Jan. 26, 2016 10:56pm Oliver Darcy
Fox News released a scathing statement Tuesday night in response to Republican frontrunner Donald Trump announcing earlier that he would skip the network’s Thursday debate — and it accused Trump’s campaign manager of threatening host Megyn Kelly.
“As many of our viewers know, FOX News is hosting a sanctioned debate in Des Moines, Iowa on Thursday night, three days before the first votes of the 2016 election are cast in the Iowa Caucus. Donald Trump is refusing to debate seven of his fellow presidential candidates on stage that night, which is near unprecedented,” a Fox News spokesperson said in a statement provided to TheBlaze.
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The statement continued, “We’re not sure how Iowans are going to feel about him walking away from them at the last minute, but it should be clear to the American public by now that this is rooted in one thing – Megyn Kelly, whom he has viciously attacked since August and has now spent four days demanding be removed from the debate stage.”
The Fox News spokesperson accused Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski of threatening Kelly who was set to moderate Thursday night’s debate.
“Capitulating to politicians’ ultimatums about a debate moderator violates all journalistic standards, as do threats, including the one leveled by Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski toward Megyn Kelly,” the statement said. “In a call on Saturday with a Fox News executive, Lewandowski stated that Megyn had a ‘rough couple of days after that last debate’ and he ‘would hate to have her go through that again.’ Lewandowski was warned not to level any more threats, but he continued to do so.”
“We can’t give in to terrorizations toward any of our employees,” the statement added. “Trump is still welcome at Thursday night’s debate and will be treated fairly, just as he has been during his 132 appearances on FOX News & FOX Business, but he can’t dictate the moderators or the questions.”
Trump made news hours earlier when his campaign announced he would skip the network’s debate on Thursday. At a press conference, the billionaire cited a snarky statement put out hours before by a Fox News spokesperson and the network’s refusal to remove Kelly as a moderator as reasons he would not attend.