Past MSM Debate Moderators Support Democrats Boycotting Fox News

On Sunday’s AM Joy on MSNBC, former ABC host Carole Simpson and CNBC editor at large John Harwood — both former presidential debate moderators — lauded the Democratic National Committee’s decision to evade holding any debates with Fox News Channel, citing the network’s right-wing tilt.

All seemed oblivious to the solidly left-leaning nature of the network they were appearing on that would make it an inhospitable place for Republicans to appear.

As the group acknowledged that there were several non-conservative Fox News anchors who would be suitable to moderate a debate with Democrats, host Joy Reid bristled at Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace for acknowledging that there is a left-wing faction that has “Fox derangement syndrome,” as he also suggested some conservatives have “Obama derangement syndrome.” After playing a clip of Wallace, Reid responded:

It strikes me that that sounds like Chris Wallace sounding like the other parts of Fox News talking about the left wing of the Democratic party. Is that part of the issue here — is that even the straight news journalists — and Chris Wallace is a fantastic interviewer — but he just sounded like Sean Hannity a little bit there?

Simpson agreed that “He did,” and then, after acknowledging Wallace’s history of being a “real news man,”  she suggested that Fox News makes it impossible for anyone who works there to be balanced: “I guess you can’t be in the atmosphere of Fox News without accepting some of its tenets. And poor Chris is probably getting some of that affecting him.” And liberal networks don’t have an “atmosphere” with ideological “tenets”? 

Simpson continued:

I agree with the DNC that they should not participate with Fox in a debate because remember, America, Fox was supposed to be fair and balanced, and it is unfair and unbalanced. And why would any Democrat go on there when they’ve made it clear the Democrats are leftist, socialist, commie pinko liberals? It is a good decision.

Harwood — who notably co-hosted a notoriously biased CNBC debate with the Republican primary candidates in 2015 — argued that there were several good potential debate moderators at Fox News, recited the Democratic perception that Fox is “an extension” of the White House, and then claimed that Fox News and Republicans have had a strategy of trying to stoke “alarm” in older whites:

I think the debate itself could be fair, because Chris Wallace, as Carole indicated, is an exceptionally good interviewer. Bret Baier is a very capable interviewer, and so is Martha McCallum. I think the issue is not what the content of the debate itself would be from the Democratic perspective. It’s that they see Fox News — as Gabe [Sherman] has reported, as Jane Mayer has reported — as in essence extension of the other party, of the White House they’re trying to defeat. And so, I think they don’t want to lend authority to that voice.  

You know, the Republican Party and Fox News have a common strategy which is to alarm and appeal to older white viewers and voters. And as that group shrinks, they — the Republican party and Fox are forced to try ever harder and harder to alarm them, which carries them further and further from a realistic discussion of the nation and its problems.

MSNBC was granted no Republican debates in the 2016 primary season, although CNBC had one. CNN had four, and Fox News and Fox Business each had two. ABC and CBS also had one. 

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