No doubt Fox News Channel was heartened when Thursday night’s debate drew a decent audience without the star of the GOP traveling circus, Donald Trump. Deciding he didn’t want to be ambushed and insulted, Mr. Trump put on an event across town to raise money for veterans, giving a speech that CNN and MSNBC covered.
This crossing of swords will be forgotten when actual votes come in, starting with the Iowa caucuses on Monday. But in the run-up, the staff and management of Fox News managed to come off looking unhinged, figuratively frothing at the mouth at levels unseen since The New York Times in 2002 failed to bully Augusta National Golf Club into admitting its first female member. (It happened 10 years later.)
After Mr. Trump sent regrets, Fox News fired out a stupid press release trying to make fun of him. Then it accused Mr. Trump’s people of trying to intimidate debate moderator Megyn Kelly, she of the desperate attempt to take down Mr. Trump in the first Fox News debate.
Nothing stuck. So Fox News boss Roger Ailes pleaded with Mr. Trump’s lovely wife and wonderful daughter. No dice. Then Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly surrendered credibility by begging him to show up. As Twitter pundit Ecklebob Chiselfritz noted: “If Bill O’Reilly fawned and slobbered over me like he did Trump, I would report it as a sex crime.”
Ms. Kelly insulted her loyal viewers by inviting the Tiresome Fat Filmmaker on her show.
Then came this tidbit from Gabriel Sherman of New York magazine, quoting a source close to Mr. Ailes: “Roger says Trump is unelectable. His goal here is to save the country.”
Proving once again that bad things happen when news organizations advocate rather than report.