Morning Joe: Tom Perez Is 'So Far Off the Mark' in Banning Fox News From Hosting Debate

April 17, 2019

MSNBC's Morning Joe panel slammed Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez for his decision to ban Fox News from hosting one of the Democratic primary debates, saying he was "so far off the mark" with his strategy.

Co-host Willie Geist was discussing Sen. Bernie Sanders's (I., Vt.) Fox News town hall from Monday when he mentioned at least three other Democratic presidential candidates are reportedly open to doing a town hall on the news network, including South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

MSNBC guest Elise Jordan said she believes it's "great" for Democrats to go on Fox News, but said she understands why there's a trepidation, referencing Jane Mayer's report on the "revolving door between Fox News and the White House," noting candidates may fear it won't be a level playing field. Co-host Mika Brzezinski pushed back and said one of the ways to level the playing field is "to show up."

"If you have good voices going in there and expressing their points of view in an effective way, someone like Mayor Pete might be able to pull this off beautifully. I think Bernie Sanders did great...He was likable," Brzezinski said. "He said that the audience really wanted to hear and Fox did a good job having a diverse audience in there. That's called TV news. That's called covering a campaign and giving all the candidates equal air time."

Frequent Morning Joe guest Mike Barnicle said he likes Perez, but said he's "so far off the mark" on banning Fox News from the debate schedule. Earlier this week, Perez told Fox News host Bill Hemmer he doesn't "have faith" in the leadership at the network.

"You're running for president of the United States. Isn't one of the basic ideas to reach as many as Americans as possible? This is one way to reach as many Americans as possible," Barnicle said.

"And bring people together," Brzezinski said.

Later in the segment, Brzezinski praised Fox News hosts Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum, calling them "great."

"To the larger point that we're talking about Fox News versus the Democratic Party, as odd as that sounds, if you're afraid of Tucker Carlson, how are you going to become president of the United States? Go onto Fox News. Reach as many people as you can," Barnicle said. "Show them just because you have a 'D' after your name that you're not ridiculously, ludicrously far-left, socialist, or whatever, that you speak of the commonsense needs and problems and attitudes of most Americans."

Back in February, Daily Kos delivered a petition to the DNC with over 100,000 signatures urging them not to let Fox News host a debate, the Daily Beast reported.

"The DNC is giving Fox News and the conservative movement a giant credibility boost by even considering granting them a debate," Markos Moulitsas, the founder of the liberal Daily Kos blog told the Daily Beast. "At a time when activists have worked so hard to convince advertisers to abandon that den of racism, bigotry and misogyny, here comes Tom Perez like a jackass undermining all that work."

Moulitsas told MSNBC's Chuck Todd on Tuesday he believes Democrats, specifically Buttigieg, aren't "acting like a team player" if they do town halls on Fox News.