Fox News Dismisses Huge Town Hall Participation As Paid Liberal Organizing

Fox News Dismisses Huge Town Hall Participation As Paid Liberal Organizing

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

Fox News personalities are attempting to downplay the huge number of constituents that are attending town hall events held by their members of Congress as “manufactured” and “paid-for,” and advocating for the cancellation of events because progressive groups are “activating people to turn out and cause a raucous.”

Members Of Congress Hold Town Halls In Their Districts During Congressional Recess

Wall Street Journal: “Members Of Congress Are Preparing To Confront A Wave Of Activism When They Return Home To Their Districts.” Members of Congress are going back to their home districts and holding town hall events with their constituents “for the first congressional recess since President Donald Trump took office.” According to The Wall Street Journal, “Some lawmakers are holding telephone conferences with constituents instead of in-person events. Others are asking constituents to submit questions in advance or requiring tickets to limit the size of the events.” From The Wall Street Journal’s February 18 article:

Members of Congress are preparing to confront a wave of activism when they return home to their districts next week for the first congressional recess since President Donald Trump took office, as liberal activists plan to use town halls and other public events to pressure members to oppose the new administration’s agenda.

[...]

Some lawmakers are holding telephone conferences with constituents instead of in-person events. Others are asking constituents to submit questions in advance or requiring tickets to limit the size of the events. [The Wall Street Journal, 2/18/17]

Fox News Dismiss Congressional Town Hall Attendees As “Manufactured” And “Paid-For” By Outside Groups

Fox’s Peter Doocy: “Some Of The Chaos From GOP Town Hall Meetings Is Very Well Choreographed By The Liberal Activists That Helped Get Barack Obama Elected.” Fox correspondent Peter Doocy described the town hall events as “very well choreographed” by activists who are “essentially giving liberals turn-by-turn directions for disrupting Republican lawmakers” at their town halls. From the February 21 edition of Fox News’ Special Report with Bret Baier:

BRET BAIER (HOST): Congressional Republicans back home during recess are getting plenty of criticism over the speed, or lack thereof, and the success, or lack thereof, of President Trump's agenda. But what the left describes as a grassroots campaign may in fact be the product of serious political maneuvering. Correspondent Peter Doocy is live tonight with some evidence.

PETER DOOCY: Bret, as it turns out, some of the chaos from GOP town hall meetings is very well choreographed by the liberal activists that helped get Barack Obama elected president. Organizing for Action is taking a page now from the playbook of the former president, who was once a community organizer himself, by essentially giving liberals turn-by-turn directions for disrupting Republican lawmakers who want to repeal Obamacare. They’ve now posted online a Congressional recess toolkit that explains how to make the opposition seem bigger than it is.

[...]

It seems these activists only want people friendly to their cause filming because a link on the MoveOn.org-powered site called Resistance Recess warns would-be demonstrators that right-wing groups may try to infiltrate the events. [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 2/21/17]

Fox’s Steve Doocy: "Do You Think It Was Astroturfed? Just A Little Bit.” Fox host Steve Doocy, apparently unaware that Rep. Tom McClintock’s district is larger than a single town, argued that because “the population” of McClintock’s “whole town” is “2,000,” but there were “1,000 people” at McClintock’s town hall, those attending the town hall were “astroturfed” by outside groups. From the February 22 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): At all these town halls all across the country -- astroturfed -- there is profit movement going on where people are unhappy Donald Trump is the president of the United States. There was a fellow out in California in a town of Maricopa -- there he is right there, Congressman McClintock. His whole town -- the town contains-- the population is 2,000. They had 1,000 people there, so do you think it was astroturfed? Just a little bit. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 2/22/17]

Fox’s Brian Kilmeade: “This Seems Manufactured. This Seems Paid-For.” Fox host Brian Kilmeade claimed that the constituents attending town halls “seems manufactured” and “paid-for.” Co-host Ainsley Earhardt agreed, and claimed that there is a “danger” that if constituents are too forceful at town halls, elected officials will not “want to approach you, they don’t want to ask you because they’re scared they’re going to get this backlash.” From the February 22 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

BRIAN KILMEADE (CO-HOST): This seems manufactured. This seems paid-for, and that’s what a lot of these lawmakers are saying behind closed doors.

AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): Well, and here’s the danger of it, you have these lawmakers, we all go to the polls and vote for our local officials. You want to talk to them. You want to get the word out, you want to tell them how you want them to vote or what’s important to you. So, they go up to the podium and they try to find out with you, but then you have these folks that are with these action organizations, and they’re getting paid to do this, right?

KILMEADE: In some cases.

EARHARDT: Some of them? All right, so then they’re screaming, so you can’t get anything done, and your local official, now they don’t want to approach you, they don’t want to ask you because they’re scared they’re going to get this backlash. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 2/22/17]

Fox’s Lisa Boothe: “I Don’t Think There’s Any Point In Doing Town Halls Right Now” Because “These Groups Are Activating People To Turn Out And Cause A Raucous.” Fox’s Lisa Boothe argued that there is no “point in doing town halls right now” because “these groups are activating people to turn out and cause a raucous,” and “you get nothing accomplished when you can’t actually have a dialogue.” From the February 22 edition of Fox News’ Outnumbered:

LISA BOOTHE (CO-HOST): I don't think there’s any point in doing town halls right now. President Trump is right in the sense that these groups are activating people to turn out and cause a raucous. Tom McClintock, who was shown at the beginning of one the tapes, had a police escort to leave one of the events. Even President Obama's old super PAC is one of the groups behind organizing these meetings. You get nothing accomplished when you can't actually have a dialogue.

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There are a thousand different ways to communicate with constituents. You do a telethon town hall, you can reach a hundred thousand people in the district. There are so many events can you do with business owners, smaller group events. [Fox News, Outnumbered, 2/22/17]

Fox’s Pete Hegseth: Groups Are “Going To Bus In Or Bring In Whoever They Need To ... To Make A Political Point, Because The Leftists Hate Donald Trump.” Fox’s Pete Hegseth claimed that outside groups are “going to bus in or bring in whoever they need to, or organize people to come there to make a political point because the leftists hate Donald Trump.”From the February 22 edition of Fox News’ Your World with Neil Cavuto:

NEIL CAVUTO (HOST): There are these going on all across the country, as you know Pete. Some Republicans have pondered, “look, maybe it's just not worth it,” Republican Congressman, “for me to hold these town hall meetings.” And I think they're important to hold, but I also worry about protesters who come in, whether they’re all from the that congressman or woman's district, or Senator’s district -- or state in the case of the Senate, because some of them seem so well-organized and so well-planned. I'm not saying all. I'm saying it's happening with a frequency and coordination the likes of which I’ve never seen.

PETE HEGSETH: Of course it’s coordinated. This is the left's discredit, revolt, undermine Donald Trump's strategy. And they’re going to do it with people who live in the district, people who are liberals, and progressives, and leftists who hate Donald Trump. But they're also going to bus in or bring in whoever they need to, or organize people to come there to make a political point, because the leftists hate Donald Trump. I think our representatives have to keep holding these things and hope there's a real discussion. But it also exposes the left for who they are. They're intolerantly tolerant. They will shout you down and try to shut you down, as opposed to discuss with you. They want to make you look bad, in the process they make themselves bad because there is no discussion. [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto, 2/22/17]

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