Citing alleged inappropriate ties between Fox News and President Trump’s inner circle, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) announced on Wednesday that it will not allow the right-leaning television network to host any Democratic primary debates during the upcoming election season. Fox News is the most-watched cable news network in the world.
The decision comes as a direct result of a New Yorker story in the March 11 edition of the weekly magazine. The story lays out the claim that Fox News has become a de facto propaganda arm of the Trump White House.
“Recent reporting in the New Yorker on the inappropriate relationship between President Trump, his administration and FOX News has led me to conclude that the network is not in a position to hold a fair and neutral debate for our candidates. Therefore, FOX News will not serve as a media partner for the 2020 Democratic Primary Debates,” DNC Chairman Tom Perez said in a statement.
The DNC will hold as many as a dozen debates throughout the upcoming primary season, which are expected to begin in June of this year. Debates are scheduled to run on NBC, MSNBC, and Telemundo. In July, CNN will also host a debate.
Fox News Senior Vice President and Managing Editor Bill Sammon said in a statement that he hoped the Democrats would reconsider. Sammon brought up network journalists Chris Wallace, Bret Baier, and Martha MacCallum, “all of whom embody the ultimate journalistic integrity and professionalism,” according to Sammon.
“They’re the best debate team in the business and they offer candidates an important opportunity to make their case to the largest TV news audience in America, which includes many persuadable voters.”
Bret Baier also chimed in on Twitter. “That’s really a shame. When it comes to fairness — our news product speaks for itself.”
Of course, President Trump got his two cents in on the subject. In a tweet late Wednesday, the president said, “Democrats just blocked @FoxNews from holding a debate. Good, then I think I’ll do the same thing with the Fake News Networks and the Radical Left Democrats in the General Election debates!”
The New Yorker piece, written by Jane Mayer, honed in on the relationship between former Fox executive and current White House Communications Director Bill Shine, host Sean Hannity, and members of the Trump White House:
After members of the press pool got out of vans and headed over to where the President was about to speak, they noticed that Sean Hannity, the Fox News host, was already on location. Unlike them, he hadn’t been confined by the Secret Service, and was mingling with Administration officials, at one point hugging Kirstjen Nielsen, the Secretary of Homeland Security. The pool report noted that Hannity was seen “huddling” with the White House Communications Director, Bill Shine.
Gee, you mean that sometimes networks get a “heads-up” from bureaucrats friendly to their news agenda? Who would have thought that?
Mayer seems to have a big problem with former Fox employee Shine having a role in the Trump White House. I wonder if she has the same concerns about former White House Communications Director George Stephanopoulos hosting ABC’s Sunday morning news program This Week?
Did she see a similar conflict of interest when former Time magazine managing editor Rick Stengel left journalism to work in the Obama Administration State Department? How about when Jay Carney left his job as Time’s Washington Bureau Chief to work in the Obama White House?
In just the first four years of the Obama presidency, more than two dozen journalists left jobs to work for the administration. So, take your pick; the outrage over Trump hiring journalists is either phony or hypocritical. Or both.
Mayer was also horrified about allegations that disgraced and now-deceased former Fox Chairman Roger Ailes tipped then-candidate Trump about debate questions that were to be asked by former Fox personality Megan Kelly during a 2015 debate.
Again, where have we heard about something like that before? Oh, right! Back during the 2016 presidential debates when CNN personality and former DNC Chairwoman Donna Brazile leaked debate questions to Hillary Clinton.
The hypocrisy showed by the DNC should be stunning, but it isn’t anymore. It’s what we’ve come to expect in these days of extreme political polarization. And worse, the DNC’s shunning of Fox is, allegedly, based on one virulently anti-Trump and anti-Fox News article in a virulently anti-Trump magazine.
But the hypocrisy isn’t what should concern rank-and-file Democrats; it’s the stupidity. Fox is the highest rated cable news network — none of the others are even close. If their true aim is to win over hearts and minds of voters who may be questioning their allegiance to Trump, they should air multiple debates on Fox, not shut Fox out entirely.