Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Tuesday flatly rejected doing a town hall meeting on Fox News, calling the network a bastion for racists and giving her yet another first among the Democratic presidential field.
Her move marked a particular break with Sen. Bernard Sanders, a fellow progressive who made waves by appearing for a highly viewed town hall on the network known for its GOP-leaning viewership.
Ms. Warren said she isn’t interested in consorting with those she deems political enemies and said she didn’t want to be used to give the network an imprimatur of fairness.
“Here’s one place we can fight back: I won’t ask millions of Democratic primary voters to tune into an outlet that profits from racism and hate in order to see our candidates — especially when Fox will make even more money adding our valuable audience to their ratings numbers,” she tweeted.
Fox News declined to comment — though Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott has forecasted the network “is on track to be our highest advertising revenue year ever.”
In addition to Mr. Sanders, Sen. Amy Klobuchar has done a town hall, and Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand are slated to appear on the network.
Ms. Warren’s stance — she called it a “hard pass” on Twitter — thrilled left-wing groups, who loathe Fox and the hefty space it occupies in political discourse.
Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, called Ms. Warren’s move “a principled progressive movement decision,” despite the possible campaign upside.
“There’s no doubt that Warren’s anti-corruption, shake-up-the-system message and personal story of struggle growing up in Oklahoma would sell very well on Fox, possibly even showing scared Democratic voters that she is indeed the most electable Democrat,” he said.
But, Mr. Green concluded, “she knows that Fox is not a legitimate source of news and giving them a presidential town hall would increase their power.”
Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters for America, said if some major corporations can boycott Fox, Democratic presidential candidates should be able to do it.
“I understand the need to communicate with a wide audience. But there are other ways to reach conservatives — and they don’t require leaders to enable Fox News’ bigotry and lies,” Mr. Carusone said.
Yet the chance to address cable news’ biggest audience is enticing.
Former Rep. John Delaney of Maryland, another presidential hopeful, said he’d be happy to take Ms. Warren’s spot.
“If you’re not using your town hall, I will,” Mr. Delaney tweeted. “Democratic candidates have to campaign everywhere and talk to all voters.”
Mr. Sanders’ Fox News town hall last month was the most watched event of the 2020 election cycle to date, drawing 2.6 million viewers, easily outdistancing his town hall appearances on CNN.
Neil Sroka, spokesman for Democracy for America, said Ms. Warren’s response reflects one side of a debate in liberal-progressive circles over how best to handle the network.
“I don’t think there is a consensus within the progressive community about which one of these approaches is right,” Mr. Sroka said. The truth is what Warren said has a lot of salience and what Bernie decided to do — especially given his strong performance — also has a lot of salience.”
Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders are thought to be battling for some of the same like-minded voters who are looking for a candidate that has been a reliable champion for liberal causes over the course of their political careers.
Ms. Warren created some daylight with Mr. Sanders last month by becoming the first of the top-tier presidential contenders to call on the House to begin impeachment proceedings against Mr. Trump. Mr. Sanders has yet to embrace that call.
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