A controversial Donald Trump campaign polled number one going into the Republican debate Aug. 6.
Conservative media darling FOX News loved Trump going in. Check out these Trump-happy pre-Aug. 6 headlines:
- "Gretchen's Take: Donald Trump's Popularity Continues to Grow" on Aug. 4;
- "In the Battle of Billionaires, Howard Schultz Doesn't Measure Up to Trump" on Aug. 5;
- "Trump Crushes Competition in New Poll Ahead of GOP Debate" on Aug. 3;
- "The Trump Revolution: Has The Donald Transformed the GOP?" on Aug. 3;
- "What Would a Donald Trump White House Look Like?" on Aug. 3; and
- "Is Trump the One-Man, 2016 Tea Party Wave" on Aug. 2.
But a noticeable shift occurred following last week's debate. Take a look at these headlines that we never would have seen in the FOX News line-up prior to Aug. 6:
- "Halftime Report: Trump the Biggest Baby to Seek Office" on Aug. 10;
- "Donald Trump's Policy Approach a Mystery amid Lack of Detail" on Aug. 10;
- "Trump Loses Republican Debate but Rubio, Cruz, and Others Triumph" on Aug. 7; and
- "Is Donald Trump Part of the 'War on Women'?" on Aug. 7.
What gives? After the debate, Trump remains the GOP's greatest hope – he topped the latest NBC News online poll taken Aug. 7-8 at 23%. (Next highest was Sen. Ted Cruz at a mere 13%.) The most recent Reuters/Ipsos poll showed the debate did little to change Republican voters' opinions of Trump. One-third said they liked him more after the debate, one-third said they liked him less, and the remaining third said their opinions had not changed.
Then why is the Republicans' favorite media network at odds with the Republicans' favorite candidate?
There are several causes media outlets, including FOX News, would have you believe are behind the FOX News-Trump breakup.
But there's only one real answer – and it's being buried with noise…
Why the Donald Trump Campaign Is Under Friendly Fire
The Donald Trump campaign has suffered a number of hits following the GOP debate – any one of which could be the reason FOX News dumped The Donald.
Trump's aggressive words toward popular network anchor and debate moderator Megyn Kelly is the most highly touted. (During the debate, Kelly pointedly called Trump out on his "war on women" and read aloud specific examples of alleged misogynistic statements. Trump responded, in part, by saying, "I've been very nice to you, although I could probably not be based on the way you have treated me.")
For example, The Washington Post wrote on Aug. 8, "A consensus is forming in Republican circles that Trump's eruption over Kelly and other Fox News anchors makes his campaign anything but serious."
This Trump-Kelly rift continued well past the debate. He let tweets like this fly:
And late Friday on CNN, Trump commented Kelly had "blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever." He later clarified that "wherever" referred to her nose.
Two more hits to the Trump campaign came Saturday.
First, Trump was uninvited from the annual RedState Gathering – an influential conservative powwow held in Atlanta over the weekend. Trump was to have been Saturday's keynote speaker. Erick Erickson, the RedState.com editor, said he "disinvited" Trump for the comments he'd made about Kelly.
Second, Trump and his top campaign adviser Roger Stone cut ties. Both sides are pointing fingers over who fired whom.
"Roger wanted to use the campaign for his own personal publicity… and Mr. Trump wants to keep the focus of the campaign on how to Make America Great Again," a campaign spokesperson told CNN.
Meanwhile, Stone fired off these tweets:
But the real reason FOX News is at odds with the Donald Trump campaign has nothing to do with Kelly or Stone – and has everything to do with establishment politics.
You see, in the opening 30 seconds of the GOP debate, the real-estate billionaire refused to pledge to support the Republican nominee and not run as a third-party candidate. Moderator Bret Baier asked that candidates who refused to take the pledge raise their hand. Trump's immediately went up in the air.
"I cannot say. I have to respect the person that if it's not me, the person that wins," he said.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus has directly called on all candidates to pledge not to make a third-party run.
Disobey establishment command, and the RNC can easily lock Trump out of future debates. It can withhold from him crucial voter data.
And it can pit FOX News – the voice box of the RNC – against the Donald Trump campaign.
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