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Six short words explain why Donald Trump quit Fox News debate

fox news
Graphic: Salon.com. Photo: Fox News.

The Donald Trump campaign’s 271-word statement about skipping the next debate is short, clear, and free of jargon. But it could have been much shorter, only six words: “I am afraid of Megyn Kelly.”

I believe his strategic calculation was that this debate would not help him — people already know who he is — but that tangling again with Fox Anchor Megyn Kelly is a mistake. She’s the only person in campaign 2016 who has gotten the better of him, and he doesn’t look good bullying her. In the Trump supporter’s sexist mindset, it’s fine for him to bully men or older women like Hillary Clinton or Carly Fiorina, but Kelly is thin, blond, conservative, well-spoken, attractive, and not running for office, so you’re supposed to be nice to her.

If Trump actually doesn’t want Fox to make money off of him — as he says — then he’ll skip all the future debates as well. Won’t happen. Trump knows that you run campaigns to be president, not to make money. (That part comes later, after you lose).

It’s sort of fun that the statement is clearly written by Trump, it’s in the third person. It reminds me of Reggie Jackson saying saying “Reggie doesn’t do these things.”

I deconstruct the Trump statement below, providing for each segment both a short version and the truth.

Trump Campaign Statement on Fox News Debate

(New York, NY) January 26th, 2016 – As someone who wrote one of the best-selling business books of all time, The Art of the Deal, who has built an incredible company, including some of the most valuable and iconic assets in the world, and as someone who has a personal net worth of many billions of dollars, Mr. Trump knows a bad deal when he sees one. FOX News is making tens of millions of dollars on debates, and setting ratings records (the highest in history), where as in previous years they were low-rated afterthoughts. [Short version: I make money, so I should get paid when you make money. True version: I need an excuse to avoid this debate.]

Unlike the very stupid, highly incompetent people running our country into the ground, Mr. Trump knows when to walk away. Roger Ailes and FOX News think they can toy with him, but Mr. Trump doesn’t play games. There have already been six debates, and according to all online debate polls including Drudge, Slate, Time Magazine, and many others, Mr. Trump has won all of them, in particular the last one. Whereas he has always been a job creator and not a debater, he nevertheless truly enjoys the debating process – and it has been very good for him, both in polls and popularity. [Short: I like to debate, but I’m bored and don’t have the patience for this. True: I’m taking my ball and going home.]

He will not be participating in the FOX News debate and will instead host an event in Iowa to raise money for the Veterans and Wounded Warriors, who have been treated so horribly by our all talk, no action politicians. Like running for office as an extremely successful person, this takes guts and it is the kind of mentality our country needs in order to Make America Great Again. [Short: I like veterans and looking good more than I like Fox News. True: I needed to do something to distract myself so I don’t end up live tweeting the Fox News debate.]

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  1. Whether Trump is afraid or not he should attend the debate. If he has a problem with Megyn Kelly then he should have got some media training to handle her questions so as not to lose his cool. Just like most people, Presidents have to deal with things that they would rather not but have to and do. What comes across is Trump the business person not Trump the potential Presidential nominee. It is also disrespectful to the American public.

  2. I think you’re wrong, Josh. Trump is not afraid of Megyn Kelly or any other moderator. His reason for saying he’ll boycott this next debate is simply the same reason he has for all of his actions – publicity. He has caused (another) fuss, received more air time and ink, and is putting “them” – whomever he focuses on – on the defensive. He’s hoping they will plead with him to attend; if they do, he wins. If they don’t, he gets a lot of attention anyway, especially since he’s planning this parallel event to benefit veterans’ organizations. I surely hope none of those organizations include any veterans who were captured; Trump likes warriors who weren’t captured.

    Can you imagine what Trump would say if any of the other candidates decided to boycott the debate. Again, it would attempt to make that other candidate look very bad and make Trump look like a champion.