With the Republican presidential primary debate less than 10 hours away, Fox News anchors Chris Wallace, Megyn Kelly and Bret Baier sat at a long table with their producers and once again went over the game plan for the big night.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Donald Trump somehow has managed to terrify Fox News so badly that they brought out all guns against him, replete with a “nuclear option” scorched earth policy to bring him down and discredit him in front of the American people. The talk fest blood bath brought in Fox’s highest ratings ever, but it failed to “bring down Trump”. But what was brought down, in the opinion of this site, is any decent reputation Fox News may have had for being “fair and balanced”. Fox exhibited disgraceful and shameful behaviour unbecoming journalists, but they are a huge hit with the liberal media now for obvious reasons. Rest in pieces, Faux News.
Leaning into their laptop computers, they reviewed not just the questions they would ask but the structure of every query, keeping in mind the constraints of time and the need to avoid repeating topics. As they sorted and re-sorted questions, the unpredictability of real estate tycoon and reality-TV star Donald Trump was never far from their minds.
“I would say the level is about an eight on the concern meter because of the unknown,” Baier said.
Baier even had a “nuclear option” at the ready for Trump if he ignored all protocol.
The script — which Baier didn’t have to use — took a page from Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice” TV show. It went like this: “Mr. Trump, in your business you have rules. You follow rules. We have rules on this stage. We don’t want to have to escort you to the elevator outside this boardroom.”
“We’re hoping we don’t have to use it,” Baier said later. “But we’re locked and loaded.”
For anyone embedded with the news team on debate day, it became clear that it wasn’t just the Republican hopefuls who would be on-stage this night — but also Fox News, widely seen as the network most friendly to conservatives. No one here wanted to appear as if they were pitching softballs.
“You can’t let them have that off ramp” was Baier’s rule as they hone each line.
Indeed, when Kelly rehearsed a question for another candidate — delivered in the staccato style that adds to her reputation as a tenacious interrogator — a producer at the table said, “He’ll go berserk.” That’s a compliment for Kelly, who smiled. For the individual anchors, the debate was also a chance to burnish their reputations. Kelly has emerged as the channel’s prime-time star. Wallace is a seasoned veteran of the Washington beat. Baier has perhaps the most to gain from the expanded national spotlight.
Baier believed he had a “blowtorch” to start off the debate when he asked for a pledge by all the candidates to not mount a third-party challenge if they were not chosen as the nominee. He ended up with an instant headline within a few minutes when Trump refused to make that pledge.
The next moment that set social media ablaze came when Kelly stiff-armed Trump’s joke about comedian Rosie O’Donnell and forced him to address his past disparaging remarks about women.
Baier anticipated that some Republican Party faithful would agree with Trump that the moderators were too tough, and he was right. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), one of the lower-polling presidential candidates in the afternoon debate, called the evening session “an inquisition.”
The reaction didn’t surprise Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes. “Most of the criticism I get is from the right because they assume I’m going to do a certain thing and I don’t necessarily do what anybody assumes,” Ailes said in an interview Friday. “This is an example of that.”
Baier received warm congratulations from spectators and candidates as he made his way offstage at Quicken Loans Arena and into a corridor off the arena floor. But when Trump came by, he simply shook the anchor’s hand and looked straight ahead. The scene was a preview of the turmoil to come.
“They weren’t nice to me,” Trump bellowed as he moved on with his entourage in tow. “I tell you that Megyn is no good. No good. Bad.”
When asked whether Trump was mad, Baier smiled and his eyes widened.
“I think he was,” he said. source