|The nation’s top Democrats are suddenly rushing to appear on the Fox News Channel, which they once had shunned as enemy territory as the nemesis of liberal bloggers.|
The detente with Fox has provoked a backlash from progressive bloggers, who contend the party’s leaders are turning their backs on the base — and lending credibility and legitimacy to the network liberals love to hate — in a quest for a few swing votes. In a span of eight days, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY.) and Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean are all taking their seats with the network that calls itself “fair and balanced” but is widely viewed as skewing conservative.
With the party’s presidential contest reduced to hand-to-hand combat, Democrats are turning to the ratings leader among cable news channels in a clear rebuff to the liberal activists known as the Netroots. Markos Moulitsas, founder of the leading liberal site Daily Kos, told Politico’s Michael Calderone: "Democrats are being idiotic by going on that network.”
Ari Melber, the Net movement correspondent for The Nation, told Politico by phone that progressive activists and the Netroots are “not happy about it.”
“I don’t think that it is tenable to completely neglect or ignore what your base wants,” Melber said.
|All of a sudden, the once-frosty relationship between Fox News and the Democratic candidates seems to have grown warmer. Mrs. Clinton and Barack Obama, who steadfastly refused to attend Fox-sponsored debates last year, are now giving plenty of interviews as they court Fox’s viewers, who are largely white, conservative and undecided.|
“It’s probably true that we appeal to white working-class voters,” said Brit Hume, the network’s Washington managing editor and the host of “Special Report.” “The candidates are going where the voters are.”
Conversely, Fox seems to have softened its stance toward the Democrats, mindful of the intense viewer interest in the prolonged primary season. Although Fox News remains firmly in first place among news channels, CNN has crept up in the ratings on primary nights. So Fox wants to appeal to people who might otherwise flip the channel in search of more time with the Democrats.
In short, Fox News and the Democrats abruptly find each other useful.
|Last year at this time, liberal activists pressured Democrats to stay off the news channel, which they termed a "Republican mouthpiece," successfully scuttling plans for two Fox-hosted debates. Obama and Clinton, wary of offending the party's base, largely steered clear of Fox News interviews.|
These days, the candidates are not so standoffish.
"Fox has given Hillary Clinton better coverage than all the other cables," Clinton campaign Chairman Terry McAuliffe said during a radio interview last week with Fox News' John Gibson.
In recent months, both Democratic contenders have stepped up their appearances on the channel. In the first four months of 2008, Clinton did 10 interviews on Fox News, compared with just three in 2007. Obama has done eight interviews this year after appearing only twice last year.
"Both senators are very smart people," said John Moody, the channel's executive vice president of news editorial. "They're locked in a very tight battle, and they're realizing that coming on Fox News is a way to get themselves exposed to the greatest number of people who watch cable news."