NORTH CHARLESTON, South Carolina — As his lead shrinks, Donald Trump is finding fault with the media.
The Republican presidential front-runner — whose massive polling lead has recently been shrunk by the rise of two other political outsiders, Carly Fiorina and Dr. Ben Carson – asserted once again on Wednesday that Fox News’ coverage of him was unfair, and vowed he would not appear on the network in “the foreseeable future.” The declaration comes just 41 days after ending his last boycott of the network.
Meanwhile, the network has thrown cold water on Trump’s claims. A Fox News spokesperson said in a statement Wednesday: “At 11:45am today, we canceled Donald Trump’s scheduled appearance on ‘The O’Reilly Factor’ on Thursday, which resulted in Mr. Trump’s subsequent tweet about his ‘boycott’ of FOX News. The press predictably jumped to cover his tweet, creating yet another distraction from any real issues that Mr. Trump might be questioned about. When coverage doesn’t go his way, he engages in personal attacks on our anchors and hosts, which has grown stale and tiresome. He doesn’t seem to grasp that candidates telling journalists what to ask is not how the media works in this country.”
Trump stood by his earlier statements in a retort released later on Wednesday. “As a candidate for President of the United States and the definitive front-runner in every poll, both nationally and state wide, including the just released poll in the state of Florida, Mr. Trump expects to be treated fairly,” his campaign said. “All you have to do is look at the tremendous ratings last night from ‘The Late Show with Stephen Colbert’, where Mr. Trump was the guest, or the ratings from both debates, to fully understand the facts.”
The feud peaked just hours before Trump is to kick off another brief campaign swing through South Carolina. In the early afternoon, he’ll meet with black voters when he addresses the South Carolina African American Chamber in North Charleston. After that, he’ll jet off to Columbia for a town hall hosted by South Carolina Republican Sen. Tim Scott.
This isn’t Trump’s first kerfuffle with Fox: After the first debate, where the real estate mogul argued he’d been questioned unfairly, Trump executed a full-court press in complaining about his treatment by host Megyn Kelly and avoided the network for days. A truce was negotiated by Fox News’ President Roger Ailes, who Trump said promised the front-runner fair treatment. But the feud began brewing again last night, when Trump posted that he was “having a hard time” watching Fox. He went on to again slam Kelly in two tweets.
Trump visits South Carolina at the same time as Fiorina, who is here on a seven-city, three-day tour that has become a bit of a victory lap. She’ll file for the South Carolina primary in Columbia just hours before Trump arrives for a town hall event. After the last debate — where she left Trump temporarily speechless at one point — she surged to second place behind Trump in a CNN/ORC poll. In turn, Trump amped up his attacks on her, tweeting that she’s a “robot” and “terrible at business.”
The Fiorina campaign appears to revel in the attention. “It might seem that Donald Trump’s getting a little nervous,” she told reporters after a campaign event in Myrtle Beach. “I’m getting under his skin a little bit.”