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Bernie Sanders’ Fox News Town Hall Was a Ratings Smash. Now More Dems Are Thinking About Doing Them.

The Daily Beast logo The Daily Beast 4/16/2019 By gideon.resnick@thedailybeast.com (Gideon Resnick)
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Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) Monday evening Fox News town-hall event was the most-watched town-hall event of the 2020 campaign thus far, according to early Nielsen data. And at least three other Democratic candidates are open to participating in one of their own.

According to early Nielsen data, more than 2.5 million viewers tuned in to hear Sanders, a self-described “democratic socialist,” make his case on Fox News. That total viewership bested CNN’s Bernie Sanders town hall event from back in February. The Fox viewership also doubled MSNBC’s during the same time period on Monday evening, and nearly tripled CNN’s.

Additionally, per Nielsen, Fox’s Sanders event brought in 489,000 viewers between the ages of 25 and 54—a key demographic for cable-news advertisers—trouncing CNN’s 281,000 tally and MSNBC’s 208,000.

The event, which took place in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, saw the Vermont senator discuss a wide range of topics and occasionally spar with moderators Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum.

While the Democratic National Committee banned the network from hosting one of its sanctioned debates, the success of Sanders’ town-hall event—both in terms of ratings and the headlines generated—comes as at least three other presidential campaigns consider being involved in a similar event.

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is in talks to participate in a Fox News town hall, a campaign aide told The Daily Beast.

Meanwhile, the campaign for Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), the latest entry into the crowded Democratic contest, said “he’s willing to do a Fox town hall, and we expect to start discussions with the network soon regarding a time and place.”

And Julia Krieger, communications director for Rep. Tim Ryan’s (D-OH) presidential campaign said that he is also “willing to do a town hall with Fox News,” adding that “the campaign has reached out proactively to the network to express interest in this type of forum.”

Andrew Kirell contributed reporting.

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