In an aggressive exchange on Fox News, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich accused conservative TV host Megyn Kelly of bias against Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, as well as a “fascination with sex.”
The row on Tuesday night between Kelly and one of the staunchest supporters of Trump started when the host brought up the multiple allegations of sexual assault and misconduct against the candidate.
During the ensuing debate, which bordered on personal attacks, Gingrich said the host was “fascinated with sex” and Kelly urged him to “take your anger issues and spend some time working on them”.
Dan Scavino, Trump’s director of social media, later responded on Twitter, saying Kelly had “made a total fool out of herself” and warning: “Watch what happens to her after this election is over.”
.@MegynKelly made a total fool out of herself tonight- attacking @realDonaldTrump. Watch what happens to her after this election is over.
The tiff marked the latest chapter in the back and forth between Megyn Kelly and the Trump campaign.
It started in August 2015 when Trump suggested tough questioning from the Fox News host in the first debate of the Republican presidential primary was because she was menstruating.
She “had blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever”, Trump said on CNN.
Trump has since continued to make Kelly a target. The Republican nominee called her “crazy Megyn” in March and even tweeted at her during Tuesday’s vice-presidential debate.
On Tuesday night, after Kelly listed off a series of events on the campaign trail that negatively affected Trump’s standing with female voters – a late-night tweet rampage against a former beauty queen, a leaked tape showing him bragging about sexually assaulting women – Gingrich protested that the amount of media attention focused on the allegations was not commensurate with other campaign issues.
“I’m sick and tired of people like you using language that’s inflammatory that’s not true!” Gingrich shouted, adding. “I think that is exactly the bias that people are upset by!”
Kelly replied: “I think that your defensiveness on this may speak volumes, sir.
“What I said is,” she continued, “if Donald Trump is a sexual predator, then it’s a big story. And what we saw on that tape was Trump himself saying that he likes to grab women by the genitals and kiss them against their will.
“That’s what we saw. Then we saw 10 women come forward after he actually denied doing it at a debate, to say: ‘That was untrue; he did it to me; he did it to me.’ We saw reporters, we saw people who had worked with him, people from Apprentice, and so on and so forth. He denies it it all, which is his right – we don’t know what the truth is.”
“My point to you is, as a media story, we don’t get to say the 10 women are lying,” Kelly concluded. “We have to cover that story, sir.”
Gingrich dismissed this and decried the amount of attention paid to sexual misconduct accusations against Trump.
“You are fascinated with sex and you don’t care about public policy!” Gingrich responded. “And that’s what I get out of watching you tonight.”
Kelly retorted: “I’m not fascinated by sex, but I am fascinated by protection of women and understanding what we’re getting in the Oval Office.
“It’s not about me – it’s about the women and men of America, and the poll numbers show us that the women of America, in particular, are very concerned about these allegations.”
The former speaker of the House of Representatives responded by “daring” Kelly to call former president Bill Clinton a “sexual predator”. She replied that her show had covered those issues at length and concluded the segment.
“We’re gonna have to leave it at that, and you can take your anger issues and spend some time working on them, Mr Speaker.”