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"We Repeat, You Decide"

Reported by Judy - July 29, 2004 -

Jon Scott of Fox News Live spent a good bit of this morning (July 29) trying to knock down John Edwards' amazing speech last night. Not once, not twice, but three times, Scott questioned Republicans about the speech. That's three times in only fifteen minutes. And two of the interviews were extremely repetitive.

Scott began the triple header (9:02 a.m.) by replaying former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani's earlier appearance on Fox and Friends (8:15 a.m. EDT), when he disputed Edwards' characterization of the United States as "two Americas" divided between rich and poor. "I grew up in one America," insisted Giuliani. "That's an old Democratic idea," dating back to Mario Cuomo in 1984, he said. [Fox and Friends also had a powder puff interview with Joe Lieberman, D-Connecticut, but didn't have him rebut Giuliani (8:23 a.m. EDT)].

After some blather on the missing Utah woman, Scott went to Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. Unlike Giuliani, who was on alone, Cornyn appeared alongside Democratic Senator Frank Lauterberg of New Jersey. Cornyn commented (9:05 a.m. EDT) that he has "difficulty with his concept of two Americas." Scott then asked Lautenberg a question dealing with job creation, rather than asking him to respond to Cornyn's claim. To his credit, Lauterberg answered Scott's diversionary question and then rebutted Cornyn.

Scott paused for a deep breath, and then questioned (9:13 a.m. EDT) Rich Galen, GOP strategist, and Elaine Kamarck, a former adviser to Al Gore. Refreshingly, Galen skipped the "no two Americas" talking point and just went into attack mode. Kerry only picked Edwards, Galen said "because he can energize the crowd. ... The truth has nothing to do with swaying a jury. [And] the truth has nothing to do with his (Edwards') speech." He also interrupted Kamarck when she said that conventions lay out themes for the general election. Galen muttered, "From Al Sharpton?"

In what way was this unfair and unbalanced? On an elementary level, it's unbalanced because Scott had three Republicans and two Democrats on his show. On another level, however, the time period was unfair because of the way it used repetition to help Republicans drive home their point about "no two Americas." That sort of repetition is what parents use in teaching their pre-schooler how to count. It's not mature political discourse.

As a journalist, Scott did not have to sit and listen to a repeat of the "no two Americas" from Cornyn. He could have pointed out that Giuliani just made that point twice in the last hour and gone on to ask Cornyn about something else instead. Scott didn't. Is Scott that weak of an interviewer?

The interviews also were unfair and unbalanced because they presented differing interpretations side-by-side with no attempt to challenge the veracity of either one or give the viewer any information on which to make up his or her mind. Scott could have asked Giuliani for information on disparities in income, property values, school achievement, and so on in New York to back up his claim of no two Americas. He didn't. Or Scott could have asked Lauterberg to respond to the same issue, even asking him to back up his position with some figures. He didn't do that, either. Instead, Scott tried to change the subject and leave the no two Americas theme echoing in the audience's ears. That's how Fox is able to provide a partisan advantage to Republicans while seeming to be fair and balanced in questioning a Democrat and a Republican.

Call it ineptitude, laziness, or partisanship, but Fox let Republicans hammer home a theme without any supporting documentation. Fox should change its slogan from "We report, you decide," to "We repeat, you decide."