Trump goes to war with Fox News

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Donald TrumpDonald TrumpGiuliani wants to tag Muslims on the terror watch list Biden doubts Clinton, Trump election will be close Most retweeted tweet of Dem convention's third day posted by Trump MORE is going to war with Fox News after receiving a series of pointed, at times aggressive, questions during Thursday night’s presidential debate. 

The businessman and 2016 candidate is throwing rhetorical bombs in the wake of the debate, taking to Twitter and television to fire back at the conservative news network and Megyn Kelly, who was one of the debate moderators.

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“I really enjoyed the debate tonight even though the @FoxNews trio, especially @megynkelly, was not very good or professional!,” Trump, currently leading the packed Republican field in the polls, said on Twitter early Friday morning, as part of a roughly two-hour rant against the network. 

The tweets come after Trump was grilled during the debate. He faced a series of tough questions from the moderators on his business history, his tendency to make outlandish comments and previous support for liberal positions, including a single-payer healthcare system. 

But it was an aggressive back-and-forth with Kelly on his comments about women that caught the most attention. 

Asked about calling women "fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals," Trump fired back, “If you don’t like it, I’m sorry. I’ve been very nice to you, although I could probably maybe not be, based on the way you have treated me. But I wouldn’t do that.” 

He later added on Twitter, “@FrankLuntz is a low class slob who came to my office looking for consulting work and I had zero interest. Now he picks anti-Trump panels!” 

On Fox News, Luntz led a focus group of Republican voters after the debate who gave deeply negative feedback on Trump, who dominated the other nine candidates in terms of speaking time. One focus group participant said Trump  “just crashed and burned. He was mean, he was angry, he had no specifics, he was bombastic.” 

Michael Cohen, an adviser for Trump, said the focus group was “a total setup” aimed at knocking Trump down in the polls. 

Later, Cohen went further, saying that the network or Republican National Committee may have been part of a "coordinated" effort to slow down Trump's momentum.
 
"I don't know if it was the RNC, or Fox, or whoever, but it certainly appeared to look like an organized attack," Cohen told Business Insider.
 
"Obviously, somebody, you know, doesn't want him to continue to rise in the polls. They need to figure out how to stop this movement," Cohen added, claiming someone wanted to promote a "negative narrative" about Trump.
 
Despite taking a few hits during the debate, the verbal sparring played to Trump’s base and sparked a firestorm of criticism for Kelly, Luntz and Fox News among Trump’s supporters on Twitter.

Never one to shy away from controversy, Trump appeared eager to ride that backlash, retweeting a string of negative comments including one that accused Kelly of an “attempted hatchet job” against Trump, and another that called her a “bimbo.” 

The rhetorical battling — both on the debate stage and off — marked a sharp schism between the 2016 candidate and the conservative network.

Kelly has so far refused to fire back on Twitter, but Trump continued to beat the drum on Friday, suggesting that the debate moderators singled him out and went easier on the other nine presidential candidates. 

"I'm very surprised at Fox News that they would do that because, you know, I would say it's pretty unprofessional," he said during an interview with MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” 

Trump got support from an unlikely ally on Friday: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who is also running for president. 

The two Republicans have been in their own bitter war of words after Trump questioned Sen. John McCain’s war record. Graham retaliated by calling the businessman a “jackass” and Trump fired back by giving out Graham’s cell phone number.

But the South Carolina Republican told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that the debate, which he didn’t participate in, “was more of an inquisition than it was a debate.” 

“At the end of the day, ask the man a question that explains his position and his solutions rather than a 10-minute question that describes him as the biggest bastard on the planet,” Graham added.

This story was updated at 5:24 p.m.

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