Democrats blacklisted Fox News for the 2020 presidential primary debates — here’s what’s going on

Then-Republican candidate Donald Trump at the first Fox News-hosted debate.

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Then-Republican candidate Donald Trump at the first Fox News-hosted debate.
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Scott Olson/Getty Images

  • President Donald Trump fired back at the Democratic National Committee after it decided to exclude the Fox News Channel from broadcasting any of its candidates’ debates during the 2020 US presidential primary.
  • The DNC’s decision to blacklist Fox News prompted a response from other journalists, some of whom suggested it was not a good look for the party.
  • Bret Baier, Martha MacCallum, and Chris Wallace are all anchors whose respective time slots precede the shows from Fox News’ popular opinion hosts like Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham.
  • Several 2020 Democratic candidates have already appeared for exclusive interviews with Fox News anchors in recent weeks, including Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.
  • Fox News anchors have previously been praised by their peers for their work, and some of that praise has come from journalists at competing news networks.

President Donald Trump fired back at the Democratic National Committee after it decided to exclude Fox News Channel from broadcasting any of its candidates’ debates during the 2020 US presidential primary.

“Democrats just blocked [Fox News] from holding a debate,” Trump tweeted Wednesday night. “Good, then I think I’ll do the same thing with the Fake News Networks and the Radical Left Democrats in the General Election debates!”

DNC chairman Tom Perez said that he considered several “potential media partners,” for the 2020 primary and decided to exclude Fox News after a New Yorker article published online suggested the network had “become propaganda” for the Trump administration.

The article, which was anonymously sourced from former Trump campaign officials and former Fox News executives, describes how the network allegedly maintains close ties to the Trump administration and intentionally provides favorable coverage.

“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.

“Therefore, FOX News will not serve as a media partner for the 2020 Democratic primary debates.”

Fox News senior vice president Bill Sammon said in a statement that he hoped the DNC would reverse its decision.

“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,” Sammon said in his statement.

“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,” Sammon added.

The DNC’s decision also prompted a response from other journalists, some of whom suggested it was not a good look for the party.

“There are plenty of quality journalists at Fox, some of whom have been excellent questioners at past presidential debates,” NBC News political reporter Jonathan Allen tweeted on Wednesday. “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.”

“Whether it’s the case or not, it sends a message of being afraid of something,” New York Times White House correspondent Maggie Haberman added. “Which is what Trump feeds off in opponents.”

Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, former anchor Megyn Kelly, and anchor Bret Baier.

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Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, former anchor Megyn Kelly, and anchor Bret Baier.
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REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk

Baier, MacCallum, and Wallace are all anchors whose respective time slots precede the shows from Fox News’ popular opinion hosts like Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham.

Several 2020 Democratic candidates have already appeared for interviews on Fox News in recent weeks, including Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. Perez has also been interviewed by Fox News anchors, telling Baier at the end of an interview in late January, “it’s always good to be with you.”

“That’s really a shame,” Baier said on Twitter. “When it comes to fairness – our news product speaks for itself.”

“Our large audience deserves to hear ALL the candidates who are running for the Presidency of the United States,” MacCallum tweeted. “We welcome them all, with our continued commitment to fair, professional journalism.”

Fox News has previously hosted town halls exclusively for Democratic candidates. During the 2016 Democratic primaries, the network hosted a town hall in Detroit for Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. The event was held one day before the Michigan Democratic primary and was moderated by Baier.

Fox News anchors have previously been praised for their work, and some of that praise has come from journalists at competing news networks.

“Wells done by Chris Wallace,” CNN political analyst David Gregory tweeted after Wallace moderated the last presidential debate between Trump and Clinton in October 2016. “I would have liked fewer topics and more engagement, but tough questions for both. Kept order. He’s a pro.”

“Nice work, Chris Wallace,” Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold also tweeted after the event.