OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
The relationship between Fox News and former President Donald Trump appears to be officially on the rocks.
The network cut away from a live speech Trump was giving on Monday after he criticized the network and stood up for its former top host, Tucker Carlson, according to a video clip posted by Mediaite.
Fox had carried Trump’s speech to rallygoers in South Carolina on Monday for quite some time, but “it wasn’t until the former president began talking about his appearance on Carlson’s show, 13 minutes into his speech, that the network promptly cut away,” Mediaite noted.
As Trump began touting his growing lead over the other GOP presidential rivals in nearly all national polls, he said, “We’re going up, and we’re the only ones going up. They’re going down, and they’re going down, down, down.
Trump then mentioned the GOP debates, one of which has already aired on Fox News — which he skipped in favor of the Carlson interview — and the other set for Thursday, moderated by Fox Business. He doesn’t plan on attending that one, either.
“They ought to stop wasting their time,” he said of the other Republican contenders. “You know, they’re wasting a lot of time with these ridiculous debates that nobody’s watching.”
“Their last debate was the lowest-rated debate in history. That’s a good compliment. Now, what was I doing — I was someplace else, wasn’t I? I was doing another interview. We had 271 million people listening to the Tucker Carlson interview. That’s an all-time record,” Trump said.
As the crowd began to cheer, Fox host Martha MacCallum cut in.
“So here we are, back in the thick of campaign season. We are now just four months away from the Iowa primaries. And you see former President Trump in a place where you would expect to see him today and in the days to come, South Carolina,” MacCallum said.
Fox News cuts away from the Donald Trump rally after he talks about how his interview with Tucker Carlson on 𝕏 outperformed the GOP debate.
— ALX 🇺🇸 (@alx) September 25, 2023
Fox News hoped to draw in massive viewership numbers for the first 2024 Republican primary debate even though Trump opted to sit for an interview with Carlson instead.
And while the network managed to bring in around 12.8 million viewers, according to the Nielsen ratings system, that is far short of the number the network drew in August 2015, the first GOP primary debate that included the then-soon-to-be president.
Wednesday’s viewership number is “a decline of almost 50% from the more than 24 million people who tuned in when Donald Trump appeared in his first presidential debate in August 2015,” Newsmax reported last month.
The outlet noted further:
The “Trump effect” was again witnessed in a January 2016 Republican primary debate hosted by Fox News that Trump also skipped — that debate also drew about 12.5 million people.
Trump said he boycotted the Republican debate this week for a number of reasons, including his large lead over other GOP rivals in the polls.
He has also expressed disappointment the Republican National Committee awarded the first two debates to Fox News, a network that has been openly hostile to him.
Fox News execs attempted to woo Trump to participate in the debate, but after he made the decision to skip, the network made a move many saw as petty.
According to a network memo obtained by Mediaite, Fox execs decided that no surrogates would be able to appear in the debate spin room for any candidate who is not on the debate stage, effectively barring advocates for the former president.
Axios first reported: “The barring of Trump surrogates from attending Wednesday’s debate at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee comes one day after the 77-year-old former president confirmed that he would not participate in the event, which will be aired on Fox News, CNN’s Alayna Treene reported on Monday.”