Breaking with several top candidates in the 2020 Democratic primary field, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) on Tuesday publicly vowed not to appear on Fox News, calling the network a “hate-for-profit” enterprise.
In a lengthy Twitter thread, Warren laid out her case for turning down invitations from Fox News.
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.
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) May 14, 2019
“I won’t ask millions of Democratic primary voters to tune into an outlet that profits from racism and hate in order to see our candidates — especially when Fox will make even more money adding our valuable audience to their ratings numbers,” she added.
Warren’s pronouncement sets her apart from several other candidates vying for the Democratic nomination next year. Already, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) held a widely viewed town hall on Fox News last month, in which he forcefully criticized President Donald Trump on the network that often serves as his own propaganda arm.
South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg also made a memorable appearance on Fox News in March, and is reportedly working to schedule a town hall of his own on the network in the coming weeks, as is Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) just held her own Fox News town hall last week.
The crux of Warren’s argument, as with most of the proposals she has put forth since launching her presidential campaign, is rooted in economics.
“Hate-for-profit works only if there’s profit, so Fox News balances a mix of bigotry, racism, and outright lies with enough legit journalism to make the claim to advertisers that it’s a reputable news outlet,” she wrote on Twitter. “It’s all about dragging in ad money — big ad money.”
She went on to note several successful campaigns targeting the advertisers who do business with the network in just the last year. Laura Ingraham was one such target after she attacked a high school student and school shooting victim from Parkland, Florida, on the airwaves of her nationally televised primetime propaganda show. White supremacist Tucker Carlson was another victim of an advertiser exodus from which he has yet to fully recover — advertising revenue plummeted nearly 50% this year from 2018’s figures, and his nightly show has struggled to fill the airtime normally reserved for commercials.
By lending legitimacy to Fox News by appearing on the network’s supposed “straight news” programs, argues Warren, Democrats are effectively undermining the efforts of progressive activists to hold the company responsible.
Warren’s line in the sand is one several other prominent Democrats have been more than willing to cross. In March, former Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Donna Brazile made headlines when she signed on as a regular contributor to the network, explaining to the New Yorker that her decision was rooted in a desire to return to a time when disagreements could be aired out with a measure of civility.
“The challenges I would often have by appearing on Fox News were the kind of challenges I thought we needed,” she told the New Yorker. “To be able to talk to people in the suburbs, to be able to talk to people in the city, to be able to talk to people who may be left-of-center or center-right. I found it challenging to be able to communicate and to, you know, disagree.”
That sentiment — of reaching an audience perhaps not accustomed to hearing from progressive lawmakers and candidates — was echoed by several of the campaigns in the 2020 field.
“Pete’s been clear throughout this campaign that he plans to meet voters where they are,” Buttigieg national press secretary Chris Meagher told ThinkProgress. “It doesn’t do us any favors to communicate only within partisan silos, and you will see him go on a wide variety of news outlets and platforms because he respects and wants to communicate with voters — no matter their preferred news source.”
And after Sanders announced his intention to participate in a town hall, he defended the decision to Trevor Noah on The Daily Show.
“To me, it is important to distinguish Fox News from the many millions of people who watch Fox News,” he said. “And I think it is important to talk to those people and say, ‘you know what? I know that many of you voted for Donald Trump, but he lied to you.'”
Reaching Trump voters — particularly in states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio, where Barack Obama won the presidency in 2008 and 2012 — has become an almost singular obsession for Democratic candidates. Where to find them and how to connect with them is where Warren parts company with the others.