Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez isn't reconsidering his decision to ban Fox News from conducting Democratic primary debates, leading Fox host Bill Hemmer to urge him to reconsider Monday and not conflate the network's straight journalists with its conservative pundits.
Perez announced last month he had excluded Fox from hosting any debates, following a New Yorker article that he claimed proved Fox was "propaganda" for Donald Trump's White House. Some details of the report were disputed, such as one nugget that a Fox editor had "buried" a story in 2016 about Trump having an affair with Stormy Daniels for political reasons rather than journalistic ones.
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"Will you reconsider your decision on having debates here on the Fox News Channel?" Hemmer asked.
"Bill, here's why we won't do that," Perez said. "I don't have faith in your leadership at Fox News at the senior levels. I have great respect for Bret [Baier] and for Chris [Wallace] and for you, but you've demonstrated that above your pay grade, they don't trust your own listeners, and so they feel they have to put the thumb on the scale."
Asked who he was referring to, Perez repeated the "senior leadership" at Fox.
"They have pierced that line between editorial and your Sean Hannity shows," Perez said. "If they want to do that, that's fine."
Hemmer retorted there is a "line" between his program at 9 A.M. and the Fox primetime shows that focus on conservative commentary. Wallace, the longtime host of Fox News Sunday, won high praise for his conducting of the third presidential debate in 2016 between Trump and Hillary Clinton.
"It's like reading a newspaper, Tom," Hemmer said. "It's been the same way for a long time. I really hope you come back, and I really hope you reconsider. We'll give you a fair shake."
"Bill, I hope you have a good conversation with the people at the top to say, ‘don't do that,'" Perez said.
While Fox's morning show Fox & Friends has a clear conservative lean, its daytime programming is generally straight news until its trio of conservative opinion hosts beginning with Tucker Carlson at 8 P.M. ET, followed by Hannity and Laura Ingraham.
Hannity and Ingraham are close with Trump, but they would not conduct a presidential debate.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) will appear on Fox News for a town hall Monday night hosted by Baier and Martha MacCallum, who host Special Report and The Story, respectively. While Fox is the favorite channel of Republican-leaning cable news watchers, it's also the No. 1 cable news network overall and counts Democrats and independents among its viewers. A 2018 poll showed 41 percent of its viewers described themselves as Democrats or independents.