Buttigieg on Trump: "It is the nature of grotesque things that you can't look away." pic.twitter.com/OUiBF9DOxM
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) May 19, 2019
This is, objectively, a great clip for Pete Buttigieg! And when he’s the Democratic candidate (probably not this year, IMO, but in 2024 or 2028) it’ll get replayed as much as Barack Obama’s 2004 keynote DNC speech got replayed during his campaign.
This year, Buttigieg is still a ‘niche’ candidate in the primaries — he needs to introduce himself to as many potential swing voters as possible, and if he can do it with ‘earned’ (i.e., free) media, so much the better. And since he’s got the right visual markers for a Fox-News-viewer-approved presidential candidate (male, white, attractive in a properly ‘Heartland’ way), social marketeers would say he could only improve his status in the current Democratic primary scrum by literally showing himself off to the crucial low-info all-American voter.
Elizabeth Warren, by choosing to refuse a Fox townhall, made the right decision for Elizabeth Warren… and for the good of the Democratic Party as a whole (not to mention, IMO, the American polity in general). Fox News has been establishing their (insanely bigoted & sexist) version of Elizabeth Warren in its viewers’ tiny minds since 2012; nothing she could say or do on a Fox platform would improve that for the better. If she’s not in the Oval Office or the new Cabinet come 2021, she’ll be (happily) continuing her good work as Ted Kennedy’s successor, the first Lioness of the Senate. She can ‘afford’ to give Fox the back of her hand, for the greater good.
(And Kamala Harris, wisely understanding that Fox viewers have been primed to attack *any* Democratic woman like mobbing grackles, did the smart thing in following Warren’s refusal. Harris also has both a larger natural Democrat constituency and a broader national media presence than Buttigieg — more to lose, less to gain.)
Pete Buttigieg, certified smart guy / polician, also must have calculated in advance that Fox News would find something in his hour-long town hall that they could hack into ongoing Attacking America!!! and Our Sacred Values!!! performance-tantrums between now and November 2020 (if not longer). Presumably he and his advisors decided that the potential negatives outweighed the positives… and, truthfully, if ‘trying to erase our country’s history’ is the best Fox can do, he might be right:
Fox & Friends uses Pete Buttigieg's Fox News town hall to accuse him of "going after our Founding Fathers" and "trying to erase our country's history." pic.twitter.com/u52Ri4scLk
— Bobby Lewis (@revrrlewis) May 20, 2019
Greg Sargent, in the Washington Post, is harsher:
… The rationale behind Buttigieg’s candidacy is that he holds the magic key to unlocking the conundrum of blue-collar whites who bolted to Trump, because he never gave up on the industrial Midwest…
One can and should argue for speaking to all voters without adding the notion that other unnamed Democrats don’t actually try to do this. And if Buttigieg is indeed better at reaching these voters, he needs to show us that this is the case — even better, show us that his policies will do this — rather than constantly telling us it is the case.
Indeed, this narrative detracts from the genuinely good aspects of what Buttigieg is trying to accomplish here…
But Eric Wemple seems intrigued, though not necessarily by Buttigieg himself — “Fox News’s Chris Wallace declines to defend colleagues against attack by Pete Buttigieg”
The debate, of course, will not end after last night…
Why they can't get this calculation right, I dunno. You go on and help a network in some trouble, so in the long term they can harm everything you believe in. In the short term, you get 1 good hr followed by 10K hrs of attacks after. What ya think ppl are gonna remember?? https://t.co/PRSW4U9flh
— Cliff Schecter (@cliffschecter) May 20, 2019
If you must appear on Fox News, then calling out Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham *by name* while doing so is exactly how to do it.pic.twitter.com/C5E3NEouCZ
— Brian Tyler Cohen (@briantylercohen) May 20, 2019