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Legitimate News or Sour Grapes?

Reported by Marie Therese - October 26, 2006 -

This morning, Brian Kilmeade, the socially challenged host of FOX & Friends, made a number of disparaging comments about a sketch of Harold Ford, Jr. that appeared in today's Wall Street Journal (subscription required). Fourteen minutes later his fellow hosts - Steve Doocy and Gretchen Carlson - interviewed Rep. Ford.

At 7:00 AM EDT, Brian Kilmeade started the ball rolling by holding up a copy of the Journal and saying "Normally, the Wall Street Journal does a good job on their sketch. Our guest coming up very shortly, Harold Ford, Jr., - a good looking guy - on the cover of Newsweek [sic] (Kilmeade held up a copy of the Wall Street Journal showing a sketch of Ford). This makes him look like 80. ... This doesn't look anything like him."

Steve Doocy explained that the Journal has never had a photograph in its news stories, preferring to adhere to the tradition of the sketch.

Gretchen Carlson chimed in: "You know what I bet, though? Harold Ford, Jr. is just glad to have his face anywhere on the front of the newspaper, since he's in a political race and any politician would be glad to be above the fold on the Wall Street Journal."

Doocy responded, "I don't know, but it's not a good picture."

Kilmeade went on the say that Republican Bob Corker, Ford's opponent, likes Ford despite their differences. Carlson responded that she wasn't too sure about that.

If he wins on November 7th, Harold Ford, Jr. would be the first African-American from the South elected to the Senate since Reconstruction. He acquitted himself very well during his FOX & Friends interview, which you can watch on FOXNews.com. Scroll down the page, then click on the photo of Ford or on his name to open the video window.

Although the RNC pulled the ad yesterday, FOX News aired it four more times during FOX & Friends, twice with audio, twice without. Rep. Ford noted that it appeared on several Tennessee stations as recently as this morning.

HAROLD FORD, JR: "The ad was silly, beneath dignity and decency of the voters of our state, not to mention demeaning to women and dishonoring children, as it ran during family programming time in all the markets in our state."

FOX News aired the ad silently as Ford was speaking.

FORD: "They've been unable to articulate a clear message here on the war, on immigration and equally confusing has been their message on health care and education. So, they've decided to take some liberties and to expound in areas where they're just outright lyin' on my record, and just bein' silly and vicious in some ways, and voters here in Tennessee are above that. I think, really, the national Republican Party underestimated the goodness and decency of people in our state and the backlash, rather, that they got from this ad from Republicans in Tennessee was just enormous. It has made this race what it's always been - a dead heat - and I think it is really driving support out to the polls, becuase right now people are early voting. We have a two-week period where that happens."

Ford continued, saying "What I do know is that it was not decent. There's a lot of smut in that ad. [FOX aired the ad again, silently.] You've got a woman who looks like she's naked from about shoulder up. And, you know, when you can't talk about North Korea and Iraq, you can't talk about about a new policy to win the war in Iraq, as my opponent has been incapable of doing and - you know he unfortunately is the only Senate candidate in the country who hasn't released his tax returns and who had his federal - his own private property raided by federal law enforcement agents for hiring illegal aliens. So, he's tryin' his hardest and I understand politics is a contact sport, but at some level you gotta to be decent and appropriate in how you do these things, and I think they realize they totally crossed the line here."

COMMENT

Why would FOX News script a segment like this one?

Simple.

Republican Bob Corker's image was missing from the article.

Sour grapes.

As for Mr. Ford's sketch, I thought it looked just fine in the online edition of the WSJ.

Unfortunately, my two-star (early) print edition of the paper, usually delivered around 3 AM Pacific Time, had no sketch at all.