"A Fox News town hall adds money to the hate-for-profit machine," Warren wrote on Twitter. "To which I say: hard pass"

By Rachel DeSantis
May 14, 2019 03:45 PM
Sen. Elizabeth Warren
| Credit: CQ Roll Call via AP Images

Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Tuesday emphatically declined a town hall invitation from Fox News in a string of tweets that ripped the network as “a hate-for-profit racket that gives a megaphone to racists and conspiracists.”

The Massachusetts politician, who is running for president, kicked off her Twitter thread by explaining that while she loves town halls and has participated in dozens of them since January, she’d be giving Fox News a “hard pass.”

The network, she wrote, is “designed to turn us against each other, risking life and death consequences, to provide cover for the corruption that’s rotting our government and hollowing out our middle class.”

A spokeswoman for Fox News did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

Warren argued that Fox News had ulterior motives in bringing her on: Hosting a Democratic town hall would be the network’s way of trying to prove itself a “safe” space for potential advertisers who might otherwise be hesitant to be around polemical commentators.

In defense, the network says it draws a bright line between its mainstream news content, from journalists such as Brett Baier and Chris Wallace, and its conservative opinion content from Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and others.

The latter group has repeatedly weathered controversies and calls for advertiser boycotts. Host Jeanine Pirro was briefly suspended earlier this year after questioning whether a Muslim lawmaker had anti-American beliefs because of her religion.

“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. It’s all about dragging in ad money – big ad money,” Warren tweeted on Tuesday.

“But,” she added, “Fox News is struggling as more and more advertisers pull out of their hate-filled space. A Democratic town hall gives the Fox News sales team a way to tell potential sponsors it’s safe to buy ads on Fox – no harm to their brand or reputation (spoiler: It’s not).”

The network has seen various companies pull ads from controversial shows, such as Pirro’s Justice with Judge Jeanine, which lost at least four corporate advertisers in March after her comments about Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Warren, who announced her 2020 campaign in December, said she would not force Democratic primary voters to have to watch Fox News to see her, which could in turn hand them a profit by boosting ratings.

“Here’s one place we can fight back: I won’t ask millions of Democratic primary voters to tune into an outlet that profits from racism and hate in order to see our candidates – especially when Fox will make even more money adding our valuable audience to their ratings numbers,” she wrote.

Warren concluded her Twitter thread with a summary of the hundreds of interviews and town halls she’s already done, and invited Fox News to cover her events “just like any other outlet.”

“But a Fox News town hall adds money to the hate-for-profit machine. To which I say: hard pass,” she wrote.

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The Democratic National Committee previously criticized the channel in March by refusing to allow it to host any 2020 presidential primary debates due to the network’s allegedly “inappropriate relationship” with President Donald Trump and his administration.

In response Fox News’ Washington, D.C., bureau chief reportedly said: “We hope the D.N.C. will reconsider its decision to bar Chris Wallace, Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum, all of whom embody the ultimate journalistic integrity and professionalism, from moderating a Democratic presidential debate. They offer candidates an important opportunity to make their case to the largest TV news audience in America, which includes many persuadable voters.”

Unlike Warren, other 2020 Democratic candidates have taken the network up on town hall offers, including Sen. Bernie Sanders, who participated in April, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who did one last week.

South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg is set to appear in a Fox News town hall moderated by Wallace on Sunday.