"Conservatives Furious at Fox, Say Trump Wasn't Treated Fairly," read the Newsmax headline Friday. Talk-radio show host Mark Levin told Breitbart News it was "outrageous" that moderator Megyn Kelly questioned Donald Trump about his coarse language -- "fat pigs, dogs, slobs" -- referring to women. Levin complained it was "a National Enquirer debate, not a Republican debate," with too much "opposition research." Political analyst Dick Morris detected a "disturbing" trend at Fox. The conservative blog Media Equalizer offered that many conservatives "thought they might have been watching MSNBC by mistake."
So this is what happens when Trump meets up with the "news" part of Fox News. Conservatives frequently complain about liberal media bias. Then they complain when conservative media practice journalism.
The Trump-Kelly feud is like crack for cable TV news. CNN's Jake Tapper started Monday's "The Lead" by noting that conservatives wanted the media to cover such stories as Democratic politicians turning on President Barack Obama's Iran deal, a trip made by Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps chief Qassem Soleimani to Russia in defiance of a U.N. Security Council ban or "black lives matter" activists shouting down Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders. But after The Donald told CNN on Friday that he could see the blood coming out of Kelly's eyes -- and "wherever" -- Tapper suggested he had no choice but to lead Monday's show with Trump's tirade.
To keep the vapid story alive Monday, Trump the Bombast trash-tweeted Kelly. He sent out a link to a 2010 Howard Stern interview in which Kelly talked about her sex life: "Oh really, check out innocent @megynkelly discussion on @HowardStern show 5 years ago -- I am the innocent (pure) one!" Translation: She had it coming.
Mayhap Trump wants fans to forget the opening question of the prime-time debate. Fox moderator Bret Baier asked the 10 GOP hopefuls to raise a hand if they were unwilling to pledge to support the eventual Republican nominee and not run a third-party campaign. Trump alone raised his hand. Many in the audience booed Trump. (In a 2011 GOP primary debate, Baier asked hopefuls to raise a hand if they would accept a budget deal with $1 in tax increases for each $10 in spending cuts. Not one Republican raised a hand -- a stark signal that compromise would not be on the GOP menu.)
All three Fox News anchors asked questions that begged to be asked. Fox News moderator Chris Wallace asked Trump about his four corporate bankruptcies. "Four times, I've taken advantage of the laws," Trump answered. "And frankly, so has everybody else in my position."
All three moderators asked probing questions that explored each candidate's weaknesses. That was a service to Republicans who want a nominee who can win in November. Fox News would have been remiss to not include a question about Trump's big mouth. I can only hope that the know-nothings who trash Fox News Channel without watching its news programs tuned in. And I can only hope that CNN asks equally pointed questions at the Democrats' first primary debate, which will be on Oct. 13.