Swalwell says he would ‘absolutely’ do a Fox News town hall

Greg Nash

Presidential hopeful Rep. Eric Swalwell (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.”

{mosads}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 Perez 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 Sanders (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 Booker (D-N.J.) are reportedly in talks with the network to hold town halls, and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said this week should would not rule one out.

South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D) will appear at a town hall on the network Sunday night, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) will appear on “Fox News Sunday.”

Besides the town halls, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D), Swalwell and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) have all recently been interviewed on the network.

However, some Democrats are still keeping their distance from Fox News. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (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 Harris (D-Calif.) also reportedly has no plans to appear on a Fox News town hall.

Tags Amy Klobuchar Bernie Sanders Cory Booker Elizabeth Warren Eric Swalwell Fox News Jay Inslee Kirsten Gillibrand Pete Buttigieg Tom Perez Tulsi Gabbard

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