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 Swalwell2020 Dems say they will visit Homestead facility holding migrant children Warren visits migrant care shelter, says children being marched 'like little prisoners' Where 2020 Democrats stand in betting markets ahead of first debate 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 Sanders2020 Democrats spar over socialism ahead of first debate 'Teflon Don' avoids the scorn of the 'family values' GOP — again Don't expect Trump-sized ratings for Democratic debates 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 BookerBooker calls for hearings on reports of ICE using solitary confinement Poll: Biden leads Democratic field by 6 points, Warren in second place The Hill's 12:30 Report: Anticipation high ahead of first debate MORE (D-N.J.) are reportedly in talks with the network to hold town halls, and Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandWarren visits migrant care shelter, says children being marched 'like little prisoners' Where 2020 Democrats stand in betting markets ahead of first debate GOP lays debate trap for 2020 Democrats MORE (D-N.Y.) said this week should would not rule one out.

South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegPoll: Biden leads Democratic field by 6 points, Warren in second place 2020 Dems say they will visit Homestead facility holding migrant children Warren visits migrant care shelter, says children being marched 'like little prisoners' MORE (D) will appear at a town hall on the network Sunday night, and Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharPelosi: Congress will receive election security briefing in July 2020 Dems say they will visit Homestead facility holding migrant children The Hill's 12:30 Report: Anticipation high ahead of first debate MORE (D-Minn.) will appear on “Fox News Sunday.”

Besides the town halls, Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Anticipation high ahead of first debate Where 2020 Democrats stand in betting markets ahead of first debate 150 young activists to camp out at DNC for climate debate MORE (D), Swalwell and Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardPoll: Biden leads Democratic field by 6 points, Warren in second place The Hill's 12:30 Report: Anticipation high ahead of first debate Where 2020 Democrats stand in betting markets ahead of first debate 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 WarrenDon't expect Trump-sized ratings for Democratic debates Poll: Biden leads Democratic field by 6 points, Warren in second place Senate Health Committee advances bipartisan package to lower health costs 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 HarrisPoll: Biden leads Democratic field by 6 points, Warren in second place 2020 Dems say they will visit Homestead facility holding migrant children Warren visits migrant care shelter, says children being marched 'like little prisoners' MORE (D-Calif.) also reportedly has no plans to appear on a Fox News town hall.