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Fox News chief to meet with Donald Trump about boycott

Donald Trump, Megyn Kelly

Donald Trump and Fox News Channel moderator Megyn Kelly on Aug. 6, 2015, during the first Republican presidential debate in Cleveland.

(John Minchillo / AP)

Donald Trump is boycotting Fox News Channel, but the two sides may be moving toward a truce.

A Fox News Channel spokesperson said Thursday that Fox News Chairman and Chief Executive Roger Ailes would soon meet with the candidate to discuss his issues with the channel’s coverage of his campaign.

"[Ailes and Trump] spoke this morning and plan to have a meeting next week to discuss their differences of opinion regarding Fox’s coverage of Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “Ailes will be joined by senior Fox editorial executives. Mr. Trump believes he has been treated unfairly in certain instances. Fox News has held every candidate in this race to the highest journalistic standards throughout our coverage. We believe a candid meeting about our differences is required and that any misunderstandings can be handled without compromising those standards.”

The front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination tweeted his intention to boycott Fox programs on Wednesday after a scheduled Thursday appearance on its top-rated show “The O’Reilly Factor” was canceled by the cable network.

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”.@Fox News has been treating me very unfairly & I have therfore decided that I won’t be doing any more Fox shows for the foreseeable future.”

The real estate mogul was upset again on Wednesday when National Review editor Rich Lowry used a crude term to say Trump had been castrated by Republican rival Carly Fiorina.

"@FoxNews owes me an apology for allowing clueless pundit @RichLowry to use such foul language on TV. Unheard of!” Trump said in a tweet during the broadcast.

See the most-read stories this hour >>

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Before Ailes agreed to meet with Trump, the network issued a statement that said the candidate did not understand the media’s role in covering the campaign.

“The press predictably jumped to cover his tweet, creating yet another distraction from any real issues that Mr. Trump might be questioned about,” the spokesperson said in a statement issued in response to Trump. “When coverage doesn’t go his way, he engages in personal attacks on our anchors which have grown stale and tiresome. He doesn’t seem to grasp that candidates telling journalists what to ask is not how media works in this country.”

TRAIL GUIDE: All the latest news on the 2016 presidential campaign >>

Fox News did not comment on the reasons for cancelling the Trump booking, but it’s clear that it was sending a message to the candidate that it will not tolerate his public criticism of star anchor Megyn Kelly. On Tuesday, Trump tweeted another attack on Kelly:  “Do you ever notice that lightweight @megynkelly constantly goes after me but when I hit back it is totally sexist. She is totally overrated!”

Trump also took to Twitter to criticize O’Reilly’s program for having guests and analysts who gave unfavorable assessments of his campaign.

By bumping Trump from O’Reilly’s top-rated program, the network is forcing the candidate to consider what it would be like to seriously pursue the Republican nomination without directly reaching the Fox audience.

Trump first made hostile remarks about Kelly after her tough questioning of him during the Fox News Republican debate on Aug. 6. The candidate did patch things up with Ailes over the matter and backed off.

Although Trump’s absence as a guest on Fox News Channel is unlikely to have much of an impact on the ratings of regular Fox News programming, a long-lasting boycott would be a major detriment to the outlet’s upcoming primary debates.

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The 24 million viewers who watched FNC’s Aug. 6 debate set an audience record for a non-sports program on cable, and Trump’s presence was the main factor in luring viewers. CNN’s Republican debate drew 22.9 million last week.

Get more national political news and the latest from Campaign 2016 >>

FNC’s sister channel Fox Business Network has a GOP primary debate scheduled for November. A rematch with Kelly and Fox News anchors Bret Baier and Chris Wallace is set for January.

But in the world of Trump and the topsy-turvy Republican campaign, those dates are far down the road.

Twitter: @SteveBattaglio

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