Trump attacks Fox News for inviting 2020 Democratic candidates to participate in town hall events

Trump alleged that "something very strange" was going on at Fox News during a recent campaign rally in Pennsylvania

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published May 21, 2019 3:01PM (EDT)

 (Getty/Drew Angerer)
(Getty/Drew Angerer)

President Donald Trump attacked Fox News during a campaign speech Tuesday in the wake of the town hall invitations the network sent to candidates seeking the Democratic Party's 2020 nomination.

During a rally in Montoursville, Pennsylvania, Trump began by referring to South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg as "Alfred E. Neumann," a slap at the Indiana Democrat's physical appearance that references the Mad Magazine mascot. He then asked, "What’s going on with Fox, by the way? What’s going on there?"

Trump added, "They’re putting more Democrats on than you have Republicans. Something strange is going on at Fox, folks. Something very strange."

He then rhetorically asked, "Did you see this guy last night? I did want to watch. You always have to watch the competition, if you call it that. And he was knocking the hell out of Fox. And Fox is — somebody's gonna have to explain the whole Fox deal to me."

The president then took swipes at the opposing political party by saying, "Democrats even want to give welfare and free health care to anyone who crosses our border. They want free health care, free education, free anything. Republicans believe we should take care of our own people, our citizens, first."

This was not the first time that Trump has taken swipes at Fox News for allowing Democrats to have air time on their show. On Sunday, he posted a pair of tweets complaining, "Hard to believe that @FoxNews is wasting airtime on Mayor Pete, as Chris Wallace likes to call him. Fox is moving more and more to the losing (wrong) side in covering the Dems. They got dumped from the Democrats boring debates, and they just want in. They forgot the people who got them there. Chris Wallace said, 'I actually think, whether you like his opinions or not, that Mayor Pete has a lot of substance...fascinating biography.' Gee, he never speaks well of me - I like Mike Wallace better...and Alfred E. Newman will never be President!"

Buttigieg is one of several Democratic presidential candidates to appear on a town hall on Fox News, along with Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

Trump was not alone in expressing his dismay at the Buttigieg town hall event. Brian Kilmeade, a co-host of "Fox and Friends," was also harshly critical of Buttigieg for taking shots at two of Fox's top anchors, Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham.

"Don’t hop on our channel and continue to put down the other hosts on the channel. If you feel that negative about it, don’t come," Kilmeade said, according to the New York Times. "For him to go out there and take shots on our prime-time lineup, without going on our prime-time lineup, shows to me absolutely no courage."

By contrast Brit Hume, the network's senior political analyst, defended his colleague Chris Wallace when Trump attacked him for interviewing Buttigieg.

"Say this for Buttigieg. He’s willing to be questioned by Chris Wallace, something you’ve barely done since you’ve been president," Hume wrote on Twitter.

He added, "Oh, and covering candidates of both parties is part of the job of a news channel."

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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All Salon Bernie Sanders Chris Wallace Donald Trump Fox News News & Politics Pete Buttigieg