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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 SwalwellGOP struggles to rein in nativism Personal security costs for anti-Trump lawmakers spiked post-riot Trump knocks CNN for 'completely false' report Gaetz was denied meeting 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 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 SandersPelosi pushes for drug pricing measure amid uncertainty from White House White House sees GOP proposal as legitimate starting point The Memo: Washington's fake debate on 'bipartisanship' 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 BookerTim Scott to deliver GOP response to Biden's speech to Congress The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Chauvin conviction puts renewed focus on police reform New signs of progress emerge on police reform MORE (D-N.J.) are reportedly in talks with the network to hold town halls, and Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandIntelligence leaders warn of threats from China, domestic terrorism Jon Stewart accuses VA of being 'an obstacle' to burn pits medical care Family policy that could appeal to the right and the left MORE (D-N.Y.) said this week should would not rule one out.

South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegBiden administration takes step toward allowing California to set its own tailpipe emissions standards Republicans unveil 8 billion infrastructure plan DOT appoints chief science officer for first time in 40 years MORE (D) will appear at a town hall on the network Sunday night, and Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharSharpton eulogizes Daunte Wright: 'Tags of racism' have expired Hawley votes against anti-Asian hate crime bill Tech companies duke it out at Senate hearing MORE (D-Minn.) will appear on “Fox News Sunday.”

Besides the town halls, Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeNew York legislature passes bill restoring voting rights to those on parole Delaware state lawmakers consider bill to allow human composting The Hill's 12:30 Report: Nearly half of U.S. adults partially or fully vaccinated MORE (D), Swalwell and Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardNew co-chairs named for congressional caucus for millennials Tulsi Gabbard blasts new House rules on gender neutral language as 'height of hypocrisy' A vaccine, a Burrito and more: 7 lighter, memorable moments from 2020 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 WarrenBiden plan would nearly double capital gains tax for wealthy: report Top general concerned about Afghan forces after US troops leave Progressives divided over efforts to repeal SALT cap 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 HarrisGOP sees immigration as path to regain power Senate confirms Gupta nomination in tight vote Earth Day 2021: New directions for US climate policy rhetoric MORE (D-Calif.) also reportedly has no plans to appear on a Fox News town hall.