Stop me if you've heard this one before:
Donald Trump announced Wednesday that he was officially feuding with Fox News. The network, he tweeted, "has been treating me very unfairly & I have therefore decided that I won't be doing any more Fox shows for the foreseeable future."
On Thursday, Fox News issued a statement that network chief Roger Ailes will be meeting with Trump to resolve their issues:
“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.”
Sound familiar? It should, because all of this happened in almost exactly the same way back in August, when Trump went after Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, and then battled with Ailes, and then disappeared from Fox for a bit, and then made up with Ailes, and then came back on the network. Trump has only been a presidential candidate since June, but, like a washed-up rocker, he's already reheating his greatest hits.
The strange thing about this current feud is that it's not exactly clear what Trump is mad about. Not that Donald Trump necessarily needs anything specific to get mad about—the man could start a feud with a stuffed animal if he wanted to—but you can usually trace his rage to some vaguely identifiable source. Fox News has speculated that Trump is mad about being bumped from "The O'Reilly Factor," but that happened after Trump had already been tweeting for days about his displeasure over some amorphous unfairness he'd seen on the network.
There's a lot of speculation that Trump is reacting this way because his campaign has hit a rough patch. As the madness that always accompanies summertime fades away, it's possible that people are cooling on the Donald, and he's trying to play the same old tunes in response. I also frankly think he's bored. Campaigning is a very dull business, even for Donald Trump, and one envisions him making trouble with Fox just for kicks.
Of course, it takes two to feud, and Trump wouldn't be poking the Fox News bear if he didn't think that he could get something out of the encounter. Ailes proved that he was capable of folding during his last contretemps with Trump, and it looks like he still regards Trump as a wild animal worth containing. He could also stroll into the big summit and read Trump the riot act (maybe those "senior Fox editorial executives" are really a bunch of hired goons?) but the same factors that made him tread with caution the last time around—namely, the fact that a large chunk of his audience is quite loyal to Trump—are still lingering, no matter how battered Trump has been in recent days.
Whatever happens, the Republican presidential race has officially turned into an infinite loop of sadness, with Ailes and Trump as the hideous remake of Ross and Rachel the world never asked for, breaking up and reconciling over and over and over and over again. Here's hoping that this is one television show that gets very swiftly canceled.