and “Hannity.” Sherman’s anonymous sources said that afterward Ailes called Trump several times “’begging’ him to tweet out that they had made peace.”
In addition, TVNewser reported Thursday that there was no discussion about Trump appearing on Kelly’s show, citing a “high level” anonymous source with knowledge of the situation at Fox News.
““Roger could have played the feud out to a ratings bonanza all over Fox
for a week,” the source told TVNewser. “He put Megyn above that
and knew the high road was the best way to preserve and protect her
dignity, integrity and class–and her safety.”
This post has been updated.