The Democratic National Committee stands by its decision not to allow Fox News to host a Democratic primary debate in the 2020 presidential election, a party official told Cheddar on Thursday.
“Our role at the DNC is to make sure we have a fair process and we do not believe Fox News can have a fair debate,” the DNC communications director Xochitl Hinojosa said.
DNC Chairman Tom Perez announced the party’s decision earlier this week following a bombshell report from investigative journalist Jane Mayer in The New Yorker that outlined how Fox News’s coverage has moved far beyond its conservative bent and is now defined by the close relationship between President Trump and network executives. The report also cited sources who suggested that during the 2016 campaign, then-candidate Trump may been tipped off about some of the questions he would be asked during a Fox News-hosted debate.
“Fox has been both his shield and his sword,” Mayer writes. “The White House and Fox interact so seamlessly that it can be hard to determine, during a particular news cycle, which one is following the other’s lead.”
“Recent reporting has made it clear that we cannot rely on Fox to host a fair and neutral debate,” Perez said in a statement.
At the end of 2018, the DNC announced that 12 presidential primary debates will be held over the course of the 2020 election cycle, with six in 2019 and six in 2020.
Fox News urged the DNC to reconsider its decision. Fox reporters “embody the ultimate journalistic integrity and professionalism” and “offer candidates an important opportunity to make their case to the largest TV news audience in America,” the network's senior vice president, Bill Sammon, said in a statement.
Hinojosa added that the DNC’s concerns lie not with the reporters but with the network’s top brass. “If the top executives are in the pocket of Donald Trump, that is not a good thing and something that deeply concerns us. It is too much of a risk,” she said.
President Trump tweeted his thoughts on the decision:
Hinojosa acknowledged that Fox viewers are “an important audience” and people the DNC “needs to reach,” but urged candidates to go directly to them through other press events and campaign stops.
Yet, regarding the debates, “the damage is done,” Hinojosa said. “We have seen with Fox News that they have not been willing to be fair when it comes to their inappropriate behavior with Donald Trump.”
The first debate will be held in June 2019 and be hosted by NBC News, MSNBC, and Telemundo. CNN will host the second debate in July.
To accommodate the large number of primary candidates ー 14 and counting ー the summer debates have the option of taking place over two consecutive nights. The nightly lineups will be determined at random.
“My goal in this framework is to give the grassroots a bigger voice than ever before; to showcase our candidates on an array of media platforms; to present opportunity for vigorous discussion about issues, ideas and solutions; and to reach as many potential voters as possible,” Perez said in a statement.