Fox News Loses Out on Hosting a Democratic Primary Debate

DNC Chair Tom Perez made the call after reporting that Fox may have leaked questions to Trump in 2016.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during the Fox News GOP debate in March, 2016, in DetroitDetroit Free Press/ZUMA

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

Fox News has lost the opportunity to host one of the Democratic Party’s on-air primary debates for the 2020 election, Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez announced Wednesday. The decision came after The New Yorker reported on the tight relationship between Fox and the Trump administration, including reports that the conservative television network had given then-candidate Donald Trump a heads-up about debate questions during the last election.

“I believe that a key pathway to victory is to continue to expand our electorate and reach all voters,” Perez told the Washington Post. “That is why I have made it a priority to talk to a broad array of potential media partners, including Fox News. 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.”

According to The New Yorker‘s Jane Mayer, the late network chief Roger Ailes may have tipped Trump off to a debate question from Megyn Kelly in 2015 about his treatment of women. A second tip about a question on whether the Republican contenders would support the eventual nominee may also have made its way to Trump before that debate took place. Mayer acknowledges that it’s hard to confirm both incidents, but there is plenty of other evidence that Fox helped Trump during the election. Today, many of its shows operate essentially as the administration’s mouthpiece. Trump has close relationships with several Fox hosts, and his communications director is former Fox executive Bill Shine. And Mayer reported that, before the 2016 election, Fox News chose not to run a story about Trump’s relationship with Stephanie Clifford, the porn star also known as Stormy Daniels—a decision that reportedly came from network owner and Trump supporter Rupert Murdoch.

Fox News has publicly denied that the Stormy Daniels story was killed to help Trump. Kelly has tweeted that she does not believe Trump saw the question in advance.

Following Perez’s decision, Fox released a statement expressing hope that the DNC chair would change his mind. Fox has put in a bid to host one of 12 debates scheduled to begin in June. Presidential debates generally attract millions of viewers, making it a lucrative opportunity for the TV networks.

This story has been updated.

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate