WASHINGTON (AFP) - The Fox News chairman demanded an apology from Donald Trump on Tuesday (Aug 25) after he resumed attacks on popular TV host Megyn Kelly, dramatically reigniting a feud between the broadcaster and the Republican frontrunner.
Mr Trump used his Twitter account late Monday to slam Ms Kelly as she returned from vacation to host her show, a revival of his brutal criticism of her after she asked pointed questions of the bombastic billionaire during an Aug 6 debate featuring Republican presidential hopefuls.
Mr Trump retweeted a comment from a user calling Ms Kelly a "bimbo" and said her show "was much better without Megyn Kelly. Her replacement while she was out on vacation was much better!"
Ms Kelly likely had a "terrible vacation" because "she is really off her game", Mr Trump added.
The comments drew strong reaction from Fox chairman Roger Ailes, a former Republican adviser and strategist who still holds tremendous sway within the party.
MrTrump's "unprovoked attack on Megyn Kelly during her show last night is as unacceptable as it is disturbing", Mr Ailes said in a statement read on air by a Fox News anchor.
Ms 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", he added.
"Donald Trump rarely apologises, although in this case, he should."
The exchange was noteworthy because it comes after Mr Trump and Mr Ailes sought to make peace after the contentious debate, which aired on Fox and was watched by a record number of viewers.
Mr Trump launched a Twitter tirade against Ms Kelly the night after the debate, saying she "bombed" as a moderator, was the "loser" of the debate and had treated him unfairly by asking crude questions about his previous comments about women.
The tycoon has soared in the polls since announcing his presidential campaign in June. He comes across to many voters as a straight talker with no filter, antagonising the Washington establishment.
Republican rival Senator Lindsey Graham lashed out on Tuesday at Mr Trump, telling CNN that the real estate mogul's views on women and immigrants did not reflect today's GOP.
"If Donald Trump is the nominee, that's the end of the Republican Party," Mr Graham said.
Meanwhile, a new Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey in the key primary state of New Hampshire showed Mr Trump, at 35 per cent, clearly ahead of his GOP competitors.
PPP said the results put Mr Trump in the strongest position of any poll it had carried out since he threw his hat in the ring.
Trailing far behind in second place was Ohio Governor John Kasich at 11 per cent, followed by former HP chief executive Carly Fiorina at 10 per cent.
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker are tied at 7 per cent each.