March 7, 2019

DNC Bars Fox News From Hosting Debate

Editor's note: We couldn’t be more proud of one of our teammates, Isaac Rose-Berman, who penned his first op-ed this week in USA Today: “How college students can bridge American divides: 'Study abroad' in Alabama or New York.” Please give it a read, and share far and wide!

On Wednesday, DNC Chairman Tom Perez released the following statement: “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.” Reuters

Fox News Senior Vice President Bill Sammon stated in response: ‘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.’”Fox

Here is the New Yorker article for your reference. New Yorker

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From the Left

The left is highly critical of Fox, and generally thinks that the DNC made the right decision.

“The statement by Sammon is an interesting display of television statecraft. It highlights the work of the straight-news crew of Fox News, omitting any such endorsement of the opinion folks. Yet when it came time to expand the Fox News offerings into a stand-alone streaming service under the banner of Fox Nation, the network chose the opinion route, in full awareness that they provide the audience-convening heart of Fox News… Despite [Wallace, Baier and MacCallum’s] hard work and many very good interviews, none of them is the face of Fox News. That’s Hannity. Or Carlson. Or Doocy.”
Erik Wemple, Washington Post

“Some of the messaging from Fox personalities in response no longer has anything in common with good faith conservative opinion… It sounds nothing like healthy skepticism

“Much of it is plainly about deceiving millions of voters into believing that core functionings of our government -- whether it is law enforcement or congressional oversight -- no longer have any legitimacy. It’s rank propaganda, pure and simple, directed at insulating Trump from any measure of accountability, and at fortifying the ranks of the base in preparation for the wars over Trump’s intensifying oversight and legal travails to come, in advance of his reelection campaign.”
Greg Sargent, Washington Post

“Haven't mainstream outlets carried water for presidents for decades? Absolutely. Yet the relationship between Donald Trump and Fox News is distinctly different, bringing the channel closer to state television than anything the United States has ever known

“Trump's tweets both echo Fox News stories and shape them; the White House and Fox News are each other's programming directors. And perhaps most shocking and unprecedented: The cable channel is a direct line of communication to the White House. Just one example: Repeated poundings on Fox prompted Trump to reverse course on a budget deal, leading to the longest government shutdown in American history.”

Nicole Hemmer, CNN

“You don’t need to take Mayer’s reporting as gospel to see that Fox has a vested interest in keeping Trump in the White House, where he routinely receives formal and informal advice from Fox veterans past and present. Likewise, you can believe that Chris Wallace and Bret Baier are respectable journalists and still have serious doubts whether, as debate moderators, they would have been the ones truly running the show. And you can also think Democrats should make a more concerted effort to reach new audiences and still believe there are better ways to do that [than through Fox]—off the top of my head: travel to Wisconsin.”
Josh Voorhees, Slate

Some, however, posit that, “in rejecting Fox… [the DNC] gave up a shot at reaching cable news’ largest audience for a night of live, unedited pitches on how the crowded and experienced field of candidates would fix the country’s problems.”
Philip Elliott, Time

Others claim that, “the argument for DNC having a debate on Fox to ‘reach voters where they are’ seems to me, among other things, to truly misunderstand how audiences work for this kind of thing. By and large, people don't just… turn on a network and then they're pleasantly surprised ‘Oh, look! A debate!’ Audience data from 2016 suggests, that audiences go to the network that has the debate to watch them.”
Chris Hayes, Twitter

“The two issues with which he is most often associated, support for a balanced budget and opposition to free trade, put him at odds with both of our major political parties. An old-fashioned, soft-spoken Southerner, he nevertheless held views on so-called ‘social issues’ that would be to the left of the mainstream of the Republican Party, both then and now. He was a fervent supporter of the Vietnam POW/MIA movement in the late '80s and early '90s, but he was not in any sense a hawk. Never mind 2003. Perot opposed the first war in Iraq in 1990… Perot's death should be mourned by all Americans who regret the fact that it is no longer possible to make reasoned, non-ideological arguments about questions of public import, and by the devolution of our political life into mindless partisan squabbling.”
Matthew Walther, The Week

From the Right

The right defends Fox’s news anchors, and argues that this will ultimately harm the Democratic Party.

From the Right

The right defends Fox’s news anchors, and argues that this will ultimately harm the Democratic Party.

“If you're a Democratic White House hopeful, the road goes ultimately through the Midwest, the Rust Belt, and states like Florida, North Carolina, Arizona and Nevada. Therefore, appearing on Fox News and doing interviews with other outlets outside what is perceived largely as comfort zones will be a necessity, if capturing the same independent and blue-dog voters Trump swayed in 2016 is the goal.”
Joe Concha, The Hill

“No matter your view of Fox or theNew Yorker’s view of Fox, the party’s avoidance of the network reveals a shameful political gutlessness, especially considering that Fox intended to assign tame newsers Bret Baier and Chris Wallace to the debate, not feral opinionators Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity. Being president involves making unpalatable decisions and confronting tough customers on a daily basis. It means learning how to tell voters what they don’t want to hear and convince them they should like it. So any politician who can’t hold his own against a journalist from the other team should be disqualified from running.”
Jack Shafer, Politico

“I completely understand why many progressives dislike Fox. And while there’s much I can’t defend on the opinion side of Fox, it’s easy for me to defend the work of people like Bret Baier and Chris Wallace and the Fox News division. If you go back and look at any of the debates hosted by Fox — Democrat or Republican — you will be hard pressed to find any evidence that they were anything other than professional…

“[But] this isn’t about defending Fox. Fox is the most watched cable-news network. And if you think there are zero voters out there that Democrats need to reach out to, then this isn’t a big deal. But that’s simply not the case… In a world where millions of people voted for both Obama and Trump, the idea that the Democrats don’t need to speak to audiences outside of their base is just dumb, even if Democrats feel they don’t get a fair shake from Fox.”
Jonah Goldberg, National Review

Some, however, are less critical of the DNC’s decision. “[Fox] is a network that often operates in primetime as an arm of the White House comms team. The 9 p.m. guy talks to Trump regularly, has been described as his ‘shadow of chief staff,’ and campaigned with him at a rally shortly before the midterms….

“Even if you had every assurance from Fox that Wallace and Baier would be fair (and they would be), the decision to hand a debate to Trump TV would infuriate many Dem voters… It’s not a matter of Dems fearing that Wallace and Baier would turn a primary debate into some Hannityesque attack segment… but rather not wanting to reward an operation that’s effectively in a partnership with the man they’ll be facing next fall.”
Allahpundit, Hot Air

Others note that “the DNC seems to have a rather unique view of what constitutes ‘fair and neutral’... [During the 2016 primary] leaked emails from [the] organization indicated that the power brokers there had already decided in advance that Clinton would be the nominee, and essentially rigged the contest to make sure that Sanders would lose…

“The leaked emails showed [furthermore] that [Donna] Brazille, a CNN contributor at the time, fed Clinton questions ahead of a town hall debate hosted by the network. I’m not sure that constitutes what anyone might call ‘fair and neutral’ behavior.”
Marc Giller, The Resurgent

“If a dozen drones or missiles can do the kind of damage to the world economy as did those fired on Saturday—shutting down about 6 percent of world oil production—imagine what a U.S.-Iran-Saudi war would do to the world economy. In recent decades, the U.S. has sold the Saudis hundreds of billions of dollars of military equipment. Did our weapons sales carry a guarantee that we will also come and fight alongside the kingdom if it gets into a war with its neighbors?… the nation does not want another war. How we avoid it, however, is becoming difficult to see. John Bolton may be gone from the West Wing, but his soul is marching on.”
Patrick Buchanan, The American Conservative

“NBC and MSNBC embraced Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts in the first debate of Democratic presidential candidates Wednesday night, treating her like the star of the show. The debate led off with Warren, who had a huge popularity advantage from the start… NBC anchor Savannah Guthrie started it off sounding more like Warren’s press secretary. ‘You have many plans – free college, free child care, government health care, cancelation of student debt, new taxes, new regulations, the breakup of major corporations,’ Guthrie said, before teeing up an economy question. Guthrie even used Warren’s plan to break up tech companies as the foundation for a question for Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey… the round-robin final comments also ended with Warren, as Maddow asked her for the ‘final, final statement.’ That let NBC bookend the entire debate with Warren and Warren.”
Dan Gainor, Fox News

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

A libertarian's take

“Why did Modi pick this moment to do something so radical? Violence in Kashmir had been trending downwards for the last year, after all. The main reason, besides President Donald Trump's alarming offer to mediate a settlement, is that he wanted a distraction from India's mounting economic woes. India's GDP growth dropped from over 8 percent to 5.8 percent over the last year, and it is widely expected to dip further. Just as ominous has been the crash in consumer demand. India's usual problem has been an insufficient supply to meet its voracious appetite for vehicles, cell phones, and other similar goods. But sales figures for all consumer goods have posted a precipitous decline, slamming businesses that are dramatically scaling back investments.”
Shikha Dalmia, Reason

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