The big noise out of the 2020 campaign on Tuesday was Senator Professor Warren's declining an invitation to participate in a Fox News Town Hall. The big news, as SPW explained on the electric Twitter machine, was why she did it.
Fox News is a hate-for-profit racket that gives a megaphone to racists and conspiracists—it’s 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...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...
But 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).
This is exactly right. FNC is a money-making enterprise, first, last, and always. The elite media's normalizing FNC as a legitimate news source was the dry run for normalizing the current president*. Nothing in SPW's explanation insults the people who imbibe this stuff, night after night. (That's our job, dammit.)
And the shrewdest thing of all is that SPW ran this play after an exceptionally well-received tour of West Virginia and rural Ohio, in which she walked into rooms full of the people whose concerns FNC allegedly addresses and took every question and every selfie. From Politico:
The 63-year-old fire chief, Wilburn “Tommy” Preece, warned Warren and her team beforehand that the area was “Trump country” and to not necessarily expect a friendly reception. But he also told her that the town would welcome anyone, of any party, who wanted to address the opioid crisis. Preece was the first responder to a reported overdose two years ago only to discover that the victim was his younger brother Timmy, who died. Preece said after the event that he voted for Trump and that the president has revitalized the area economically. But he gave Warren props for showing up. “She done good,” he said. Others agreed.
LeeAnn Blankenship, a 38-year-old coach and supervisor at a home visitation company who grew up in Kermit and wore a sharp pink suit, said she may now support Warren in 2020 after voting for Trump in 2016. “She’s a good ol’ country girl like anyone else,” she said of Warren, who grew up in Oklahoma. “She’s earned where she is, it wasn’t given to her. I respect that.”
A quote like that is what Warren's people would wish for if they found Aladdin's lamp on a shelf at the Piggly Wiggly.
So she didn't take this stand until she'd already gone deep into the FNC's target demographic and met its members face to face. This was very shrewd. It immunized her and her campaign against charges that she is somehow a'skeered of facing a FNC audience. (Not that people aren't slinging that one around anyway.) And, once that was accomplished, she was free to throw as much fire as she wanted back at the propaganda network, and "hate-for-profit" is a label that can stick.
Moreover, her contention that she's declining to help the huge news and entertainment conglomerate behind the FNC make more money is consonant with the general theme of her campaign: taking power back from corporations that misbehave. There is no telling where her campaign will end up but, up to now, she hasn't made a single mistake.
Charles P Pierce is the author of four books, mostly recently Idiot America, and has been a working journalist since 1976.