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FOX News Throws Stones From Their Glass House At Angelina Jolie

Reported by Ellen - June 15, 2007 -

Hannity & Colmes, which routinely excludes Alan Colmes from softball-questions-only interviews with Republicans, doesn’t seem to be in any position to be complaining about Angelina Jolie setting conditions on interviews. But last night (6/14/07), there was Softball Hannity, who recently helped likely presidential candidate Fred Thompson come up with an answer to his seemingly contradictory positions on abortion, suddenly all concerned about journalistic integrity. Meanwhile, the panel was stacked with anti-Jolie guests only. With video.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Jolie fan, and I found the restrictions she tried to place on reporters distasteful (though I have no problem with her banning FOX News). However, unlike the Republicans on FNC, Jolie is unlikely to have much of an effect on public policy any time in the near future. But to hear FOX News tell it, not being able to ask Jolie about her private life was a much bigger infringement of freedom of the press than Hannity declining to ask presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani about his partnership with the ethically-challenged Bernard Kerik and helpfully (and falsely) stating that Kerik is not part of Giuliani’s record.

To top off the hypocrisy, the “fair and balanced” network offered no attempt to present Jolie’s side of the story. As it turned out, Jolie went on The Daily Show that evening and said that the contracts presented to reporters were not mandatory and were drawn up by a representative trying to protect her. Jolie also said they went too far and that she wouldn't have made those demands. (H/T chrish). Also, it might have been worth noting how overwhelming and downright terrifying it can be when you're the quarry of a media frenzy and how tempting it might be for someone like Jolie to want to take some control.

Instead, we got Pat Lalama whom I have yet seen make it through a single Hannity & Colmes interview without maligning the Hollywood community in which she lives and operates. The other guest was Ellis Henican. I like Henican (usually) but as a paid FOX News contributor he’s not exactly a neutral party on the issues. If FOX was really concerned about having a full and open discussion, they would have hosted a FOX News critic like David Brock, of Media Matters, who has been repeatedly prevented by FOX News from challenging them directly on the air, or even Robert Greenwald, director and producer of Outfoxed.

Edward R. Hannity asked, “If anybody agreed to this contract, you know, that they would agree not to ask, you know, certain questions, what does that mean for journalism?”

Henican responded, “A terrible thing. It’s shocking.” He added that there are many papers and magazines, especially on the entertainment side, that “agree to this stuff everyday.” But, Henican dubiously asserted, “We wouldn’t agree, Newsday wouldn’t agree, FOX wouldn’t agree.” Maybe not, but probably because Republicans know they can count on agreeable conditions when they appear on FOX without having to ask.

Hannity must have expended his interest in journalistic ethics with that earlier poser because a short while later he said he didn’t have a problem with Jolie’s attempt to manipulate her public image. However, he said, “I do have a problem, Pat, when she tries to say the FOX News Channel can’t be there.” But did he have a problem when Rudy Giuliani, Dick Cheney and Fred Thompson (to name a few) didn’t allow themselves to be interviewed by Alan Colmes, right on Hannity’s own show? Not that I saw.

Hannity went on to note peevishly that Fox gave Jolie’s movie “a fabulous thumbs up,” as though the network had done her a big favor and was owed something in return.

Unfortunately, Alan Colmes offered little in the way of an alternative perspective. He joked that Jolie behaved the way she did because she thinks she’s the Democratic nominee for president. Later, he read the terms Jolie wanted for doing an interview and derisively quipped, “Who is she, Pinochet?” However, he also pointed out that usmagazine.com had reported that Jolie has reversed her restrictions on interviews.

Henican said, “Let’s just don’t do this stuff. Let’s stop (making deals with celebrities) and believe me, they will come around… Let the movie fail, I’ve got no problem with that.” Henican went on to say that FOX News shouldn’t cover her at all.