Swalwell says he would 'absolutely' do a Fox News town hall

Swalwell says he would 'absolutely' do a Fox News town hall
© Greg Nash

Presidential hopeful Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellDe Blasio pitches himself as tough New Yorker who can take on 'Don the con' Momentum builds behind push to pass laws enshrining abortion rights Swalwell pledges to appoint Supreme Court justices who defend Roe v. Wade MORE (D-Calif.) said he would “absolutely” do a Fox News town hall but claims the network turned him down.

"I would absolutely do a Fox town hall," Swalwell told CNN Wednesday, "but they told us we can't have one which is a little bit confusing to us because they have given them to people who are polling at the same place as us."

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Swalwell said he was “frustrated” that Fox News was "bemoaning that the Democrats won't do the debates" on the network while rejecting his offer for a town hall.

“I can only conclude that they are afraid to give me the opportunity,” he said. He added that Fox News has not publicly shared the criteria it would use to determine which candidates get to appear in town halls.

Fox News pointed The Hill to a statement it gave CNN. In that statement, a spokesperson disputed Swalwell’s characterization and said the network has left the door open to have Swalwell appear in the future.

Bill Sammon, Fox's senior vice president of news, also discussed the network's approach with The Washington Post this week.  

“Our attitude has been, ‘Let’s do some town halls but be selective about it,’ ” Sammon said. “There are two dozen candidates. We’re not going to get to all of them. That’s just reality. So let’s carefully select the promising candidates and space them out a bit."

"We’re not going to put them on every night or five in one night. We’ll do it every couple or three weeks and have an impact,” he added.

However, Swalwell's campaign in a statement to The Hill pushed back on Fox News' response.

“After about three weeks of unsuccessfully trying to make contact with FOX News officials about a town hall, Swalwell for America was informed that no town hall would be scheduled with Rep. Swalwell before the first DNC debate in Miami, and that FOX News hasn't committed to doing any more town halls after that debate,” the campaign said in a statement to The Hill.

“FOX News offered no criteria for how it selected candidates with whom to hold town halls. Rep. Swalwell appeared on FOX News 38 times in 2018 and 11 times so far in 2019, and continues to get almost-daily offers to appear on FOX News' regularly scheduled programming.” 

The network has been a source of controversy after Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman Tom PerezThomas Edward PerezClinton’s top five vice presidential picks Government social programs: Triumph of hope over evidence Labor’s 'wasteful spending and mismanagement” at Workers’ Comp MORE said in March that Fox News will not be allowed to host any primary debates. 

But Democratic candidates have been making plans for town halls on the network.

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersButtigieg defends appearing on Fox News: Many Americans don't hear Dems' message Buttigieg: The future 'is personal' for me Donald Trump, president for life? We need term limits now MORE (I-Vt.) appeared on a Fox News town hall in April, an event that drew more than 2.55 million viewers and garnered positive reactions.

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro and Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerDe Blasio pitches himself as tough New Yorker who can take on 'Don the con' Sanders pledges to only nominate Supreme Court justices that support Roe v. Wade From dive bars to steakhouses: How Iowa caucus staffers blow off steam MORE (D-N.J.) are reportedly in talks with the network to hold town halls, and Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandGillibrand says she would not detain immigrants De Blasio pitches himself as tough New Yorker who can take on 'Don the con' Gillibrand: 'President Trump has started a war on American women' MORE (D-N.Y.) said this week should would not rule one out.

South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegButtigieg jokes about holding town hall same night as 'Game of Thrones' finale Buttigieg defends appearing on Fox News: Many Americans don't hear Dems' message Buttigieg on Trump tweets: 'I don't care' MORE (D) will appear at a town hall on the network Sunday night, and Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharKlobuchar: 'Don't think' there are reasons to investigate Mueller probe's origins Klobuchar: Trump plan doesn't deal with 'comprehensive immigration issue' Buttigieg condemns 'voices on Fox' for spreading 'fear' and 'lies' ahead of town hall appearance MORE (D-Minn.) will appear on “Fox News Sunday.”

Besides the town halls, Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeDe Blasio pitches himself as tough New Yorker who can take on 'Don the con' Inslee gives public option first test in Washington state Overnight Energy: Dems dismiss Interior chief's work calendars as 'fake' | Buttigieg climate plan includes carbon tax | Poll finds growing number say climate is crucial 2020 issue MORE (D), Swalwell and Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardGabbard says claim her campaign is getting boost from Putin apologists is 'fake news' Momentum builds behind push to pass laws enshrining abortion rights Poll: Biden is only Dem candidate that beats Trump outside of margin of error MORE (D-Hawaii) have all recently been interviewed on the network.

However, some Democrats are still keeping their distance from Fox News. Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenButtigieg jokes about holding town hall same night as 'Game of Thrones' finale Buttigieg defends appearing on Fox News: Many Americans don't hear Dems' message Warren offers to help Twitter user with her love life MORE (D-Mass.) torched the network, saying she wouldn’t do a town hall because it “adds money to the hate-for-profit machine.”

“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,” she said in an email to supporters.

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisButtigieg defends appearing on Fox News: Many Americans don't hear Dems' message De Blasio pitches himself as tough New Yorker who can take on 'Don the con' Buttigieg condemns 'voices on Fox' for spreading 'fear' and 'lies' ahead of town hall appearance MORE (D-Calif.) also reportedly has no plans to appear on a Fox News town hall.