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Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer was caught off guard Tuesday morning when a guest, New York Democratic politician Michael Blake, called out opinion host Tucker Carlson while answering a question about whether his party might end up nominating Michelle Obama for president.
“I think you all could see that Bill wasn’t too happy,” Blake told The Hollywood Reporter in an interview later in the day.
When asked by Hemmer to respond to Carlson’s “prediction” about Obama, Blake responded: “Well, she’s not running. But the core question is: Why the hell does Tucker Carlson still have a job here in the first place? The reality is this is someone who said white supremacy is a hoax. Why does Fox still allow him to be here in the first place?”
“We didn’t bring you on to talk about Tucker Carlson,” Hemmer responded. “I brought you on to talk about the Democratic field.” Later in the segment, he added: “Listen, I didn’t bring you on to bash our network. With all due respect, why don’t we just keep it on topic? … It’s not relevant to the conversation we’re having. Save it for later.”
Blake, who is running for Congress and serves as vice chair of the Democratic National Committee, said he appeared as a guest on Fox News “constantly” last year, but his appearance on Tuesday was his first in at least three months.
“We can’t be silent about this stuff anymore,” Blake told THR. “You can’t be surprised if you invite a national leader in the Democratic Party onto your network that I’m going to say something about Tucker Carlson when you ask me about something Tucker Carlson said. I answered the question, but I’m not going to ignore the opportunity of calling out this absurdity of not just Tucker but of the network. If you are allowing someone to be on the network who is saying this language, you are saying that ratings is more important than reality. That the harm of his words is insignificant to your profits.”
Blake said he hasn’t been castigated by the network, or by the show’s booker, since the segment aired and is hopeful to be invited back on Fox News as a guest. “I would welcome them to invite me back on the network,” he said. “It would speak a lot to Fox for them to invite me back on.”
While he was excoriated by some Fox News viewers for his comments on Twitter, Blake said the overall reaction has been “overwhelmingly positive.”
Although he is critical of Fox News’ decision to keep Carlson in the 8 p.m. slot, Blake thinks it’s important for Democrats to appear on the network and represent a more left-leaning position.
“We can’t ignore that the largest share of Americans, in particular the largest share of independents, are still watching Fox,” he said. “It would be irresponsible to ignore the platform. I want to be out there to make sure we’re countering the narrative that’s out there, and equally countering the individuals.”
Blake spoke fondly of Hemmer, who is part of the network’s division. “I think Bill’s a great reporter,” he said. “That’s one of the reasons why I’m happy to go on his show.”
In October 2018, Democratic strategist and former Hillary Clinton campaign aide Zac Petkanas told THR that he would no longer appear on Fox News as a guest, arguing that “participating in an illegitimate debate does more harm than good.”
Blake, however, is hoping that more Democrats will go on. “If they give us the opportunities for an open conversation where you’re willing to hear the truth, then I think a lot more people will gladly go on,” he said.
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