Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan has come out in defense of DNC chief Tom Perez’s decision to not allow Fox News to host any of the Democratic presidential primary debates, calling the network “propaganda” and a “plague” on the United States.
“Everyone ought to see it for what it is: Not a normal news organization with inevitable screw-ups, flaws and commercial interests, which sometimes fail to serve the public interest,” Sullivan said in a Post column Thursday morning. “But a shameless propaganda outfit, which makes billions of dollars a year as it chips away at the core democratic values we ought to hold dear: truth, accountability and the rule of law.”
“Fox News has become an American plague,” Sullivan added, concluding the piece.
Sullivan also argued that while the channel did have some upstanding journalists like Chris Wallace and Bret Baier, the broader aim of the network was to serve as a disinformation machine and should not be legitimized as a news organization worthy of hosting a debate.
“For mainstream journalists to suggest that there be no consequences or even recognition is willfully blind — and smacks of an unseemly inside-the-Beltway solidarity,” she continued. “Fox News shouldn’t be treated as an honest broker of political news. It was not censorship as some bizarrely claimed, merely a decision not to enter into a business relationship.”
Fox News declined to comment on the Sullivan criticism.
The DNC decision to yank Fox from consideration came after a lengthy New Yorker piece broadly summarizing the close ties between the network and the Trump White House.
“Recent reporting in the New Yorker on the inappropriate relationship between President Trump, his administration and Fox News has led me to conclude that the network is not in a position to host a fair and neutral debate for our candidates,” DNC chief Perez said in a statement. “Therefore, Fox News will not serve as a media partner for the 2020 Democratic primary debates.”
The decision, however, did come in for a lot of heat online — including from many professional journalists.
“There are plenty of quality journalists at Fox, some of whom have been excellent questioners at past presidential debates. And really, if you can’t answer questions — especially if they’re not the questions you want asked — maybe you don’t have good answers,” NBC News’ Jonathan Allen said in a tweet.
Politico senior media columnist Jack Shafer also dismissed the decision, in a piece titled “If You’re Afraid of Shep Smith, You Probably Shouldn’t Be President.”
“The party’s avoidance of the network reveals a shameful political gutlessness, especially considering that Fox intended to assign tame newsers Bret Baier and Chris Wallace to the debate, not feral opinionators Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity,” Shafer wrote. “Any politician who can’t hold his own against a journalist from the other team should be disqualified from running.”