The New York Times reported that Megyn Kelly’s book says that Republican President-elect Donald Trump secretly obtained the most controversial debate question of the entire campaign, in advance.
It lays bare Republican’s chummy relationship with Fox News which ran straight through the top of the network. Former Fox News Chief Roger Ailes is the most likely source of the leak, giving Donald Trump the leg up on his own anchor in the most watched debate of 2015 and likely the entire Republican primary. The Times reports:
Then, the day before the first presidential debate, Mr. Trump was in a lather again, Ms. Kelly writes. He called Fox executives, saying he’d heard that her first question “was a very pointed question directed at him.” This disconcerted her, because it was true: It was about his history of using disparaging language about women.
She doesn’t speculate where the leak came from. (She reports. You decide.) But that’s another unambiguous takeaway from this book: Parts of Fox — or, at the very least, Roger Ailes, the network’s chairman until July, when he was given the boot after several allegations of sexual harassment were made against him — seemed to be nakedly colluding with the Republican presidential nominee.
“Folks were starting to worry about Trump — his level of agitation did not match the circumstances,” Ms. Kelly writes. “Yes, it was his first debate. But this was bizarre behavior, especially for a man who wanted the nuclear codes.”
Ms. Kelly also spoke about enduring Trump’s incitement via Twitter last year, resulting in a flood of venomous bile by his supporters via email, voicemail and social media networks. Her own news network employer hung her out to dry, preferring to placate and appease a bully.
Lastly, the Times’ article also contains an important clue to the future of Fox News, pointing out that Ms. Kelly called Lachlan Murdoch first, after the lawsuit Roger Ailes settled for his sexual predations. She is currently in the final year of her Fox News contract, and News Corp. founder Rupert Murdoch is so desperate to keep her that he’s given a rare public comment begging Megyn Kelly to stay at the network. This news indicates that Lachlan Murdoch is the most likely successor to the family media empire.
When it was revealed that acting DNC Chairwoman Donna Brazile smuggled out a single question from CNN to the Clinton campaign, Republicans went into a frenzy. Ultimately, Brazile was forced to resign from the network over a question about what Hillary Clinton might do to help the residents of Flint, Michigan whom Republicans afflicted with lead poisoned water. Trump himself tweeted this about the incident:
Voter fraud! Crooked Hillary Clinton even got the questions to a debate, and nobody says a word. Can you imagine if I got the questions?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 17, 2016
News that Republicans at the highest levels of the campaign and news network leaked the first pointed, adversarial question posed by anyone in the news media at Trump during the primary season shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone. What’s shocking is that the entire rest of the news media blew up the same issue when it came to the Clinton campaign.
If there’s one fact that stinks to high heaven about the entire affair, it is that Megan Kelly didn’t report about this Republican question incident during the election, or at the same time that stolen emails caused major embarrassment to Democrats.
Sadly, Megyn Kelly must have been rightfully afraid of incurring the wrath of Trump in mid-October. For that reason, Ms. Kelly abandoned her duty to report the news without fear or favor, because clearly fear factored into the timing of her reports. But honestly, who can blame Megyn Kelly for fearing to do her job at Fox News when management tossed her under the bus before she could even ask a single tough question, the very first time she tried to skeptically report the news?
That’s what happens when news networks bail out on reporters who do the most difficult work: the true public service of hard hitting, skeptical journalism, and why Fox News is incapable of performing that task.
For those blaming the media for the shocking results of this week’s election, here’s a good place to start.
Grant Stern is the Executive Editor of Occupy Democrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report, and a senior advisor to the Democratic Coalition