For years, Democrats have been deeply conflicted about Fox News. At times, they've shunned the network as an irredeemable source of disinformation, boycotting it or banning it from covering Democratic presidential primary debates. But such efforts have been temporary: They have tended to resume appearing on the network and have reverted to treating it as more or less a news channel, albeit a hostile one.

Now, however, it's becoming clear that interacting with Fox News as a news outlet in any sense is no longer an option for Democrats. In light of the news that network personalities knowingly deceived viewers about the 2020 election for cynical pecuniary purposes, Democrats plainly have to take on Fox News in a new way. And some of them know it.

"I don't think we've ever had a moment like this, where a major news network has been exposed as deliberately deluding its viewers or readers," Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) told me. "This is a seminal moment in the history of mass media. And we need to treat it that way."

This week, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries signaled an aggressive posture in a letter to Fox News founder Rupert Murdoch. The two New York Democrats demanded that the network get star anchor Tucker Carlson and others to recant their lies about the 2020 election on the air. The letter said: "Though you have acknowledged your regret in allowing this grave propaganda to take place, your network hosts continue to promote, spew, and perpetuate election conspiracy theories to this day."

This might be the first time that the Democratic congressional leadership has formally labeled Fox News content "propaganda."

The term is entirely apt. As newly revealed texts from Carlson and other on-air personalities and executives demonstrate, they feared that telling their audience the truth about the 2020 vote could cost them a disastrously high number of viewers. Instead, Fox News personalities kept lying about it while executives looked the other way.

Carlson even rage-texted that a Fox News reporter who fact-checked President Donald Trump's lies about Dominion Voting Systems and the ballot count should be fired for "measurably hurting" News Corp.'s "stock price." The texts, which emerged in Dominion’s defamation lawsuit against Fox, also show that Carlson and host Sean Hannity agreed that the channel’s accurate call of Trump’s loss in Arizona threatened its "brand."

Murdoch himself admitted in a deposition that Fox News had failed to do enough to prevent its personalities from pushing lies about the election. In short, the network deliberately sought to keep its viewers captive in its propaganda bubble to keep ratings up - and revenue flowing.

Given these revelations, doesn’t that oblige Democrats to adopt an approach commensurate with the reality that Fox News is systematically and concertedly deceiving millions of people about the most fundamental workings of our governing institutions?

This might start with forcefully conveying to the public what’s been revealed about Fox News’s post-election conduct.

"We need to be in the business of communicating the gravity of what happened," Murphy told me. He noted that Democrats must be "very clear about how manipulative Fox executives and hosts are," and that they rely on "deliberate lying as a means to get ratings, and to keep viewers hooked in."

Should Democrats again refrain from appearing on Fox News? They have long been conflicted about this, with some arguing that Democrats shouldn’t forgo the opportunity to reach right-leaning voters wherever possible. But in light of the new revelations, there might be a better way to think about it.

Dan Pfeiffer, who was senior communications adviser to President Barack Obama, says Democrats should remember that their appearances on Fox News will never reach many conservative voters in unadulterated form. A Democrat’s quotes will inevitably be diced into incriminating bites and fed to a larger conservative audience via high-rated opinion shows and right-wing social media.