Sen. Bernie Sanders’ town hall this week on Fox News drew more viewers than any other similar event from the sea of candidates hoping to be the Democratic nominee who will take on President Donald Trump.
And while it’s not exactly a mystery that if you appear on the top-rated cable news network, more people will watch, the experience could prove to be an ice-breaker for other candidates trying to pump a little life into their efforts.
Candidates like Reps. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., and Tim Ryan, D-Ohio. Or South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
A campaign aide for Buttigieg, who is vying to be the first openly gay president, told the Daily Beast the candidate has been engaged in talks with Fox News for an event. Talks that reportedly began before Sanders’ town hall aired.
Swalwell has made a number of appearances in Fox News and his campaign told the Daily Beast, “[H]e’s willing to do a Fox town hall, and we expect to start discussions with the network soon regarding a time and place.”
But then, as a long shot, Swalwell desperately needs to find an audience.
Ryan’s campaign also said he is “willing to do a town hall with Fox News,” according to the online news source.
“[T]he campaign has reached out proactively to the network to express interest in this type of forum,” said Julia Krieger, communications director for Ryan’s campaign.
Somewhat surprisingly, the Daily Beast reported that Julián Castro’s campaign told them they are also in conversations with Fox News for an event. Castro, who served in the Obama administration as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, is one of the more radical progressives in the Democratic field.
According to Nielsen Media Research, Sanders town hall, held from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. ET and moderated by Fox News anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum, drew in a total of 2,554,000 viewers, including 489,000 viewers in the key 25-54 demographic.
Many of the other Democratic candidates have held already held similar events on CNN, which posted a dismal 913,000 viewers for the same hour as Sanders town hall, and just 281,000 in the 25-54 demographic.
With Sanders, a self-avowed democratic socialist, getting that kind of exposure on the network, President Trump was prompted to take a subtle shot at Fox News for holding the event.
“So weird to watch Crazy Bernie on [Fox News],” the president said, getting a little dig in at Baier and the selected audience for being so “nice.”
(Imagine the reception Trump would get holding a town hall on CNN or MSNBC.)
‘So weird’: Trump takes rare and not-so-subtle shot at Fox News after town hall with ‘Crazy Bernie’ https://t.co/VXIOp2svcg
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) April 16, 2019
This coming after the Democrat National Committee banned Fox News from hosting any 2020 Democratic primary debates, with DNC chairman Tom Perez questioning if their candidates would be ”treated fairly” — a concern the RNC apparently dismissed when Republicans appear on other networks.
That it also follows the network hiring former DNC chief Donna Brazile may prompt one to question if the network is trying to curry favor with the Democratic Party.
One thing we know for sure is that Fox News senior vice president Bill Sammon has said that the network hopes the DNC will “reconsider” — which would suggests Baier and MacCallum would have to be on their best behavior with Sanders.
“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 March. “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.”
Either way, as Fox News host Laura Ingraham noted, it’s not very smart for the party to shut out such a large audience.
“Duh! So stupid of them to cut off access to Fox viewers,” Ingraham tweeted.
Duh! So stupid of them to cut off access to Fox viewers. https://t.co/QfyHbrvdG6
— Laura Ingraham (@IngrahamAngle) April 17, 2019
Prior to Sanders’ event on Fox News, the highest rated 2020 town hall was on CNN and featured Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., according to the Daily Beast. Harris drew 1.95 million viewers, believe it or not.
The real question in all of this is how will Fox News viewers responded to a heaping helping of progressive left Democrats?
Unless it’s like watching a train wreck, as one social media user suggested.
Here’s a sampling of responses from Twitter:
All the questions were pre selected softball 🥎 questions. Fox turning into cnn fake news losing faith in fox
— Nehemias B. Enriquez (@nehemiasenriqu1) April 17, 2019
Yea, Fox just like CNN wants to do everything they can to defeat Trump, just like 2016.
James Murdoch donated the maximum allowable amount to the Pete Buttigieg campaign.
— Steph (@steph93065) April 17, 2019
That’s because the two of them were kind of soft on Bernie!!!
— glenn adelson (@GlennAdelson13) April 17, 2019
They don’t want Donna Brazile fixing it for Trump.
— Roscoe (@doctorfeelmeh) April 17, 2019
Won’t be watching.
— Sonia ODonnell (@OdonnellSonesco) April 17, 2019
Wasn’t planning on watching it anyway.
— Douglas Boldt 🇺🇸 (@DGBOLDT) April 17, 2019
Watching some of these Dem candidates arouses the same morbid fascination as watching a train wreck. These candidates should not equate good ratings with approval.
— Elizabeth Hall (@SunflowerLibby) April 17, 2019
A town hall is much different than a debate.
— robyn (@robthir43) April 17, 2019
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