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Jonathan Alter Goes to Bat For FOX's Chris Wallace

Reported by Marie Therese - September 26, 2006 -

Last night (9/25/06) on MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann, guest Jonathan Alter of Newsweek Magazine stated that he did not believe that FOX News' Chris Wallace had "set up" President Clinton. He used as his rationalization his belief that there was no pre-existing agreement between Clinton and FOX News. He defended Wallace's question about bin Laden and said that Clinton just got angry, something the President has been known to do, especially with reporters, including Alter himself. However, yesterday morning on FOX & Friends Chris Wallace himself admitted that just such an agreement existed and gave the details.

CHRIS WALLACE (by phone): "... Just very briefly, the President has - the ex-President - has this quite remarkable program he's doing called the Clinton Global Initiative to raise billions of dollars to help in developing countries and the ground rules were 15 minutes, half on the CGI, half on anything else you wanted to ask. And I planned to absolutely observe the ground rules. Asked him a couple of questions about his commitment to philanthropy and then asked, quite frankly, what I thought was a very non-confrontational - you know, a probing question but the kind we ask regularly on FOX News Sunday [that is] why didn't you do more to get bin Laden and he went off."

As outlined by Judy in an earlier post, Wallace launched into his bin Laden question only four minutes into the interview, thereby sandbagging Clinton, who clearly - as any sane person would - expected the first 7.5 minutes to be about the CGI and the second 7.5 minutes to be free choice.

Jonathan Alter was mistaken and should have checked with Wallace first before saying that he did not believe that an agreement was in effect prior to the interview.

Thankfully, later in his show Keith Olbermann delivered what has to be THE best synopsis of the Bush Presidency and its Machiavellian machinations. You absolutely MUST watch this video!

Crooks & Liars.

Transcript here.

Now, why not take a moment and thank Keith Olbermann for telling the truth?

countdown@msnbc.com