KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:
Donald Trump took time out of one of his events today to praise the TV appearance of one of his supporters, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
(SOUNDBITE OF CAMPAIGN RALLY)
DONALD TRUMP: Who - by the way congratulations, Newt, on last night. That was an amazing interview.
MCEVERS: That interview was Gingrich sparring with host Megyn Kelly on "Fox News." NPR's David Folkenflik reports their exchange revealed a lot about the election and the media.
DAVID FOLKENFLIK, BYLINE: Boy, that escalated quickly. It started with a chummy hello and a plug for Newt Gingrich's book.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "FOX NEWS")
MEGYN KELLY: Newt Gingrich - he served as speaker of the House. He's a Trump supporter and author of the book "Treason."
FOLKENFLIK: Kelly quickly pressed a skeptical Gingrich on polls that show that Trump and other Republicans are fading.
KELLY: These are nonpartisan outlets that are just trying to call the electoral scoreboard.
NEWT GINGRICH: They're not nonpartisan outlets. Every outlet you described is part of the establishment.
KELLY: Fox - "Fox News" - really? Are we? I don't think so.
GINGRICH: Oh, come on.
KELLY: And they all...
FOLKENFLIK: There was Newt Gingrich, who, by the way, is a paid commentator for "Fox News," long an important player in conservative politics. Gingrich was assailing his network on its own primetime show, calling Fox a part of the establishment that opposes Trump. Kelly said Trump had been damaged by a series of revelations and accusations involving his treatment of women. Gingrich argued the media's coverage was biased.
GINGRICH: I mean you want to know why Donald Trump's had a rough time?
KELLY: If Trump is a sexual predator...
GINGRICH: He's not a sexual predator.
KELLY: OK, that's your opinion. I'm not taking a position on it.
GINGRICH: You can't say that. You could not defend that statement.
KELLY: I'm not taking a position on it.
GINGRICH: Now, I'm sick and tired of people like you using language that's inflammatory, that's not true.
FOLKENFLIK: The term sexual predator is severe, and Trump's many fans pounced today to echo Gingrich's cry on social media. But consider what Trump is accused of, starting with that "Access Hollywood" tape from 2005.
KELLY: 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 denied actually doing it at a debate to say that was untrue. He did it to me. He did it...
FOLKENFLIK: Kelly practiced law before becoming a reporter. Now consider what millions actually witnessed on her show last night - an agitated man in his 70s wagging his finger and lecturing an even-keeled-but-steely woman in her 40s about harassment.
GINGRICH: You are fascinated with sex, and you don't care about public policy.
KELLY: Me? Really?
GINGRICH: That's what I get out of watching you tonight.
FOLKENFLIK: Gingrich tried to deflect the conversation to accusations against Bill Clinton, which Kelly has covered. While speaker, Gingrich had an extramarital affair with a House staffer, even as the House sought to impeach Bill Clinton for lying about his own extramarital affair with an intern. Kelly didn't take the bait.
KELLY: You know what, Mr. Speaker? I'm not fascinated by sex, but I am fascinated by the protection of women.
FOLKENFLIK: In July, Megyn Kelly accused then-"Fox News" chairman Roger Ailes of having sexually harassed her earlier in her career. Ailes had for nearly a year offered Trump a sympathetic ear and political counsel, despite the fact Trump was publicly attacking Kelly. Ailes was forced out immediately after Kelly's accusations, and Ailes became an adviser to Trump. Trump - well, he loved what he saw last night on Fox.
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TRUMP: We don't play games, Newt, right? We don't play games.
FOLKENFLIK: What viewers saw was an expression of anger and precious little attempt to win over new votes. David Folkenflik, NPR News, New York.