2020 Democrats Seek Voters in an Unusual Spot: Fox News

“I don’t have faith in your leadership at Fox News at the senior levels,” the chairman, Tom Perez, told the anchor Bill Hemmer.

Mr. Hemmer, who works on the reporting side of the network, pushed back, comparing Fox News’s opinion programming to that of a newspaper’s editorial page. “We’ll give you a fair shake,” he said.

That argument is echoed by other Fox News personnel, who say that the Democrats’ debate decision was shortsighted and that the network’s reporters serve as neutral journalists. Mr. Wallace won praise in 2016 for his moderating of the third presidential debate.

Fox News declined to comment for this article.

Lesser-known candidates like Andrew Yang, a former tech executive, and Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii have made appearances in shorter segments on the network. But Mr. Sanders is currently a front-runner in the Democratic race, and his full-blown town hall represented a bigger leap.

Mr. Sanders’s audience on Monday was significantly bigger than the 1.95 million who watched Ms. Harris on CNN in January, the previous benchmark for televised town halls. He attracted more viewers between the ages of 25 and 54, the key demographic in cable news, than the same night’s broadcast of Rachel Maddow, who is MSNBC’s top-rated star.

Still, some candidates remain on the fence.

Asked on Tuesday if she would participate in a Fox News town hall, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts told a reporter to speak to her communications director. “She’s the one figuring out where we’re going to go and who we’re talking to,” Ms. Warren said.

Contacted on Wednesday, the communications director, Kristen Orthman, declined to comment.