We can infer now with certainty that Fox News president Roger Ailes won’t be supporting Donald Trump’s race for the White House.
If prime-time pundit Megyn Kelly incendiary first question to the bumptious billionaire at last night’s GOP debate is an indication of Ailes personal feelings about the loose canon frontrunner - and it almost certainly is - Trump has no friends at the “Fair and Balanced” network.
“Mr. Trump,” Kelly gamely began, “one of the things people love about you is you speak your mind and you don't use a politician's filter. However that is not without its downsides, in particular when it comes to women. You've called women you don't like fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals.”
“Only Rosie O'Donnell,” Trump interjected.
What was remarkable was just how many middle aged white guys in the audience erupted with helpless laughter and delighted applause at this, even as many of the women seated next to them took a visibly much more measured response.
Kelly was undeterred: “For the record, it was well beyond Rosie O’Donnell,” she clarified. “You once told a contestant (on your TV show) that it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees. Does that sound like the temperament of a man we should elect as president?”
It does not and Kelly knew it. What it sounds like is what it actually is, the aggressively hateful words of a contemptuous, sexist man who thinks a woman's true worth is determined by her looks.
Most of us are well beyond that kind of disrespectful and misogynistic talk in 2015 but Trump clearly believes America isn’t. “I don't frankly have time for total political correctness,” he replied. “And to be honest with you, this country doesn't have time either.”
To prove his point Trump mansplained to Kelly that he didn’t need to give her any explanation for any of his outrageously sexist comments because she has frequently criticized him in the past.
“What I say is what I say,” he shrugged. “And honestly Megyn if you don't like it, I'm sorry. I’ve been very nice to you although I could probably not be based on the way you've treated me but I wouldn't do that."
What a standup guy. Playing to the over-grown frat boys in the nation, who squee with delight when their female critics are blasted for their figures and not their facts.
But Trump’s approach to the issues were as clumsy as they were crass, offering us bumper sticker diplomacy and brotastic bromides that his audience devoured.
The truth is Trump’s foreign policy, to quote Robert Durst, seems to boil down to “kill people, break things.” Or build a fortress USA and keep all the riff raff out like a 21st century Know Nothing.
It’s a message that Kelly and Ailes and everyone on the Fox News panel knows is toxic to the Republican brand in 2016 and - if it actually comes to it - to the security of the nation.
But they may not be able to stop him now. Because Trump is the monster their right-wing cable news echo chamber created.
He looks like a success, he claims he is a success. In an age when the American Dream is more elusive than lost Atlantis the public may well prefer his aspirational vulgarity to the blunt privations of where they really are.
Trump’s poll numbers certainly prove GOP voters prefer fantasy over fact this cycle and there has never been a candidate more qualified to deliver it to them.
It explains his rising numbers, it explains why - although we know exactly who and what he is - he is receiving such a once in a lifetime hail mary pass.
Consider that America’s reputation is under assault as never before in our lifetimes, for reasons that have nothing to President Obama or our recent foreign policy decisions.
Instead we’re losing face overseas by the actions taken by ordinary American men who regularly shoot up movie theaters and churches and even schools. Instead of making access to gun harder to get, we boggle the world by making it easier.
Our law enforcement officers are repeatedly filmed profiling and killing black suspects before they even have time to assess what has transpired. But instead of responding we hide behind old enmities and look away.
Men like Walter James Palmer, the Minnesota dentist who paid at least $50,000 to track and kill the beloved Cecil the lion, do violence to our international standing but we forget him by the next news cycle. The world does not forget however.
And if ever there was a avatar of the ugly American, the conscience free capitalist, it’s Donald Trump. Indeed Trump’s own sons have also been photographed in Africa beside a host of animals they tracked and killed.
“Bottom line without hunters $ there wouldn't be much left of Africa. Eco(system) is nice but no $,” Donald Trump Jr tweeted.
“The American Dream is nice but no $,” could actually be his father’s presidential tagline.
The GOP is wrong that he represents a blast of fresh air. Trump’s meteoric rise isn’t a symbol of America’s great reawakening, it’s the measure of how far the nation has fallen.
What may look to them now like strength and victory is in fact hastening their defeat.