A friend emails to say that he’s not happy with the DNC’s decision not to allow Fox to host a Democratic primary debate:
I mean I get it….It is very much state TV for the right….It is simply the most powerful communications tool that Republicans have (by orders of magnitude) and dwarfs whatever the Democrats have.
All that said, it’s all the Democrats have to speak directly to that population that gets almost all of their news from Fox. Granted, it’s small in number, but extremely politically powerful due to their geographic location. Yes it’s unfair and asymmetrical but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s what exists. It smacks a bit of the old DNC view of Fox’s base as hopeless, which helped convince them that local, state, and lower-office efforts were not as important as Congressional, and most importantly, presidential office. I’m not sure you can overstate how destructive to the party this view was — and is, to the extent it continues.
This is not a hot-button issue for me. I don’t really care who hosts the Democratic debates. However, I’m skeptical that there’s any value in speaking to the population “that gets almost all of their news from Fox.” These folks strike me as the absolute core of Trump’s base, completely unreachable to any of the Democrats. Or, if you think that’s going a little too far, I’d at least say that they’re unreachable via a primary debate held nearly a year before the general election.
However, there’s still value in having Fox host a debate: it prepares the candidates for tougher questions. That’s especially important this year, when there are so many newbie candidates who have never run for president before or participated in a presidential debate. They need all the prep they can get, and a Fox News debate early in the primary season might help toughen them up.