Donald Trump and Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly argued testily on-air Wednesday over the Republican presidential candidate’s decision to bow out of debate on the network. Trump used the network to complain about its treatment of him, while O’Reilly lectured the candidate right back.
“In your Christian faith there’s a very significant tenet, and that’s the tenet of forgiveness,” O’Reilly said. “I think you should forgive not only journalists who come at you in ways you don’t like but you should be the bigger man … Don’t you think that’s the right thing to do?”
“It probably is,” Trump conceded, but added: “It’s called an eye for an eye also, you could look at it that way … ”
O’Reilly by turns pleaded, begged, lectured and argued that the candidate was making a mistake by not participating in Thursday’s debate on Fox News.
“I’m asking you to reconsider it,” O’Reilly pleaded.
Trump replied: “It’s up to Fox, it’s not up to me … You’re taking this much more seriously than I am. I’m not taking it that seriously.”
“I don’t like being taken advantage of, I was being taken advantage of by Fox … When I’m president, I’m not going to let our country be taken advantage of,” said Trump, referencing Iran specifically. “When you look at that picture of those soldiers [on their knees surrendering] I don’t want that to happen to our country.”
“I believe you want to improve the country,” O’Reilly told Trump, acting like he was an old friend with whom he disagreed, going on to suggest Trump was making a mistake giving up the national spotlight of a debate.
“I understand your opinion, but tomorrow night at 9 we’ll have a tremendous event and I’ll have much longer than 60 seconds,” he said. “There’s a reason for the 24 million people [who watched the last debates]. I just don’t like being used.”
The GOP frontrunner tweeted Wednesday of Fox News’ tongue-in-cheek statement released Tuesday, “It was the childishly written & taunting PR statement by Fox that made me not do the debate, more so than lightweight reporter” Megyn Kelly.
Trump polled his Twitter followers Tuesday about whether he should take part in the debate, given his issues with Kelly, one of the debate’s moderators. (He has taken several shots at her since she grilled him in an August debate on his past statements about women.)
The primetime Republican debate airs live Thursday at 9/10c on Fox News Channel. The first debate starts at 7/8c.