A week before Pete Buttigieg’s Fox News town hall, one of his fellow Democratic candidates for president made things weird for him. After the network invited her to hold a town hall of her own, Elizabeth Warren tweeted that appearing on Fox News would only add money to the “hate-for-profit” machine. “Hard pass,” she wrote.
Buttigieg, who is the second Democratic hopeful after Bernie Sanders to hold a town hall with the network, heard Warren’s criticism and addressed it Sunday. It’s important for Democrats to “find people where they are,” he said. He followed that justification with criticism of two of the network’s biggest stars.
“A lot of folks in my party were critical of me for even doing this with Fox News and I get where that’s coming from, especially when you see what’s going on with some of the opinions hosts on this network,” he said. “I mean when you’ve got Tucker Carlson saying that immigrants make America dirty. When you’ve got Laura Ingraham comparing detention centers with children in cages to summer camps.”
“Then there is a reason why anybody has to swallow hard and think twice before participating in this media ecosystem,” he said. “Even though some of these hosts are not always there in good faith, I think a lot of people tune into this network in good faith.”
Buttigieg made a similar point in an email to supporters on Saturday. “If we ignore the viewers of Fox News and every news platform that doesn’t share our worldview, we will surrender our ability to speak directly to millions of American voters,” he wrote an email with the subject line, “Why I’m going on Fox News.”
One person who would have preferred that Buttigieg not go on Fox News? President Trump, who tweeted prior to the Sunday broadcast that the network should not even cover Democrats.
“Hard to believe that @FoxNews is wasting airtime on Mayor Pete, as Chris Wallace likes to call him. Fox is moving more and more to the losing (wrong) side in covering the Dems,” Trump wrote. “They got dumped from the Democrats boring debates, and they just want in. They forgot the people who got them there.”
Asked by Wallace what how he would deal with Trump’s insults and tweets, like the one sent hours before the town hall, Buttigieg said, “The tweets are—I don’t care.” The crowd went wild.