On Wednesday, Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman Tom Perez announced that he would not allow Fox News to host a Democratic primary debate during the 2020 cycle. The announcement was met with mixed reactions, with many coming questioning the decision.
“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 host a fair and neutral debate for our candidates. Therefore, Fox News will not serve as a media partner for the 2020 Democratic primary debates.”
Several of the anchors for Fox News took to Twitter following Perez’s announcement to condemn the decision, defending their reporting and their debate moderation from previous elections.
That’s really a shame. When it comes to fairness – our news product speaks for itself. We will continue to cover this 2020 race fairly & will continue to invite Democrats- Republicans & Independents on to talk about key issues & substance with our very large viewing audience https://t.co/z0TdftcVmz
— Bret Baier (@BretBaier) March 6, 2019
— John Roberts (@johnrobertsFox) March 6, 2019
Our large audience deserves to hear ALL the candidates who are running for the Presidency of the United States. We welcome them all, with our continued commitment to fair, professional journalism. I hope the #DNC will reconsider this decision. https://t.co/Hhep0b2nJK
— Martha MacCallum (@marthamaccallum) March 6, 2019
In a statement published by Mediaite, Bill Sammon, a Senior Vice President and Managing Editor for Fox, said:
“We hope the DNC will reconsider its decision to bar Chris Wallace, Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum, all of whom embody the ultimate journalistic integrity and professionalism, from moderating a Democratic presidential debate. 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.”
Several reporters outside of Fox News came to their defense, as well, noting that it could be bad for Democratic campaigns to avoid Fox altogether due to their large audience.
FWIW. Democrats can engage Fox News (and should) without giving the network a debate to host. Go on shows. Give access to their reporters. Reach their audience.
— Sam Stein (@samstein) March 6, 2019
PERSONAL OPINION: There are plenty of quality journalists at Fox, some of whom have been excellent questioners at past presidential debates. And really, if you can't answer questions — especially if they're not the questions you want asked — maybe you don't have good answers.
— Jonathan Allen (@jonallendc) March 6, 2019
This is a mistake for Democrats. But also a bad sign for the country. https://t.co/RTNVwhzufo
— Jonah Goldberg (@JonahNRO) March 6, 2019
Although Fox News had many defenders, CNN host Brian Stelter wasn’t one of them. He bashed Fox’s prime time lineup, claiming they “dehumanized” Democrats.
CNN’s Stelter defends DNC banning Fox News from hosting primary debates: "But every night in prime time, Democrats are dehumanized. They are attacked relentlessly by Fox News prime time hosts. It was hard for me to imagine a Democratic primary debate taking place in those hours" pic.twitter.com/G15RBVKjds
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) March 6, 2019
“But every night in prime time, Democrats are dehumanized. They are attacked relentlessly by Fox News prime time hosts. It was hard for me to imagine a Democratic primary debate taking place in those hours when figures like [Speaker] Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and [Rep.] Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) are constantly demonized and attacked. So the Democratic National Committee’s making that official and saying we’ll have nothing to do with Fox in this primary season.”
While Stelter and Perez are clearly on the same page with the prime time hosts at Fox, neither addressed the news reporting team of Baier, MacCallum, or Wallace, who Fox said would be moderating the debate. The New Yorker report cited by Perez also lacked any criticisms for the three potential hosts, even pointing to Wallace’s tough interviews with members of the Trump administration.
It isn’t yet clear if the DNC will reconsider their position, as Fox requested.