Bernie in the Fox's den: Sanders takes anti-Trump pitch straight to 'state TV'
The Democratic frontrunner will speak at a Fox News town hall. He says it’s necessary to speak to Trump voters. Others disagree
Lauren Gambino in Washington
Mon 15 Apr 2019
Bernie Sanders will finish a four-day tour of Trump Country on Monday, with a town hall on the president’s favorite network: Fox News.
It is an unexpected partnership, between a self-described democratic socialist and a media outlet that dedicates primetime to pundits who rail against a purported “creep” of socialism.
The event will be staged in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, a state Trump won by less than 1%, and it will be moderated by Foxanchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum.
Sanders is the first Democratic presidential candidate to appear on the network for such an event. He says it is a way to speak directly to Trump supporters, to make the case that the president is a “pathological liar” who has misled the working class. The booking is also important for Fox News, which was banned from hosting a Democratic primary debate.
Among Democrats, the booking has drawn criticism. Progressive groups are urging presidential contenders to boycott the network whose stream of pro-Trump commentary has led critics to liken it to unofficial “state TV”.
It’s unclear how seriously the DNC was considering giving Fox one of the debate slots even before the New Yorker story broke. Fox hosted back-to-back town halls with Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton during the 2016 primary, but the last time the network hosted an official Democratic debate was 2004.
In a recent interview with the Huffington Post, Sanders said: “When I go on Fox, what I will say is, ‘Look, many of you voted for Donald Trump, but he lied to you. He told you he was gonna provide healthcare for everybody. Yet his policies are to throw 30m people off of the health insurance they have …’
“How do you explain that to people who voted for Trump if you don’t talk to people who voted for Trump?”
Asked in the same interview if he believes the network is a “propaganda arm” of the White House, Sanders replied: “In most respects, I think it is.”
Distinguishing between its journalists and its primetime pundits who bring in most of its viewers, Fox News has aggressively defended its reporting operation.
Last month the Democratic National Committee (DNC) announced that it would exclude Fox News from the presidential primary debates, amid concern it would not be “fair and neutral”.
The DNC chair, Tom Perez, attributed the decision to an 11,000-word New Yorker article in which the veteran journalist Jane Mayer described how the 2016 election transformed a conservative-friendly news channel into a “mouthpiece” for the White House, providing as she did so fresh details on the intimate relationship between Fox and the Trump administration.
"...an 11,000-word New Yorker article in which the veteran journalist Jane Mayer described how the 2016 election transformed a conservative-friendly news channel into a “mouthpiece” for the 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 host a fair and neutral debate for our candidates,” Perez said in a statement first provided to the Washington Post. “Therefore, Fox News will not serve as a media partner for the 2020 Democratic primary debates.”
We know that the Republicans are going to continue trying to tie this young Muslim woman to terrorism and to the right's anti-Muslim fervor. And they'll continue trying to tie her to AOC and other young Dem congress people. and they'll try to tie them to the Dem party and liberalism.
Now, with 19 months until the 2020 election, Mr. Trump is seeking to rally his base by sounding that [be scared of Muslims] theme once again. And this time, he has a specific target: Representative Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota and one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress.
Mr. Trump and his team are trying to make Ms. Omar, one of a group of progressive women Democratic House members who is relatively unknown in national politics, a household name, to be seen as the most prominent voice of the Democratic Party, regardless of her actual position. And they are gambling that there will be limited downside in doing so.
...Privately, Mr. Trump’s advisers describe Ms. Omar as his ideal foil. Her remarks about the power of the pro-Israel lobby in the United States, combined with her role in a progressive contingent of freshman House Democrats who have sparked intraparty battles, have been treated as a gift by Republicans.