Trump Claims Leverage Over Fox’s Ailes

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Alex Pfeiffer White House Correspondent
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Donald Trump said that he’s his own campaign strategist and claimed to have leverage over Fox News’s Roger Ailes in a wide-ranging interview published Sunday.

I’m the strategist,” said Trump to New York Magazine. The magazine received a behind-the-scenes look at the relatively shoe-string operation supporting Trump’s candidacy for president. The New York real estate developer currently has fewer than 100 employees on his payroll, while Clinton has more than 760.

None of these Trump campaign employees are speechwriters. The New York real estate developer said, “I’m the writer. Let me start with Little Marco. He just looked like Little Marco to me. And it’s not Little. It’s Liddle. L-I-D-D-L-E. And it’s not L-Y-I-N-G Ted Cruz. It’s L-Y-I-N apostrophe. Ted’s a liar, so that was easy.”

If Trump takes advice, it is typically from a close circle of advisers and family members. This tendency of his to speak off the cuff has at times upset those closest to him — specifically his daughter Ivanka.

After the New York real estate developer spoke of Mexico sending rapists to the United States, Ivanka repeatedly suggested her father apologize and drafted remarks for him. Trump told New York Magazine, “rapists are coming into the country! You know I was right.”

Many have pointed at the billions of dollars in free media Trump has received this election cycle to explain his success. The New York real estate developer views this coverage as a response to his skills in television, dating back to “The Apprentice.”

Trump said, “I’ve always had ratings from the time I was born, for whatever reason. It hasn’t, you know, just started. The Apprentice went on, and no one thought it would be successful.”

“CNN is up 75 percent because of me. Call Jeff Zucker and you ask him. Because of me. You know 1010 wins? They say ‘All news all the time.’ CNN is called ‘All Trump all the time.'” Trump said. He added, “The same goes for Roger Ailes. You know my weekly call-in at 7:15” — on “Fox & Friends” — “was the highest-rated 15 minutes of the show.”

Trump has had a testy relationship with Fox News throughout the primary. He has taken on the network, skipped one of their debates, and heavily criticized host Megyn Kelly — actions unprecedented for a Republican.

Part of the reason he has been able to do this confidently is that has “bombs” that would destroy Fox News chairman Roger Ailes, according to New York Magazine.

When Ailes fired his PR adviser in 2014, the former adviser claimed he had bombshell information that would take down both Ailes and Fox. The PR adviser had hired an attorney who worked for Trump briefly in the ’90s so “when Roger was having problems, he didn’t call 97 people, he called me,” Trump said.

He added, “Roger had lawyers, very expensive lawyers, and they couldn’t do anything. I solved the problem.” It was in this mediation process between Ailes and his former PR adviser that Trump gained leverage by reportedly learning the bombshell information.

But that hasn’t stopped Ailes and company from publicly defending Kelly.

After Trump released a barrage of tweets attacking the primetime host last August, Ailes issued a statement calling Trump’s statements “unacceptable” and “disturbing.”

“Megyn Kelly represents the very best of American journalism and all of us at FOX News Channel reject the crude and irresponsible attempts to suggest otherwise,” Ailes said.

And after Trump tweeted about “crazy @megynkelly” last month, a network spokesman called the attacks an “extreme [and] sick obsession,” “beneath the dignity of a presidential candidate who wants to occupy the highest office in the land.”