Fox News Democrats Fire Back at Trump's "Tiresome" Criticism of Network

Juan Williams-Donna Brazile-Getty-Split-H 2019
Roy Rochlin/Getty Images; Rich Fury/FilmMagic

"I think the president has no capacity for even the mildest of criticism," says Chris Hahn, a progressive radio host who appears regularly on the network.

President Donald Trump does not want Democrats to appear on the Fox News Channel. That much is certain.

In the last few months, and again over the last few days, the president has railed against the network's decision to employ two prominent Democrats, political analyst Juan Williams and former Democratic National Committee chairwoman Donna Brazile.

"Fox is a lot different than it used to be, I can tell you that," Trump told reporters on Sunday. "Juan Williams. Then they have the wonderful woman that gave Hillary Clinton the questions. That was a terrible thing. And, all of a sudden, she's working for Fox. What's she doing working for Fox? Fox has changed. And my worst polls have always been from Fox. There's something going on at Fox, I'll tell you right now. And I'm not happy with it."

Democrats who appear on Fox News as guests think the president has unfairly targeted them and does not understand the value they provide to the network. Chris Hahn, a progressive radio host who appears regularly on the network, thinks the president attacks so-called Fox News Democrats because he "has no capacity for even the mildest of criticisms.”

Hahn tells The Hollywood Reporter, "Both Juan Williams and Donna Brazile offer mild critiques and will even compliment the president when they agree with him. His desire to constantly slap back at all who offer opposing views is growing tiresome."

Michael Starr Hopkins, who has appeared on Fox News as a Democratic strategist since 2017, sees a shift in Trump's attacks on the Fox News Democrats who are called on to rebut conservative opinionators. "I think he sees the writing on the wall," he says. "More reporters and anchors are pushing back against him on air. More Democrats feel comfortable going on Fox right now, because the fever is breaking."

While Williams has worked for Fox for more than two decades, signing a new contract after his termination by NPR in 2010, the network's decision to bring on Brazile in March was particularly upsetting to the president.

"Impossible to believe that @FoxNews has hired @donnabrazile, the person fired by @CNN (after they tried to hide the bad facts, & failed) for giving Crooked Hillary Clinton the questions to a debate, something unimaginable," he tweeted in July. "Now she is all over Fox, including Shep Smith, by far their lowest rated show."

Brazile, asked by THR recently how her time on the channel has gone, gave a positive review. "My experience is going very well," she said in an email. "Enjoying the diversity of shows that I have been on. Lots of time on 2020 Dems and the journey ahead."

In line with how the network has handled Trump's attacks on key personalities, Fox News has not responded to the criticisms leveled against Williams and Brazile.

Their colleagues have spoken up, however. "@TheJuanWilliams is one of the nicest guys I’ve ever known," senior political analyst Brit Hume said on Monday. "We disagree about almost everything and have been arguing on the air for decades. But we have always been friends." 

Jedediah Bila, who co-hosts Fox & Friends Weekend, criticized the president's attacks on Williams and echoed the network's thinking in having him on. "We disagree on politics quite a bit (& I love those debates!), but he’s never been nasty around me," she wrote. "His job is to give his opinion & I’m greatly appreciative for our debates." (Anchor Bret Baier responded on-air on Monday, saying that "Fox News has not changed.")

Defending the political left on Fox News — particularly on the network's high-rated opinion shows — is not always an easy job. "It’s a tough position to be in," says Hopkins, who now works for a presidential campaign. "You draw the ire of most Democrats for even engaging with Fox, but also get hate mail from a lot of Republican viewers for espousing Democratic viewpoints. Democrats have to make their case to Fox viewers, but you don’t win any points for going into the lion's den."

Hahn is concerned that Trump's rhetorical attacks could put fellow Democrats who appear on Fox News at risk. "Thankfully it’s only been of Twitter trolls so far," he says. "I pray it stays that way."