Warren: 'Fox News Is a Hate-For-Profit Racket That Gives a Megaphone to Racists and Conspiracists'
While some 2020 Democrats have appeared in town halls on Fox News, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) drew a line in the sand against the network on Tuesday.
"I love town halls. I’ve done more than 70 since January, and I’m glad to have a television audience be a part of them. Fox News has invited me to do a town hall, but I’m turning them down—here’s why," she began in a long Twitter thread.
"Fox News is a hate-for-profit racket that gives a megaphone to racists and conspiracists—it’s designed to turn us against each other, risking life and death consequences, to provide cover for the corruption that’s rotting our government and hollowing out our middle class," Warren tweeted.
"Hate-for-profit works only if there’s profit, so Fox News balances a mix of bigotry, racism, and outright lies with enough legit journalism to make the claim to advertisers that it’s a reputable news outlet. It’s all about dragging in ad money—big ad money," she said. "But Fox News is struggling as more and more advertisers pull out of their hate-filled space. A Democratic town hall gives the Fox News sales team a way to tell potential sponsors it's safe to buy ads on Fox—no harm to their brand or reputation (spoiler: It’s not)."
Warren said she and her supporters can "fight back" against the "hate" of Fox News. "I won’t ask millions of Democratic primary voters to tune into an outlet that profits from racism and hate in order to see our candidates—especially when Fox will make even more money adding our valuable audience to their ratings numbers."
Warren then bragged about how accessible she has been throughout the campaign. "I take questions from the press and voters everywhere I go. I’ve already held town halls in 17 states and Puerto Rico—including WV, OH, GA, UT, TN, TX, CO, MS & AL. I’ve done 57 media avails and 131 interviews, taking over 1,100 questions from press just since January," she said.
"Fox News is welcome to come to my events just like any other outlet. But a Fox News town hall adds money to the hate-for-profit machine. To which I say: hard pass," Warren concluded.
Many Democratic presidential candidates have already participated in Fox News town halls, including Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.). South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) are scheduled to do so. While each of them criticized Fox News's coverage of the Trump administration, they defended going on the network as a means to reach voters.
In March, Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) argued that Democrats would be making a grievous mistake in refusing to appear on the network.
"So many women come up to me across the country and say, 'Hey, I love seeing you on Fox News,' and then whisper, 'Don’t worry, I’m not a Republican, my husband watches it and it’s the only way I can watch.' I don’t want to dismiss people like that," Swalwell said. He suggested that many Democrats watch Fox News because the owner of their establishment prefers that news channel over others. "What about the bartenders whose bar owner insists that’s what’s on in the restaurant? So you may be able to dismiss the host and president who they support but we can’t dismiss the viewers."
In rejecting a Fox News town hall, Warren demonized Fox News as a purveyor of "bigotry, racism, and outright lies" and a "hate-filled space," as well as a "hate-for-profit racket."
In fact, Warren's demonizing comments might do serious damage to her campaign. In some ways, they may echo Hillary Clinton's notorious "basket of deplorables" comment from September 2016. In those comments, Clinton said "half of Trump's supporters" are "racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic — Islamophobic — you name it."
Clinton had condemned half of Trump's supporters as "deplorable" and "irredeemable." These remarks echoed her attitude of distrust, disgust, and perhaps even hatred toward many conservative Americans, in particular, social conservatives who oppose abortion and LGBT activism.
Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook later admitted that "it definitely could have alienated some voters and that’s why she got out there right away." Clinton campaign staffer Diane Hessan interviewed undecided voters during the election. Afterward, she reported her findings in the Boston Globe. "There was one moment when I saw more undecided voters shift to Trump than any other, when it all changed, and when voters began to speak differently about their choice," she wrote. It wasn’t any of the developments of the Clinton email scandal or the Benghazi scandal. "No, the conversation shifted the most during the weekend of Sept. 9, after Clinton said, 'You can put half of Trump supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables.'"
The "basket of deplorables" line may have cost Clinton the presidency, and it seems liberals have not rejected this toxic demonizing messaging.
Now Elizabeth Warren has demonized Fox News, and by implication its massive audience. Most Fox News viewers do not think of the outlet as a "hate-for-profit racket." In fact, they support what the network stands for, the very thing Warren has demonized as "hate."
These comments will not age well.
Follow Tyler O'Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.