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The Republican presidential candidate and billionaire Donald Trump spoke on the Fox News morning show today to smooth tensions resulting from his feud with the network over last week's primary debate. For days, Trump has been attacked Fox and especially anchor Megyn Kelly. It is worth noting the debate earned Fox News record ratings, and despite this clash, no outlet has done more of late to present Trump as a serious thinker. Here's NPR's David Folkenflik.
DAVID FOLKENFLIK, BYLINE: It might seem a little churlish - Donald Trump turning on Fox News like that. Here's what he told CNN's Don Lemon about Fox's Megyn Kelly.
(SOUNDBITE OF CNN INTERVIEW)
DONALD TRUMP: Well, I just don't respect her as a journalist. I have no respect for her. I don't think she's very good. I think she's highly overrated.
FOLKENFLIK: Then Trump upped the ante.
TRUMP: She gets out, and she starts asking me all sorts of ridiculous questions. And, you know, you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes - blood coming out of her wherever.
FOLKENFLIK: Many news organizations interpret that as a claim that Trump was alleging she had been menstruating during the debate, which Trump later denied. Trump was unhappy with the other anchors, too. Chris Wallace challenged Trump on his four companies that cleared bankruptcy. Bret Baier insisted Trump announce whether he would forgo a run as an independent if his primary bid failed. But on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" yesterday, Trump went after Kelly again.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "MORNING JOE")
TRUMP: She asked me a very inappropriate question. She should really be apologizing to me - you want to know the truth.
FOLKENFLIK: What was Kelly's question again?
(SOUNDBITE OF 2016 REPUBLICAN PRIMARY DEBATE)
MEGYN KELLY: You call women you don't like fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals.
KELLY: Your twitter account...
TRUMP: Only Rosie O'Donnell.
KELLY: No, it wasn't.
FOLKENFLIK: Kelly persevered.
KELLY: You once told a contestant on "Celebrity Apprentice" it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees. Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man we should elect as president? And how will you answer the charge from Hillary Clinton, who is likely to be the Democratic nominee, that you are part of the war on women?
FOLKENFLIK: Oh, that question. Some conservatives, such as Rush Limbaugh and Laura Ingraham, joined Trump's denunciation of what he said was political correctness. And Fox reportedly fielded many complaints from Trump's supporters. What might give Trump the impression Fox would give him differential treatment? How about Fox News itself?
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "FOX AND FRIENDS")
UNIDENTIFIED HOST: Speaking of awards, we understand you got an award down at The Citadel over this weekend with Tim Scott. Congratulations to you.
TRUMP: I did. It was great. What a great place The Citadel is, too.
FOLKENFLIK: That was Trump on the morning show "Fox And Friends," a show on which he has appeared regularly. Trump boasts about being a ratings machine. He starred in a reality show on NBC and currently dominates political coverage on other networks, too. But the liberal media watch group Media Matters, which has links to Hillary Clinton, counted how much time Fox News devoted to Trump over the previous three months, and it was a lot. Trump received more than four hours, nearly 90 minutes more than the next candidate. John Sides is a political scientist professor at George Washington University. He says the questions for Trump had a paradoxical result.
JOHN SIDES: Now, the outcome of the debate was not really to sort of put Trump to the side of the stage. I think in some sense, it's still kept him that the center of the stage, you know, literally and figuratively.
FOLKENFLIK: His research suggests news coverage tends to lift candidates with voters, and Sides says the pattern fits here with Trump as an unconventional front-runner. Trump tweeted yesterday that Fox News chairman Roger Ailes promised him fair coverage.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "FOX AND FRIENDS")
STEVE DOOCY: He's back. Donald Trump joins us on the line. Donald, good morning to you. Glad you're back with us and glad we're friends again.
TRUMP: Well, we are friends, Steve. We've always been friends, and it's great to be back with you.
DOOCY: Thank you very much. It's good to...
FOLKENFLIK: And today, once again, Trump was back in Fox's warm embrace. David Folkenflik, NPR News, New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.