Democrats are decidedly wary about going on Fox News. Many have had mix feelings about appearing on the network for some time. But is it a valid fear or concern? Well, it depends.
A few weeks ago, the Democratic National Committee decided that there will be no Democratic primary debates on Fox News. I understand that Fox News is not a news channel, but a propaganda arm of the Republican Party and a Donald Trump stooge. That said, it has a large viewer base that progressives must address.
Polls point out that most Americans, including a significant percentage of Republicans, want progressive values. However, because many Fox News viewers are tunneled almost exclusively in the Fox News or right-wing talk radio world, they never hear our message. We must express it in a form that reaches them.
Democrats leave too many votes on the table that should be ours. Too often we assume that because it is challenging to have a substantive conversation with many people on the Right, it is more expedient to abandon them and work on the people in our party who don’t vote. When one spends many hours in the field speaking to people, it becomes evident quickly that the nonvoter always reverts to form unless one changes their entire outlook on their potential influence on the outcome of elections. Getting a voter on the Right to consider voting their interest is no more daunting. That being the case, we must respect and address them both.
As one who lives in a very conservative suburb in Texas, I refuse just to let people many consider not bad but ill-informed to go untouched by my progressive message. I respectfully enter conversations when I hear messaging that needs correcting. I gave an example in a new diary.
During the entire conversation I was firm but not rude, nor did I raise my voice. My approach elicited similar behavior from the Republican. It was clear that no one has ever confronted him in the manner that I did. I created an environment where he deservedly was on the defensive. But most importantly, I did not allow an escalation into a shouting match. While he spoke, I listened intently, and in this case, I did not have to ask him to reciprocate the behavior. In other confrontations, I have had to ask for the same respect in listening that I afforded.
Look, I am sure I did not change this Republican's basic way of being. But I do know I planted seeds that any thinking human being, however ideologically compromised, will have firmly in their brains, whether they acknowledge it or not.
After going back and forth for about 20 minutes, we shook hands, and he thanked me. I wondered if he realized he did that. Anyway, I did not react. I gave him a back slap, we smiled, and then I took off.
The caller started the conversation saying that, unlike folks from other parties, he is happy with his. Why? He supports a big strong military, low regulation, and many other things we regularly discuss on PDR.
I started taking each one of the issues he agreed with and deconstructing them. In the case of a big strong military, I pointed out that there was nothing conservative about it. After all, they allow contractors to rob the hard-earned taxpayer money.
When he switched to regulation, it was clear that when presented from an empathetic perspective, he could not help but agree that we needed regulation.
Soon after, the Republican caller decided that after all we had more in common. I have found that respectfully talking works more often than not. You start changing minds and coexisting when all involved feel mutual respect.
Fox News as an agent of the Republican Party is more polished and capable of shenanigans for millions to see. We know they create alternate realities, using the likes of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar as weapons. However, Republicans are on the defensive. Witness Andy Barr of Kentucky cowering after Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez accepted his invitation to visit coal miners.
Bernie Sanders showed how one handles a network whose hypocrisy knows no limit. Keep its people off guard and direct the narrative.
As long as Democrats make sure all interviews are done live so at least the first airing is unedited, they are educating some of Fox’s viewers. They can refute subsequent edits with actual footage.
What Sanders did was epic. He called out Fox News’ past and present intransigence in real time. Sanders did it so much that the host eventually asked if he would continue attacking Fox. Secondly, he allowed no false equivalences. That was evident when the hosts challenged his income and taxes. He made Donald Trump the proper scapegoat. When they attempted to make switching to Medicare for all an issue, he pointed out that companies force their employees to switch every year, which is no different.
When it came to deficit spending, Bernie could not be more ready. He pointed out that Trump’s tax-cut scam has blown the budget and sent the debt into the stratosphere. Bernie made it clear that taxes will pay for Medicare for all.
Bernie never lost his cool. He was assertive, and he did not allow Fox News at any time to set the narrative. He was effective. Other Democrats must appear on Fox News and get their message across. They will find some receptive viewers.