Fox News: Trump Wanted Money to Appear at Thursday Debate

January 29th 2016

Alex Mierjeski

FOX News claimed that Republican front-runner Donald Trump asked the network to give $5 million to charity in order for him to appear at Thursday night's GOP debate.

The FOX statement follows a contentious back-and-forth between the businessman and the network over his attendance in the run-up to Thursday's debate — which is the last one before Iowans turn out to caucus on Monday for the first vote in the 2016 presidential election.

Here's the network's statement:

Earlier on Thursday, the businessman said that FOX had made multiple calls asking him to participate in the debate, and that he received an apology from the network.

"I've been in six debates. I've done well in every debate, everybody said the last one, but they said I won most of them," Trump said in an interview with CNN.

"And by the time they apologized, I said look, the problem is we now have a big event scheduled," he said.

The FOX statement denied that its head, Roger Ailes, made multiple calls to the candidate.

"Roger Ailes had three brief conversations with Donald Trump today about possibly appearing at the debate – there were not multiple calls placed by Ailes to Trump," the statement reads.

This week, Trump lampooned the network for treating him unfairly, targeting its journalist Megyn Kelly, whom he has repeatedly criticized. In the last FOX debate in August, Kelly pressed Trump about his disparaging comments towards women — a line of questioning he saw as unfair. Trump protested against Kelly moderating Thursday night's debate, and ultimately said he would not participate. The FOX statement released Thursday said it would stand by Kelly.

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On Wednesday, FOX released a statement regarding Trump's decision, in which it defended Kelly, and said it would not violate its journalistic standards by bending to Trump's request to exclude Kelly.