After all of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates had avoided appearing at town hall events on Fox News Channel, Senator Bernie Sanders participated in just such a town hall Thursday, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
The result was not only that Sanders was thought by most to have held his own under questioning from two Fox News anchors, but the event was a ratings bonanza, the highest-rated town hall on any network so far in the 2020 election cycle. And now, other Democrats appear to be rethinking their opposition to appearing on the network.
According to The Daily Beast, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is “in talks” to participate in such a town hall, and had been even before the Sanders event. Rep. Eric Swalwell, who recently announced that he’s running for president, is also interested in a Fox event, as are Rep. Tim Ryan and former HUD Secretary Julian Castro. In a speech in Colorado Tuesday night, Sen. Elizabeth Warren said that she would talk to her staff about the possibility of doing a Fox town hall, reporter Justin Wingerter said on Twitter.
The Democratic National Committee announced earlier this year that it will not allow Fox News Channel to host a presidential debate, citing in part Fox News’ close relationship with the Trump Administration, as reported in a recent story in The New Yorker.
President Trump tweeted multiple times Tuesday about the Sanders event.
“So weird to watch Crazy Bernie on
@FoxNews,” the president said in the morning. He went on to accuse moderator Bret Baier of being “smiley” and the audience of being too friendly to Sanders. In a later tweet, the president pointed at the pro-Trump protestors that could be seen outside of the venue during the event, and cited supposed “big complaints about not being let in.” The president also claimed credit for the revitalization of Bethlehem, the town where the event was held.
Bernie Sanders' town hall on Fox was the highest rated of the 2020 cycle so far. https://t.co/sv51EqI9eg
— Gideon Resnick (@GideonResnick) April 16, 2019
In another tweet, Trump said that Sanders, who had released a decade of his tax returns shortly before the event and showed high income in those years, “should pay the Pre-Trump Taxes” on his income.
In the tweets, Trump appeared to be criticizing Fox News. While the administration and the network have been close throughout his presidency, Trump feuded with Fox for a time during the 2016 campaign, after he was aggressively questioned in a Fox-hosted debate by then-Fox News host Megyn Kelly. He went on to skip a subsequent Fox debate.