Fox News CEO and Chairman Roger Ailes on Tuesday called for Donald Trump to apologize for his "unprovoked attack" against host Megyn Kelly, after the Republican presidential candidate made a series of disparaging comments about "The Kelly File" host on Twitter the previous evening.
"Donald Trump rarely apologizes, although in this case, he should," Ailes said in a statement. "We have never been deterred by politicians or anyone else attacking us for doing our job, much less allowed ourselves to be bullied by anyone and we're certainly not going to start now."
Trump targeted Kelly after she asked him a number of tough questions during a Fox News-hosted debate by GOP presidential candidates on Aug. 6. A series of subsequent remarks by Trump led to a clear-the-air conversation with Ailes, and the candidate has since made a number of appearances on Fox News programs.
But Trump renewed his attacks on Monday night, during Kelly's show. In a series of tweets, Trump criticized Kelly's handling of an interview segment on her show, claimed her just-concluded and long-planned summer vacation with her family was in fact unscheduled, and retweeted a tweet referring to her as a "bimbo."
Trump issued a response later Tuesday afternoon, saying "I totally disagree with the Fox statement." Trump also repeated his claims that Kelly's questioning of him during the debate "was very unfair."
Some of Kelly's Fox colleagues also came to her defense on Tuesday. Bret Baier, who moderated the debate with Kelly and Chris Wallace, tweeted that "this needs to stop." Brian Kilmeade said on "Fox & Friends" that Trump's comments bothered him personally.
"We are all friends with Donald Trump, but he is totally out of bounds reigniting that fight," Kilmeade said. "I don't know if he's trying to get ratings out of that or poll numbers, but he's not going to be successful."
Fox News' Sean Hannity also tweeted: "My friend @realDonaldTrump has captured the imagination of many. Focus on Hillary, Putin, border, jobs, Iran China & leave @megynkelly alone."
The full Ailes statement reads as follows:
"Donald Trump's surprise and unprovoked attack on Megyn Kelly during her show last night is as unacceptable as it is disturbing. Megyn Kelly represents the very best of American journalism and all of us at FOX News Channel reject the crude and irresponsible attempts to suggest otherwise. I could not be more proud of Megyn for her professionalism and class in the face of all of Mr. Trump's verbal assaults. Her questioning of Mr. Trump at the debate was tough but fair, and I fully support her as she continues to ask the probing and challenging questions that all presidential candidates may find difficult to answer. Donald Trump rarely apologizes, although in this case, he should. We have never been deterred by politicians or anyone else attacking us for doing our job, much less allowed ourselves to be bullied by anyone and we're certainly not going to start now. All of our journalists will continue to report in the fair and balanced way that has made FOX News Channel the number one news network in the industry."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.