April 21, 2019

We've seen Democratic candidate, Bernie Sanders hold a Town Hall on Fox News. This was after the DNC stated they would not participate in a primary debate on Fox News because it is clearly a propaganda network for Donald Trump and little else. Furthermore it propagates outright lies, and vile racist hate speech — something with which Democrats rightly do not wish to be associated, or to be seen as potentially lending legitimacy to with their presence. Yet, Sen. Sanders went on there and held a town hall, wowed the audience that had a large contingent of Sanders fans, and really got under Trump's skin. Fox got to claim victory, in getting someone running as a Democrat on their network, and in taking another step towards said legitimacy.

Now there is news that more Democratic candidates are giving this approach serious consideration. Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters, joined Joy Reid to explain why this is an extremely bad idea for reasons different, but related to, the moral ones that led the DNC to refuse to participate in a debate on the network to begin with. It has to do with M.O.N.E.Y. Reid mentioned that Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Julián Castro, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Cory Booker are all saying they're considering doing town halls on Fox News. Here is Carusone explaining why they shouldn't. At least, not right now.

CARUSONE: There are two things going on at the same time and I want to split them. One is a question of whether or not it's okay to partner with Fox News. These are not just appearances, there are negotiations, you have to actually partner with them. It's a media partnership for one event. There's one question there. The second question is one of timing. Should they be doing it right now in this moment? One of the reasons Fox has been aggressively reaching out to the campaigns right now is because they're desperately trying to reach their marks for their 70% threshold for selling all of their ads for next year. There's this period called the up-fronts where networks sell their ads in the future. Fox news has had a lot trouble. That's why they suspended Jeanine Pirro. It was to signal to advertisers they were getting serious. So, I think in this moment right now, there's no reason for any Democratic or presidential candidate to be giving Fox News the lifeline that it so desperately needs.

REID: Interesting. We did get a statement. We reached out to Fox News to get a statement on what you just talked about, on their up-front presentations, and this was their statement: "Fox news had a very successful up-front presentation where our advertisers walked away feeling extremely positive about our story and the value of our audience, and we expect no change in our business going forward." That was from Marianne Gambelli, president of Ad Sales at Fox News. What's your response to that?

CARUSONE: My response is, one, they had to change the programming of that event because there was a massive demonstration and protest outside Fox News. Two, Tucker Carlson was supposed to speak at that event and did not because of what was going on in the news at that time. If you notice what she didn't say is they signed contracts at that event. That's because they had a lot of trouble selling ads in the room. The conversation ended up turning into whether or not Fox News is a toxic asset. That's why they doubled down on these Democratic town halls. What they tried to do is get some of these big candidates to come on the network, to partner with them. Their theory was that that would signal to media buyers and advertisers it was safe to come back in the water. That's what the strategy is. I don't think it's making sense to do it right now. I'm willing to have a debate about whether or not they should go on Fox News generally. In this moment, right now, it is nothing but destructive and undermines all of the work to hold Fox News accountable.

Why do they want to do this? Don't be fooled into thinking Sen. Sanders' town hall changed minds of Fox's viewers about Trump. Like I said. Those weren't all Fox viewers in the audience. The only thing Democrats will accomplish by doing a town hall on Fox News will be to legitimize Fox News.

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