Fox News has released a statement accusing Donald Trump’s campaign manager of threatening Megyn Kelly. According to Fox, campaign manager Corey Lewandowski stated in a call to a Fox News executive that Kelly had a “rough couple of days after that last debate” and he “would hate to have her go through that again.”
The threat, though only to initiate another war of words, was inappropriate. It reminds me of Team Obama’s approach to journalists, as described in testimony before Congress by former CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson. She expressed concern about the “serious, long-term damage to a supposedly free press” by the Obama administration, which “bullies and threatens access of journalists who do their jobs, news organizations that publish stories they don’t like, and whistleblowers who dare to tell the truth.”
If Fox News’ claim is accurate, this is quite similar to what Team Trump just did.
The message has already been received: if you cross the administration with perfectly accurate reporting that they don’t like, you will be attacked and punished. You and your sources may be subjected to the kind of surveillance devised for enemies of the state.
Team Trump hasn’t gone this far yet. But who can say with any confidence that a President Trump wouldn’t conduct himself similarly?
Fox News isn’t blameless in the current dust-up with Fox News (although Kelly herself is, in my view). Its snarky, juvenile “statement” about Trump conducting a Twitter poll on whether to meet with Putin and the Iranian Ayatollah was inappropriate conduct from a news outlet that purports to be neutral.
Trump expressed his disgust by refusing to appear in the Fox News debate. This certainly was his prerogative. Attempting to intimidate Fox News by threatening to make life hellish for Megyn Kelly was not.
For her part, Kelly seemed, if anything, to be enjoying life even more than usual during her program last night. Good for her.