The Slatest

Donald Trump Refuses to Participate in Fox News Debate Because He’d Rather Live-Tweet It

Donald Trump participates in the Fox Business Network Republican presidential debate on Jan. 14, 2016 in North Charleston, South Carolina.  

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Update, 11:00 p.m.: Fox News statement on Trump.

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Update, 9:40 p.m.: Donald Trump announces debating has been very, very good to Donald Trump, but confirms Donald Trump will not debate. (Also: Donald Trump, Slate reader?)

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Original Post: Another day, another Trump-inspired Twitter dust-up. On Tuesday, the GOP front-runner and his favorite sparring partner du jour, Fox News, got into another online melee that appears to have spilled into real life. The ludicrous back-and-forth is over whether Trump will participate in the final pre–Iowa caucus debate on Thursday—hosted by Fox News—and, by Tuesday evening, the Donald appeared to have pouted his final answer:

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First, let’s hope Trump’s campaign manager didn’t actually say it like that. Cushlash can sting. The obvious question here is: Does Trump know that if he doesn’t debate he doesn’t get to be on TV? Perhaps he hasn’t fully thought it through. Although he did spend an awful lot of time on his second favorite medium Tuesday, doing what could be considered *thinking* for Trump.

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That really happened. That’s a real “poll” about whether Donald Trump should debate the issues facing the country one final time, five days before the first voters weigh in. If you have been busy living your life and have justifiably missed why Trump would turn down the opportunity to preen on camera, here’s the candidate himself eloquently explaining his beef:

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Since no one is appealing to anyone’s better angels in this race at this point, Fox News responded cleverly, saying in a statement Tuesday afternoon:

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.

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Trump, perhaps not getting the finer points of the Fox News gibe, responded … on …

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The Trump v. Fox News standoff is, of course, a strange pairing for a squad feud given the network’s history as right-leaning, Republican kingmaker. At the heart of the cyber–slap fight are Trump’s hurt feelings over Fox News host Megyn Kelly asking him questions about his history of misogyny during a previous Fox News debate. Trump insists he’s a victim of bias, from Fox News, and has been needling Kelly and the network ever since about her work. The final debate before the Iowa caucus is two days away, and Kelly is scheduled to work it for Fox. Trump wants Kelly gone, but Fox News president Roger Ailes has backed Kelly.

Read more of Slate’s coverage of the GOP primary.

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