Fox News is afraid of Donald Trump

The mockery was not long in coming. "Anyone who is afraid of Shep Smith should perhaps not be president," said Jack Shafer, the magazine's media columnist, on Thursday Politico. That wasn't very nice to Shep Smith, who is a rock solid, sensible journalist, even if he works for right-wing conservative Fox News. Most of all, it was a blow in the eye for the Democrats, who had announced the previous day that they would not host any of their twelve candidate debates from Fox News. The answer from the industry was quite unanimous: fearful rabbits!

But first things first: Americans elect their president every four years. For decades it has been customary for the Democratic and Republican candidates to duel each other beforehand in television debates organized by the major broadcasters and moderated by their most important journalists. Because the audience numbers are enormous and the parties get free television time in this way, the format was expanded. In the meantime, the party's internal pre-election debates are also being broadcast, i.e. those disputes in which the presidential candidates are involved one Party before it goes to the main election against the other party.

This pre-election campaign is particularly interesting for the Democrats at the moment. There are at least half a dozen serious applicants who are running for president and want to run against Republican Donald Trump next year. From June onwards, these applicants want to present themselves to the voters in twelve TV debates - but not all. Fox News will not be allowed to hold a debate, decided the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the party headquarters in Washington.

Now each party has the right to choose which broadcasters can host their debates. And the Democrats have been strangling with Fox News for a long time. It is actually the rule that their candidates do not debate there. And it's understandable. Fox News was founded in 1996 by Rupert Murdoch as a conservative counterpart to CNN, but many shows have now become real propaganda programs for Trump. Fox presenters like Sean Hannity, Lou Dobbs, Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham are unconditionally defending the president.

Only a few days ago the new Yorker set in one big story how close the relationship is between Fox News and Trump. In 2016, the station is said to have buried the story of Trump's hush money payments to the porn actress Stormy Daniels in order not to endanger his candidacy. The DNC named this article as the reason for rejecting Fox. That was strange, because that Fox courted Trump has not been known for the first time new Yorker wrote it.

Oh a debate! Trump wouldn't be Trump if he didn't get involved right away

At this point, however, Shep Smith comes back into play. He was one of the journalists Fox suggested to the DNC as a possible host for a candidate debate. And Smith is not one of those dogged Trump apologists who smell radical left-wing conspiracies against America everywhere. On the contrary: Smith, like the other moderators Fox had offered the Democrats, is a normal, moderately conservative journalist. The Democratic candidates would probably have received solid, if not loving, questions from him. In this respect, the commentator Jack Shafer is right: Anyone who is afraid to face Shep Smith may be unsuitable for the office of President of the USA.

Especially since the Fox boycott is also a missed political opportunity. It is true that not many Democratic party supporters who vote on their presidential candidate in the primaries watch the right-wing broadcaster. The audience that the applicants reach there is predominantly hostile to them. But appearing on Fox would have been an opportunity to show that the party takes and addresses all Americans seriously, not just those citizens who watch NBC, CNN or ABC and whom the Democrats believe share their views.

Of course, Donald Trump wouldn't be Donald Trump if he hadn't immediately joined the debate on Twitter. If the Democrats cut Fox News, he might later boycott the Fake News Networks in the pre-election debates, he announced. He means above all CNN and the left-liberal cable broadcaster MSNBC. Do you have to take it seriously? Rather not. Trump is far too much of a television professional to miss out on a free prime-time appearance broadcast nationwide for several hours.