Washington (CNN)Donald Trump said Thursday in an interview with CNN that Fox News “apologized” to him for a mocking statement the television network issued two days before the GOP debate.
Trump said that while the network “could not have been nicer” as it tried to woo him back into attending the debate, he would stick to his plan of holding an event aimed at raising funds for veterans’ organizations.
“I was treated very unfairly by Fox. Since then they’ve been excellent, they’ve been very nice, but it’s too late,” Trump told CNN’s Brianna Keilar in an interview Thursday night aboard Trump’s private plane.
In a statement, Fox News said the channel’s CEO Roger Ailes had “three brief conversations” with Trump, where he “acknowledged his concerns about a satirical observation we made in order to quell the attacks on Megyn Kelly, and prevent her from being smeared any further.”
Fox said Trump offered to show up at the debate if Fox News contributed $5 million to his charities, though Trump said it wouldn’t engage in “a quid pro quo, nor could any money change hands for any reason.”
“In the last 48 hours, we’ve kept two issues at the forefront — we would never compromise our journalistic standards and we would always stand by our journalist, Megyn Kelly,” the statement said. “We have accomplished those two goals and we are pleased with the outcome. We’re very proud to have her on stage as a debate moderator alongside Bret Baier & Chris Wallace.”
Trump likened his decision to skip the Fox debate to how he would lead the country as president of the United States.
“I wanted to fight for myself just like I’ll fight for the country,” Trump said. “You have to stick up for yourself, you have to fight for yourself and you have to fight for your country.”
Trump also insisted that his decision to skip the debate was not to avoid tough questions and said he didn’t believe it would hurt him with Iowa voters, who will head to the caucuses on Monday.
He said he believed Iowans would see him as “the one person that will stand up for himself” and noted that he has “done more interviews than anybody.”
“I have nothing to hide,” Trump said.
Still, Trump dodged a question from Keilar on his previous support for late-term abortions, saying simply that “it’s false, I am pro-life,” before pivoting to attacking his chief rival in the race, Ted Cruz, who has called the billionaire out for his policy shifts.
Trump also suggested that he may have ultimately decided to attend the debate had he not committed to hosting an event Thursday night to benefit veterans.
“We’re going to be doing more than talking. We’re going to be raising millions of dollars,” Trump said of his Thursday night plans.
The website set up to collect donations already claims to have raised more than $380,000, funds which are being funneled through the Donald J. Trump Foundation.
The Trump campaign has yet to name the veterans groups that will receive the funds raised Thursday, but Trump’s son tweeted Thursday evening that Trump would announce the recipients at the event.