Trump said that Fox “needs MAGA” in a fiery Truth Social post on Thursday night. The former president denounced the conservative news network for hosting Republican presidential primary debates in which he has refused to participate. Prior to the debates, Trump suggested that he would opt out because he was not receiving enough coverage from Fox.
The ex-president pointed out that the second GOP debate, which aired Wednesday night on Fox, had diminished ratings in his continued absence. Nielsen data indicates that fewer than 10 million households watched the second debate, down from the 12.8 million who tuned into the first debate last month, according to The New York Times.
“The second Republican Primary Debate on FoxNews had the Lowest Viewership since 2016,” Trump wrote. “Their overall Ratings are down 30%. FOX NEEDS MAGA, THEY JUST DON’T KNOW IT YET. STOP WITH THE BAD DEBATES & NEGATIVE ADS, NO MORE. GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE! DJT.”
In response to a request for comment, Fox News pointed Newsweek to a press release that touts the debate as the highest-rated program on television Wednesday night, despite the drop in ratings.
The press release states that “last night’s debate outpaced 60% of debates in the 2016 and 2020 cycle,” while Fox News President Jay Wallace suggested in an interview with Variety earlier this week that viewership would be less than the first debate.
Additionally, Newsweek previously reported that online streaming numbers suggested that Trump’s competing speech at a non-union auto parts manufacturer in Michigan had far less viewers than the debate.
Regardless of Trump’s disparaging post and his decision to decline joining the debate, the former president also indicated that he had watched the forum, sharing a “report card” on the performances of his rival candidates in a Truth Social post earlier on Thursday.
While Trump once had a seemingly cozy relationship with Fox News, he has repeatedly launched attacks during the 2024 election cycle, describing the network as “hostile” and at one point complaining about the airing of an unflattering photo.
Last month, Trump warned Fox that its “beautiful golden goose” would be “forever gone” it did not “get on board the greatest MOVEMENT of all time, MAGA.”
The ex-president’s focus on ratings was also evident when he falsely claimed that his online interview with former Fox host Tucker Carlson, which was released at the time of the first GOP debate, was “the single most watched video and interview in the history of the world.”
Trump claimed at the time that the interview had “262 million views and counting,” while data viewed by Newsweek showed that the video actually had 21.7 million views, including those that may not have been fully in frame or were as brief as two seconds.
Update 09/29/23, 4:16 p.m. ET: This article has been updated to add context on the press release Fox News provided to Newsweek.