On Wednesday night, President Donald Trump threatened to block other television networks and cable outlets from hosting the Democratic primary debates in retaliation for the announcement by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) that Fox News would not be allowed to host any. According to a report in The Hill, Trump unleashed a tweet that seemed to imply he might unilaterally ban the other networks from hosting the debates in retaliation for DNC chairman Tom Perez’s announcement on Wednesday that the DNC would not be partnering with Fox News to host any of its intra-party debates leading up to the primary election.
“Democrats just blocked @FoxNews from holding a debate. Good, then I think I’ll do the same thing with the Fake News Networks and the Radical Left Democrats in the General Election debates,” he tweeted Wednesday night.
The DNC cited Fox News’ coziness with the White House as its reason for declining to offer them hosting duties, arguing that the network has become little more than a propaganda tool for the White House and the president. As such, Perez argued, they would be incapable of providing neutral and fair coverage of the opposing party’s primary debates.
For his part, Trump has long had a close relationship with Fox News dating back to his days as a reality show host. During the 2016 campaign, he used to call in regularly to the morning show Fox and Friends and offer his take on the news of the day.
But Trump has had a very different kind of relationship with the rest of the news networks and cable outlets, long referring to CNN and others as “fake news.” There are now serious allegations that Trump may have improperly, if not illegally, misused his power via back-channels to attempt to derail AT&T’s efforts to merge with Time-Warner, the parent company of CNN.
The DNC’s announcement that it would not be offering hosting duties to Fox News came on the heels of an explosive article published in The New Yorker detailing all the connections between the Trump White House and Fox. For example, the article’s author, Jane Mayer reported that late Fox News founder Roger Ailes gave Trump advance access to the questions that would be asked at the 2016 Republican primary debate and pointed out that former Fox executive Bill Shine is currently working as the White House communications director.
In response to the article and the DNC decision to cut Fox News out of the debates as hosts, Fox News senior VP and managing editor Bill Sammon praised his debate coverage team of Chris Wallace, Brett Baier, and Martha MacCallum, and noted that the Democrats would be missing out on reaching many potential voters.
“They’re the best debate team in the business and they offer candidates an important opportunity to make their case to the largest TV news audience in America, which includes many persuadable voters,” Sammon said.