By Leo Hohmann
Donald Trump apparently smelled a rat planted at Thursday night’s debate on Fox News, causing him to back out of the final showdown event before the Iowa Caucus.
But the question remains: Who planted the rat at Fox?
The story is being played in the establishment media as a feud strictly between Trump and Fox News’ Megyn Kelly.
But to get to the source of the feud, some pundits are saying it goes beyond Kelly. Look to her bosses, they say.
Fox had selected a couple of dyed-in-the-wool Democrats to try to trip Trump with questions that his supporters say will be designed to humiliate the real-estate mogul. One is a Muslim woman, Nabela Noor, who has compared Trump to Adolf Hitler on her YouTube channel. Noor was invited to ask questions of the candidates along with two other YouTube celebrities, Mark Watson and Dulce Candy, a Mexican woman who admits in a video she “crossed a river in the middle of the night” with her parents to get to the United States in 1994.
Each was selected to ask a candidate a question “on an issue that matters to them and their communities,” according to a Fox News-Google press release.
Noor is pictured on her Twitter site sporting a “Feel the Bern” T-shirt, marking her as a supporter of socialist Bernie Sanders, who is running for the Democratic Party nomination for president.
Noor is described in the Fox-Google news release as follows:
“Born in New York, Nabela is a 24-year-old Muslim American whose parents immigrated from Bangladesh. As an up-and-coming beauty creator with over 140,000 subscribers, Nabela hasn’t shied away from social issues. In a recent video, she spoke about being called a ‘terrorist’ in elementary school after 9/11 and emphasized the importance of tolerance above all.”
Fox did not return emails from WND seeking comment on the choice of Noor as a debate questioner. Nor would Fox respond to questions about a curious press statement given late Tuesday to Hollywood news magazine the Wrap.
In the statement to the Wrap, Fox accused Trump of being afraid to meet with leaders like the “Ayatollah” and “Putin” if he becomes president.
The statement reads:
“We learned from a secret back channel that the Ayatollah and Putin both intend to treat Donald Trump unfairly when they meet with him if he becomes president. A nefarious source tells us that Trump has his own secret plan to replace the Cabinet with his Twitter followers to see if he should even go to those meetings.”
Trump tweeted late Wednesday: “It was the childishly written & taunting PR statement by Fox that made me not do the debate, more so than lightweight reporter, @megynkelly.”
Who approved this “childish” release? Some believe it was Roger Ailes, the longtime president of Fox News.
Ailes’ biographer Gabriel Sherman, writing for New York Magazine, penned an article Wednesday positing that the Fox News Statement taunting Trump was “100 percent Roger Ailes.” Sherman cited an unnamed “highly placed source” within Fox for the accusation against Ailes.
But the Conservative Tree House has a completely different take on the controversy.
Ailes would never allow his team to send out a “non-professional” statement like the one released to the Wrap, according to the political blog.
Ailes has actually been in poor health for the past few months, forcing Chairman Rupert Murdock to have meetings with his program directors at the news network.
“That over-the-top media release actually sounds like it was written by a zealous Murdoch acolyte (executive) vying for the job of Ailes as soon as he resigns his post.”
The Conservative Tree House continues:
“As embarrassing as that release was, the ridiculous reasoning/justification provided by Fox AFTER Donald Trump pulled out is even worse.”
Fox News responded with another release, playing the victim with language that “reeks like the scribble of a college-aged social justice warrior, not a billion dollar network empire.”
The second release from Fox reads as follows:
“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,” Fox News said in the statement. “Donald Trump is refusing to debate seven of his fellow presidential candidates on stage that night, which is near unprecedented.
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.
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.
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. 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.”
Actually, this is not the first time a presidential frontrunner has backed out of the final debate before the Iowa Caucus. Ronald Reagan skipped the GOP debate ahead of the Iowa Caucus in 1980. George H. W. Bush won the caucus but Reagan went on to win the nomination by a landslide.
The Conservative Tree House believes it was not Ailes who crafted the strange Fox news release: “No, this has the doofus Murdoch boys, his leftist children who are being groomed to take over, written all over it.”
Adding more fuel to the theory that Fox is operating in full “get Trump” mode, was the news that one of Fox News’ top newsmen is the father of Sen. Marco Rubio’s press secretary.
“Interestingly, Bill Sammon – FOX News’s vice president of News and Washington managing editor – is the father of Brooke Sammon, who is Rubio’s press secretary,” reports Breitbart’s Julia Hahn.
According to an Aug. 2, 2015, report in Media Matters, Sammon is hugely responsible for crafting questions for candidates.
Media Matters quoted Fox sources saying Sammon is “the best” at “crafting the questions,” and he meets regularly with the moderators to refine the questions.
“Asked by Fox host Howard Kurtz how he and the debate moderators would formulate questions to keep candidates off their talking points, Fox News digital politics editor Chris Stirewalt said they have a ‘secret weapon’ in Sammon, ‘who is the best at not only team cohesion and keeping everybody on point about what the point is, but in crafting the questions.'”
But with Rubio now running in the top three in most of the polls, the obvious question is: Does Sammon have a conflict of interest with his daughter serving as Rubio’s press secretary?
Fox could not be reached to answer that question.