On Friday, a group of House Democrats underwent a “Winning on Fox News” class. I, for one, support the effort – if they are able to take the bullies by the horns.
Liberal Jess McIntosh was one of the trainers despite her own recent decision not to appear on the network as a Democratic strategist. But the calculation for elected officials is different, McIntosh argues. She told VICE News.
“I’m very wary of Democrats lending legitimacy to the propaganda arm of the Republican Party,” she said. “But I think it’s important for elected officials to do it because they have to represent the people who didn’t vote for them.”
Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) agrees, despite the “Democrats should avoid legitimizing the network by appearing on it” belief among the left:
If I thought suddenly, if Democrats all stopped going on Fox, somehow Fox wouldn’t exist, I think that would be a terrific strategy. But I think Fox is going to continue to exist and I think it’s important that we show the Fox viewers respect by going on that network and sharing our views,” he told VICE News after the training session.
Also, no matter how much we may wish for Democrats to avoid going on Fox, that is not going to happen. The problem, though, is that as much as I'm for showing Fox viewers respect, Fox News personnel stand between the guest and the viewers and they cannot be given the same respect.
The trainees were reportedly warned about Fox dirty tricks. Trainer John Neffinger made a good point: that Fox News needs Democrats and, therefore, they have some power:
That is one of the big points Neffinger wanted to emphasize: There's an inverse to an advertiser boycott. Fox News needs Democrats to appear on air to maintain legitimacy. So Congressmen have veto power if the topic changes at the last minute or if they try to tee them up against a conservative guest of a lower stature. In short, it’s OK to back out.
However, once Democratic lawmakers are on the air, would they be willing to challenge Fox's anti-Democratic tactics and agenda? I hope that was part of the training.
Then there are the tactics Fox uses that a Democratic guest can’t address on the air. The post-appearance weaponization, for example. Or the way Fox News promoted a Donald Trump rally on the screen during Sen, Amy Klobuchar’s town hall. Fox also interrupted her town hall to play a deceptively flattering video about Trump. Klobuchar let that go by mostly unremarked. But if Democrats refuse to appear on the network unless Fox cuts out those sorts of tricks - well, that might work.
In short, I'm not sure what Democratic "winning" looks like on Fox News. But I hope the lawmakers can accomplish their objectives, whatever they may be. One thing is certain: I'll be watching and rooting for them.
Watch McIntosh discuss why she thinks candidates should go on Fox below, from the May 12, 2019 Reliable Sources.