Donald Trump threatened to “unleash” his Twitter account and his millions of devoted social media followers against Megyn Kelly days before she co-moderated a Republican presidential debate last year, the Fox News anchor writes in her upcoming memoir.
The August 2015 debate ultimately gave way to one of the first significant scandals of Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign when he derided what he perceived as her personal attacks against him during the debate, describing Ms. Kelly as having “blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her whatever.”
A week earlier, however, Mr. Trump reportedly became so upset by a segment about his campaign broadcast during an episode of her Fox News program, “The Kelly File,” that he refused to do a previously scheduled interview with the journalist until she called him personally, according to excerpts from her forthcoming memoir published Thursday in The New York Times.
“I almost unleashed my beautiful Twitter account against you, and I still may,” Mr. Trump reportedly told her, according to one excerpt.
Days later, an anxious Mr. Trump reportedly called Fox executives on the eve of the first GOP debate upon learning that Ms. Kelly would begin the event by posing “a very pointed question directed at him,” she writes in her book, “Settle for More.”
“Folks were starting to worry about Trump — his level of agitation did not match the circumstances,” she recalled. “Yes, it was his first debate. But this was bizarre behavior, especially for a man who wanted the nuclear codes.”
Indeed, Ms. Kelly began the debate by asking Mr. Trump to explain his past use of terms such as “fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals” to describe women.
“She gets out and she starts asking me all sorts of ridiculous questions,” Mr. Trump told CNN the day after the debate. “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever. In my opinion, she was off-base.”
As warned, Mr. Trump used his widely popular Twitter account in the days and weeks after to describe Ms. Kelly as a “bimbo” and “loser” who “really bombed” during the debate, each post being retweeted hundreds if not thousands of times.
In the interim, Fox News chairman and CEO at the time, Roger Ailes, issued a statement condemning Mr. Trump’s attacks against the broadcaster as “as unacceptable as it is disturbing.” Mr. Ailes resigned from his role with the news network the following year amid sexual harassment allegations mounted by former employees, including Ms. Kelly.
The Committee to Project Journalists passed a resulting last month declaring Mr. Trump “an unprecedented threat to the rights of journalists” as a result of his frequent verbal attacks directed toward the media during the course of his campaign, Ms. Kelly included.
“Through his words and actions, Trump has consistently demonstrated a contempt for the role of the press beyond offering publicity to him and advancing his interests,” CPP’s Sandra Mims Rowe said in a statement last month.
Mr. Trump’s aides reportedly revoked the president-elect’s access to his Twitter account several days before he ultimately defeated Democratic rival Hillary Clinton on Nov. 8. His account boasted more than 14 million Twitter followers as of Friday.