Fox News has been hosting Democratic presidential candidates willing to appear on the network. It has staged “town halls” for Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders, and Amy Klobuchar, and has scheduled one for Kirsten Gillibrand.

President Trump seems unhappy about this. Before the Fox News event with Buttigieg, he tweeted:

Hard to believe that @Fox News 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 Democrats.

In response, Brit Hume tweeted, “[C]overing candidates of both parties is part of the job of a news channel.” Of course it is.

Trump’s tweet displays his authoritarian side. He wants Fox News to be his exclusive preserve. For him, anything but Sean Hannity, etc. presenting Trumpian talking points is a waste of airtime. Those who like robust democracy won’t share this view.

Some conservatives are unhappy that Buttigieg used some of his airtime to rip Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham. Brian Kilmeade of Fox & Friends instructed the mayor: “Don’t hop on our channel and continue to put down the other hosts on the channel. . .”

Buttigieg’s attacks on Carlson and Ingraham are wrongheaded, in my view. However, there’s nothing wrong with a candidate appearing on Fox and criticizing some of its commentators or even the network itself.

Garden party etiquette shouldn’t apply to appearances on news channels. Candidates who “hop on” Fox shouldn’t pull any punches. They should say exactly what they think. Carlson and Ingraham can probably take it.

Fox News is performing a service for its viewers and our democracy by bringing Democrats on the network to state their views. Trump doesn’t like it, but those with a better appreciation of democracy and the role journalists can play in its furtherance should.

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