Bill Maher gave a boost to Fox News last night when he attacked Democrats for refusing to hold their primary debate on the network. But Maher failed to recognize that a primary debate is no venue for confronting Fox. Nor is it the be all and end all for Democratic appearances on Fox.
On his Real Time with Bill Maher show last night, Maher conflated a Democratic primary debate on Fox with all Democratic appearances on the networkl:
MAHER: Grow a pair. Last week the Democrats made a terrible decision when they announced that they turned down Fox News’ offer to host one of their 2020 primary debates, saying Fox was nothing more than propaganda.
OK, so why not go on Fox and tell them that? You want to be in the big leagues but you refuse to ever play an away game? You don’t like the questions that Fox News might ask so you’re deciding to not take any questions at all? How very Trump of you.
This is a fundamental problem with the Democratic Party. They look weak, running from a fight when they should be in there throwing punches. Republicans never shy away from coming on this show.
Democrats shouldn’t debate Fox News and each other at the same time
The Democrats now have 15 declared presidential candidates and three more deemed likely to run. A primary debate is the place for them to distinguish themselves to the Democratic electorate. That means questions and discussions should be framed and geared toward those issues Democrats care most about. No matter how highly you think of the journalistic integrity and chops of Chris Wallace, Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum, they are more likely to ask about Hillary Clinton’s emails than plans to fight voter suppression.
Democrats will have a full plate debating each other during the primary season. Simply put, there’s no reason to make room for Fox at this table, not at this point.
But Maher Is Right That Democrats Should Start Throwing Punches Directly At Fox
Just because Democrats have refused to hold a primary debate on Fox does not mean the presidential candidates will not appear on the network. Amy Klobuchar has already been interviewed by Baier. Pete Buttigieg is scheduled to appear on Fox News Sunday tomorrow. Likely candidate Eric Swalwell has appeared many times on the network. There’s no doubt in my mind that more candidates will follow.
But so far, I have yet to see any Democratic candidate or surrogate directly confront Fox for what it is.
We all know that Fox News has become Trump TV, especially since Jane Mayer's blockbuster article in The New Yorker last week. Regardless of who’s asking the questions, how good their journalism or their personal feelings, so long as they are on the Fox payroll, Fox is the master.
The number one issue for Democrats is defeating Trump in 2020. Sadly, defeating Trumpism may be a larger problem. Regardless of Trump's fate in November, 2020, Fox News will probably still be with us, spitting out the propaganda that helped propel him into office in the first place.
So while Democrats shouldn’t behave like Trump they need to show viewers they can deck him, figuratively speaking, of course. Dems, that means you have to get into the arena, strut your stuff, float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.
But not during a primary debate!
Watch Maher’s misguided commentary below, from the March 15, 2019 Real Time.
But I would never go along with having Fox News actually host anything like a presidential debate. They are not a legitimate news service and their intentions have been clear throughout their existence. Allowing them to pretend to be objective news anchors just helps angry Right Wingers perpetuate their myths about the channel and about the media in general.
And the problems with Fox News and its propaganda aims have only become more focused and unpleasant with the advent of the Pence White House. Fox News is fully committed to Pence, and is enjoying the fact that its edicts are regularly followed by Pence’s angry Twitter spokesman. The only thing a Democratic candidate would accomplish by doing anything on Fox News today would be to fall into various “gotcha!” traps and to provide soundbites that would no doubt be taken out of context for maximum embarrassment value. Even the Fox News hosts have demonstrated that they cannot be trusted. Smith is the only one with even a modicum of interest in actual journalism, and he’s tainted by the fact that he’s happily stayed at this network throughout all their multiple documented problems.
I agree that a broader audience will tune in to whichever channel hosts a general election presidential debate. But that broader audience would do a lot better if they are shown a debate on an actual news network and not Fox News. The Fox News execs should be told, flat out, “You have spent the past decade pushing vicious propaganda and smears and you are not legitimate. You have sown hatred and lies. You need to think about your behavior and do something to show the American people that you understand that what you’ve done is wrong. You are not an appropriate venue for any legitimate candidate.”
I note that Pence’s angry Twitter spokesman has stated that he doesn’t wish to have any debates on any network BUT Fox News, which I suppose likely means that there will not be any debates with him. On the other hand, Trump is a terrible debater so he’s frankly just sparing himself another embarrassment like the ones we saw in 2016.
I don’t see any point in Democrats doing a primary debate on Fox News. By definition, a primary debate is targeting party faithful. The most faithful. That’s the antithesis of the Trump TV audience. Maher should realize this because he routinely call Fox News “State TV”.
Letting Fox News later host one of the presidential debates is a different matter. A broader audience will tune into whatever channel hosts the presidential debates. Particularly if Fox entertainment broadcasts it with Fox News supplying the hosts.
But the point stands that Fox News has established itself very much as propaganda. It’s always been propaganda, but the situation has become a lot more virulent over the past three years with the advent of the Pence White House. Fox News has squarely positioned itself as the official line of this White House, in fact even pushing Pence and his spokesman into taking various positions that Fox News pundits have advocated. They have also pushed hard for bigotry and viciousness whenever possible.
It’s not just pointless for Democratic candidates to go on Fox News to debate each other or otherwise – it’s downright foolhardy. Fox News has openly declared its hostility to them and its gleeful support of the Pence White House. The only possible reason Fox News would host ANYTHING for Democratic candidates is to attack them. The appropriate response by Democrats everywhere is the one taken here – to publicly state that Fox News is not a legitimate news service and that it does not deserve that respect. It is a propaganda outlet for angry Right Wingers who wish to bully everyone they can.
When this epoch of our history is concluded, hopefully at the end of next year if Dems actually show up to vote in the swing states, Fox News will be in the same boat as the many other deplorables across the US who openly and happily let their inner bigots fly in everyone else’s faces. Like the other deplorables, Fox News will not be able to walk back their conduct. They’ll just have to live with the judgment of the rest of us, and accept the consequences of their actions.
I have zero respect for Coulter so it says a lot that I thought she came off looking classy next to him. I haven’t watched the show since but I wanted to hear what he had to say about Fox.
But there have been times, and they seem to be increasing, that he chooses to try to be smarter (and, of course, more controversial) and ends up looking like a total asshole. This is one of those times, and I’m beginning to find other things to do rather than watch his show.
The Foxies also will lose more sponsors over the shocking detailed documents-with names attached.