Monday, June 03, 2019

Gillibrand Proves Warren's Point

Elizabeth Warren was right, though it took another candidate- Kirsten Gillibrand- to prove it.  On May 14, Senator Warren defended herdecision not to bolster Fox News' bottom line and give the network cover against advertisers queasy about a far-right network in Donald Trump's pocket. She

used a series of Twitter messages to accuse the network of giving “a megaphone to racists and conspiracists” and providing cover for corruption. She also returned to one of her campaign’s central themes, framing the channel as the sort of corporate “profit machine” she has railed against.
“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,” Ms. Warren wrote. “It’s all about dragging in ad money — big ad money.”

“A Democratic town hall gives the Fox News sales team a way to tell potential sponsors it’s safe to buy ads on Fox,” she continued. “I won’t ask millions of Democratic primary voters to tune into an outlet that profits from racism and hate.”

Refusing to perform (and it is a performance) at a town hall must have been a difficult decision because nobody has failed to come out smelling like a rose in this venue since President George Herbert Walker Bush repeatedly looked at his watch while debating Bill Clinton in 1992. It's set up that way, and no politician fails to charm the audience.

So Warren's position was an outlier, for which the Massachusetts senator has faced some criticism. Yet if not earlier, it became clear what the objective of these affairs is when

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) challenged Fox News’ coverage of abortion during a town hall event on Sunday, accusing the network of peddling disinformation to the chagrin of host Chris Wallace.

Gillibrand, the latest Democratic candidate among a crowded field to appear on the network for an hourlong Q&A session, used a question about late-term abortions to pivot toward Fox News’ coverage of the issue. Just over 1% of abortions across the country are performed at 21 weeks or later, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but such procedures get outspoken criticism by groups against reproductive rights.

“What we’ve created, unfortunately, is a false choice and a false narrative. Chris, I want to talk about the role Fox News plays in this, because it’s a problem,” Gillibrand said in response to the question. “I can tell you before President Trump gave his State of the Union, Fox News talked about infanticide. Infanticide doesn’t exist.”

Wallace quickly cut the senator off, saying that the network had invited her there as a guest and had thus far been treating her “fairly.”

“I understand, maybe to make your credentials with the Democrats who are not appearing on Fox News, you are going to attack us,” Wallace said. “I’m not sure, frankly, it’s not very polite when we’ve invited you to be here.”

Gillibrand said she would address her concerns politely, and continued on.

She continued (inserting criticism of Fox News), passionately defending her position on abortion while avoiding answering the actual question asked. That was satisfactory to the Fox News host because these events aren't really about information, anyway.

We don't know Senator Gillibrand's view of late-term abortion specifically, but we do know that these "town halls" are a charade, with the intent to normalize an extreme cable "news" network among advertisers. We know that as long as Fox News can host good little boys and girls who participate in the charade by avoiding criticizing Fox News, everyone wins.

Thus far, Gillibrand, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, and Bernie Sanders have appeared, with Julian Castro due later this week and Bill deBlasio negotiating. Those who have or will show up know what the deal is. It's not necessarily with the devil, but it is in return for the inevitable applause, good optics, and favorable news coverage. However, with Warren's emphatic refusal and the decision of Kamala Harris not to participate, we're learning which candidates aren't going to play ball with Trump TV and the expectation that candidates show deference to it.

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