More Fox News reporters and commentators are speaking out against the Democratic National Committee’s decision last week to bar the network from hosting its presidential primary debates.
Fox News political analyst Juan Williams on Sunday criticized the DNC’s snub of the network — which came in a statement citing critical reporting from The New Yorker — and balked at the claims that the network’s reporters and personalities have to toe the line of the Trump administration.
“I’m a Democrat and I’ve worked at Fox for 23 years,” Williams said during an appearance on “Fox News Sunday.” “Nobody tells me what to say here.”
He added: “I think it’s very important that Democrats penetrate the bubble, if you will, on the right and speak truth as well as it can be spoken.”
While Williams admitted that the DNC doesn’t like “strident pro-Trump voices in the primetime hour” – in reference to personalities like Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson – he pointed out that the channel’s debates would be moderated by the network’s news anchors and journalists such as Chris Wallace, Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum.
For his part, Wallace – who has co-moderated debates on Fox News – blamed the DNC’s choice on what he called “Fox derangement syndrome.”
“You know how we talk about ‘Trump derangement syndrome,’ or [a similar obsession with former President] Obama? I think that, in the left wing of the Democratic Party, there is ‘Fox derangement syndrome,’” Wallace said on Fox News Radio.
Wallace added: “And even though they know that Martha MacCallum and Bret Baier and I would give a fair debate, the idea of anything with Fox News presents the Democratic debate and they were just looking for an excuse and the New Yorker article gave it to them.”
Wallace’s performance as moderator of a debate between candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election season earned widespread praise from news agencies as varied as CNN and Politico to Poynter and Fortune, with the last of these saying he “orchestrated the year’s most balanced debate.”
DNC Chairman Tom Perez has said it’s important for Democrats to expand the electorate and reach all voters, and that was why he had considered Fox News. The Democrats have announced 12 debates for later this year; NBC News and CNN are set to broadcast the first two.
Fox News said it hoped the DNC would reconsider its decision to host a debate that would be moderated by Wallace, Baier and MacCallum.
“They’re the best debate team in the business and they offer candidates an important opportunity to make their case to the largest TV news audience in America, which includes many persuadable voters,” said Bill Sammon, senior vice president and managing editor of Fox News’ Washington bureau.
Baier, of “Special Report,” tweeted that the decision was “really a shame.”
Fox News’ Brian Flood and The Associated Press contributed to this report.