Wednesday was a tough day for those at Fox News who maintain some integrity. The Democratic National Committee (DNC) announced that it wouldn’t be partnering with Fox News for any of its 12 primary debates — big-money, high-visibility events that often find their way into the history books.
In a statement, DNC Chairman Tom Perez said the organization had spoken with a “broad array” of media organizations, Fox News included. However: “Recent reporting in the New Yorker on the inappropriate relationship between President Trump, his administration and Fox News has led me to conclude 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.”
Host Bret Baier, who would have been front and center at a Fox News Democratic debate, tweeted:
Want to know what else is a shame? The way the Democratic Party is framed on Fox News precincts that are out of the control of a guy like Bret Baier. An example arose on Wednesday night’s edition of “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” on which the host addressed immigration, by far his most passionate topic. To Tucker Carlson, the calculations involving this debate aren’t terribly complicated: It’s a matter of prioritizing those who are already here over those determined to enter without authorization. “I’m an American, and my interest is in my country, which is the United States of America, and I don’t believe that having tens of millions of people illegally in your country or using social services is good for my country. It may be good for theirs, it’s not good for mine,” said Carlson on Wednesday night’s show.
That’s a step up from the remark that landed Carlson in trouble with advertisers a couple of months ago: “We have a moral obligation to admit the world’s poor, they tell us, even if it makes our own country poor and dirtier and more divided,” he said.
On Wednesday’s program, Carlson invited radio host Buck Sexton to agree with him on the situation at the border. The host asked whether another country would put up with the crisis. No, responded Sexton, who continued, “What you really see … is the Democratic Party is not opposed to illegal immigration. I think that’s pretty blatantly —”
Jumping right on the point, Carlson said, “Well, they are not for America. They’re actively against America. I mean, I don’t think there’s any other — I’m a charitable person. It’s Ash Wednesday, I want to be a good Christian, but I don’t know what other conclusion you reach."
During the 2016 primary cycle, the Erik Wemple Blog, too, argued in favor of a Fox News-DNC debate. The DNC, we contended, could use the gesture as a talking point: The Democrats are looking to unite this country. Look at how we partnered with Fox News!
Too much has changed since then, however. The partnership between opinion-side Fox Newsers with Trump is a disqualifying consideration. But so is the rhetoric from Carlson’s show on Wednesday night. We asked Fox News to clarify the host’s thoughts on the matter. Was he trying to say that the Democrats were traitors? Subversives?
And if they’re such a bad influence, why is Carlson affiliated with them? On Thursday, the Erik Wemple Blog received confirmation from the D.C. Board of Elections that Carlson’s party affiliation remains Democratic, as we noted in the space years ago. Now, the District is predominantly Democratic and runs closed primaries, so a guy like Carlson would be sidelined from meaningful votes if he were to change his registration.
Still — if Carlson were a man of principle, he’d rip up his voter registration faster than the Erik Wemple Blog can say “Mary Cheh.” That’s the lawmaker who represents Carlson on the D.C. Council. We’ve asked Fox News whether it mentioned Carlson’s party affiliation in lobbying the DNC for debate opportunities.