According to the New York Times, Fox News had once planned on having a debate between the two outsider candidates representing the presidential aspirations of the Democratic and Republican parties, but had to scrap its plans. On March 7, it was Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders who traded blows at the first Fox News Democratic town hall. Originally, a debate between Donald Trump and Sanders had been planned.
NYT reported that Fox News had hoped to have “made primary debate history” by featuring a debate between Democratic and Republican presidential candidates going against each other even before they are chosen as the nominees of their respective parties. While Sanders agreed to the scheme, and the Trump campaign was initially “very intrigued” with idea, it never materialized.
According to the newspaper, before the debate could be announced, Trump pulled out while citing scheduling conflicts. Fox News was willing to go ahead with a town hall featuring Sanders all by himself, but ultimately Clinton agreed to appear as well at the event. Fox News reporter Bret Baier hosted the event as part of his ‘Special Report’ programming. It was only after Fox had announced that Sanders would be the featured speaker that Clinton accepted an invitation she had received earlier.
As for Trump, he did not appear at a Republican presidential debate scheduled by Fox in January, but did attend a debate earlier this month. He has had run-ins with Fox, having criticized Fox News host Megyn Kelly for alleged bias.