Staff Columnist

Democrats should seize a chance to crack the Fox bubble

Twenty four 2020 Democratic presidential candidates are seen in a combination from file photos (L-R top row): U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, Kirsten Gillibrand, Michael Bennet and former U.S. Senator Mike Gravel. (L-R middle row): Former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke, U.S. Representatives Tulsi Gabbard, John Delaney, Eric Swalwell, Tim Ryan, Seth Moulton, former HUD Secretary Julian Castro and former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. (L-R bottom row): Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Former Gov. John Hickenlooper, Gov. Jay Inslee, Andrew Yang, Marianne Williamson, Mayor Wayne Messam, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.   REUTERS/Files
Twenty four 2020 Democratic presidential candidates are seen in a combination from file photos (L-R top row): U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, Kirsten Gillibrand, Michael Bennet and former U.S. Senator Mike Gravel. (L-R middle row): Former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke, U.S. Representatives Tulsi Gabbard, John Delaney, Eric Swalwell, Tim Ryan, Seth Moulton, former HUD Secretary Julian Castro and former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. (L-R bottom row): Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Former Gov. John Hickenlooper, Gov. Jay Inslee, Andrew Yang, Marianne Williamson, Mayor Wayne Messam, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. REUTERS/Files

Democrats have been arguing in recent weeks over whether their party’s presidential aspirants should accept invitations for televised town halls on Fox News.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren was invited. Nevertheless, she resisted.

“Fox News is a hate-for-profit racket that gives a megaphone to racists and conspiracists — it’s designed to turn us against each other, risking life and death consequences, to provide cover for the corruption that’s rotting our government and hollowing out our middle class,” wrote Warren in a lengthy takedown of the network on Twitter.

So no town hall? “Hard pass,” she said. California Sen. Kamala Harris also declined.

But three candidates have appeared on Fox, including Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, whose town hall was this past week. Mayor Pete used his time on Fox to blast Fox.

“I mean, when you’ve got Tucker Carlson saying that immigrants make America dirty, when you’ve got Laura Ingraham comparing detention centers with children in cages to summer camps,” Buttigieg said. “Then there is a reason why anybody has to swallow hard and think twice before participating in this media ecosystem.”

Others would just be happy with an invite.

“If you’re not using your town hall, I will. Democratic candidates have to campaign everywhere and talk to voters,” tweeted Former Maryland congressman John Delaney in response to Warren’s diatribe.

Some of this debate is about strategy. Why bother going on Trump state television? You’re never going to sway its viewers and, as Warren asserts, you’re only feeding a destructive beast.

On the other hand, there are 24 beeping candidates. If a Little League team in Lamoni invites you to throw out the first pitch, you go. Hurry.

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I readily concede Fox News is a Trumpian fever swamp, where the last vestiges of real journalism are no match for the network’s fleet of harping charlatans. I can understand candidates’ trepidation.

Still, I say go on Fox. But, like the network, I’m biased.

Last fall, our editorial board invited dozens of local, state and congressional candidates to meet with us as part of our endorsement process. Several Republican Statehouse candidates refused, including Gov. Kim Reynolds. Democratic U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack also declined our invite, because one of our five editorial board members previously worked on his opponent’s campaign.

Republicans who control the Statehouse didn’t like all the columns and editorials we wrote that were critical of many actions they took. They were convinced we would treat them unfairly, so they wouldn’t sit down with us for 45 minutes to field our questions.

Then, when we were left with little choice but to endorse their opponents over an empty chair, the chairman of the state GOP and others harangued us on Twitter, etc. It was a pretty neat bit of strategery. You can never go wrong bashing the media.

Bottom line, these candidates concluded it was a better idea to shun us and bash us than try to convince us or change our minds or find any common ground. Because we disagreed on issues, the thought of sitting in a room with us was too much to bear. I fully expect 2020 will bring more of the same, although the invites will go out and hope springs eternal. Reynolds did meet with our board earlier this year.

So when I hear the contention Democratic candidates should remain solidly on their side of no man’s land, and preach mainly to their own outraged choir occupying trench left, I can’t get on board.

After all, where has retreating into our comfortable, thick partisan bubbles gotten us?

Well, we’re on the precipice of yet another presidential election where the winner will crawl from the rubble after a scorched-earth campaign and lead a nation where roughly half of its inhabitants will see him or her as abhorrent or illegitimate, for whatever reasons. There will be no peace in our time.

We’re in a place where a president obstructs justice and body checks our checks and balances, but his backers only dig in deeper. Not one inch shall be given in the epic battle with the horrendous other.

Blame Trump. Blame Fox. They certainly deserve it. But when the blaming’s done, then what?

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Something’s got to give. Returning to the quaint notion of selling your vision and ideas to skeptical, even hostile, audiences is a place to start. Go on Fox, take Chris Wallace’s questions. Sure, it’s a long shot you’ll move the needle. But see if you can crack that bubble, just a little.

You’ll also be reaching influential Fox viewers.

“Hard to believe that @FoxNews is wasting time on Mayor Pete, as Chris Wallace likes to call him. Fox is moving more and more to the losing (wrong) side in covering Dems,” President Donald Trump tweeted.

Go on Fox, annoy the president. Case closed.

l Comments: (319) 398-8262; todd.dorman@thegazette.com

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