DNC Rejects Fox News as Partner in 2020 Primary Debates

March 6, 2019 by Dan McCue
The News Corp. building in Midtown Manhattan in New York shows the Fox News broadcast below their news ticker of President Donald Trump's speech to a joint session of Congress on February 28, 2017. (Richard B. Levine/Sipa USA/TNS)

The Democratic National Committee said Wednesday that it will not partner with Fox News for the upcoming presidential primary debates, citing a story in this week’s New Yorker on the close ties between the channel and President Donald Trump.

The article, by New Yorker correspondent Jane Mayer, details the longstanding ties between Fox News and the White House.

According to Mayer, the bond between Fox News and Trump was forged by former chief Roger Ailes, who acted as an advisor to the Trump campaign after leaving the channel amidst a sexual harassment scandal.

Since then, the author writes, a galaxy of the channel’s current and former stars have “practically become part of the Trump family.”

Among other things, the author delves at length into allegations Ailes tipped Trump to potential questions he would face in a 2016 primary debate.

On Wednesday morning, DNC Chairman Tom Perez said in light of New Yorker’s reporting on “the inappropriate relationship” between President Trump, his administration and Fox News, he concluded 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,” Perez said.

Fox News was one of several media outlets the Democrats had been speaking to about possible media partnerships.

The Democratic National Committee plans to hold as many as 12 debates during the primary contest, including six this year. MSNBC, NBC News and Telemundo are partnering with the committee on the first debate, which is planned for June, and CNN will broadcast the second debate, in July.

Fox News had reportedly been lobbying for a debate of its own.

In a statement, Fox News senior vice president and managing editor Bill Sammon, who is based in Washington, said the network hoped the DNC would 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,” Sammon said in a written statement.

Fox News has not hosted a Democratic presidential debate in several election cycles. The channel and the DNC did plan to partner on a primary debate in San Francisco in 2016, but the event was later shelved.

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