Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful, has signed on to participate in a Fox News town hall focused on jobs and the economy later this month, the network announced Wednesday.
The town hall is scheduled for April 15 in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. It is expected to be hosted by Fox News’ Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum ― two network personalities known to occasionally challenge President Donald Trump’s administration.
Last month, the Democratic National Committee announced that it wouldn’t partner with Fox News for debates during the 2020 election cycle, citing a New Yorker report that outlined the many connections between the network and the Trump White House.
Sanders’ decision to participate in the April 15 town hall highlights a schism within the Democratic Party and among its 2020 candidates. Like the DNC, some Democrats argue that attending Fox News debates or town halls would lend credibility to a network that now appears to function largely as a propaganda arm for the Trump administration.
“The network is not in a position to host a fair and neutral debate for our candidates,” DNC head Tom Perez said in his announcement last month.
Others, like Pete Buttigieg, a 2020 Democratic hopeful and mayor of South Bend, Indiana, say Democratic contenders should take advantage of Fox News’ massive platform. Fox News is the most-watched basic cable network, averaging 2.5 million primetime viewers in 2018.
“There are so many viewers who may never hear what our party has to say at all if we’re never going on [Fox News] and explaining what we believe,” Buttigieg said on ABC’s “The View” last month.
Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) has made a similar argument.
“As they say, you don’t need to persuade your friends,” Himes told CNN in March. “You need to persuade people who disagree with you.”
Bill Sammon, senior vice president and managing editor in Washington of Fox News, said he hopes more Democrats will choose to appear on the network during the 2020 campaign season.
“We hope the DNC will reconsider its decision to bar Chris Wallace, Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum, all of whom embody the ultimate journalistic integrity and professionalism, from moderating a Democratic presidential debate,” Sammon said. “They’re the best debate team in the business and they offer candidates an important opportunity to make their case to the largest TV news audience in America, which includes many persuadable voters.”
A representative for Sanders’ campaign did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.
Sanders has appeared on Fox News as a presidential contender before, participating in a Democratic primary debate against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Before the Vermont senator takes another turn on the Trump-friendly network, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who is mulling a run for president as an independent, is slated to participate in a Fox News town hall Thursday evening.
UPDATE: A statement from Fox News has been added to this story.