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More On Chris Wallace v. Jon Stewart: Wallace’s Laughable Attempts To Explain Away His Own Suggestion That Fox News Is Biased

Reported by Ellen - June 26, 2011 -

As I previously posted, Chris Wallace made what looked to me like a stunning admission of Fox News bias during his interview with Jon Stewart on last week’s Fox News Sunday (6/19/11). Stewart also picked up on the comment and noted it the next night – along with the fact that that comment got edited out of the on-air interview. Today, Wallace admitted he wished he had phrased his comment differently but claimed he didn’t mean what he had apparently said. Then he further “defended” Fox News by “proving” that their viewers are not as misinformed as The Daily Show viewers. As if the two are comparable. Well, Chris, maybe they should be.

In the Stewart interview, Wallace argued that Fox is something like an antidote to the liberal agenda of the rest of the media. In the unedited interview, Wallace said, “I think we’re the counterweight… I think that they have a liberal agenda and I think we tell the other side of the story.” As I wrote last week, Wallace never said Fox tells the full, fair and balanced story, but, rather, the “other side.” I also pointed that Wallace also hinted he was not too pleased with everything on Fox when he said, “I will defend everything that we put on this show (his emphasis).” The implication was, he could not or would not defend everything on other Fox News shows.

The next night, Stewart made Daily Show hay out of Wallace’s “counterweight” remark (but let slide the "this show" comment).

As proof of Stewart’s power, Wallace felt the need to rebut. At the end of today’s Fox News Sunday, he spent more than four minutes responding to the response of the Stewart interview.

Just as he did with Stewart, Wallace’s main “defense” of Fox seemed to be that the rest of the media is as bad or worse. For example, in response to Stewart’s on-target accusation that the mainstream media’s real bias is toward “sensationalism, conflict and laziness,” Wallace held up a headline from the Huffington Post, "YOU'RE INSANE!" displayed over an image of Stewart addressing Wallace, as proof.

But what does that have to do with Fox News fairness or balance? Nothing, of course.

Wallace did have a point that if Fox had really wanted to hide the comments that got edited out, it would not have posted the full, unedited interview on its website. I say, let’s see what happens the next time Stewart visits Fox.

Then Wallace addressed “the takeaway moment” of the “counterweight” comment. “I made exactly the same point… on the air,” Wallace insisted. He showed a clip of himself saying, in the on-air interview, “I don’t think our viewers are the least bit disappointed with us. I think our viewers think, ‘Finally they’re getting somebody who tells the other side of the story.’”

But the issue was not what Fox News viewers think. The issue was what Wallace thinks. And, as I previously noted, Fox is not supposed to be airing just “the other side” but the full, fair and balanced story.

Wallace continued, “Well, I wish I had said the ‘full story.’

There's no doubt about that!

Wallace went on to say, “Here’s what I meant.” But in what Freud would almost surely think of as a Freudian slip, Wallace said, “We don’t go easy on Republicans. We try to provide a fuller perspective. For instance, pointing out the strengths and some of the problems with ObamaCare before anyone else did.”

The fact that Wallace used the right-wing phrase “ObamaCare” (and he repeated it later in the segment) was pretty damning right there. The fact that Wallace didn’t even seem to think that mattered was even more revealing. But more importantly, Wallace again did not say Fox tried to provide a full perspective, just a “fuller” one. As if proving the point, he failed to note - as a full disclosure would surely have provided and as Stewart later correctly pointed out - Fox helped legitimize the falsehood that health care reform law represented a “government takeover of health care.” In fact, “government takeover of health care” was named as PolitiFact’s 2010 Lie of the Year.

But Wallace was all for bringing up PolitiFact in order to discredit Stewart. PolitiFact, Wallace gleefully noted, rated Stewart's claim that Fox News viewers are the “most consistently misinformed” as false. But somehow Wallace “forgot” to mention the avalanche of “false” ratings Fox News has received. He also somehow missed the numerous criticisms of the PolitiFact rating.

Finally, Wallace boasted about the 20% of Fox News viewers who knew that Eric Holder is the Attorney General of the United States. That doesn’t sound like the kind of statistic worth bragging about to me, but I guess in comparison to the 17% and 14% of MSNBC and CNN, respectively, it might be noteworthy. But what Wallace didn’t point out is that Holder is a regular and deliberate target of Fox – and is probably discussed more often than on other networks.

But without a trace of humor, Wallace triumphantly announced that viewers of Jon Stewart’s Daily Show were “all the way down near the bottom.”

Wallace trumpeted, “I guess the joke is on Jon Stewart.”

Not at all, Chris, not at all.

Video via Mediaite.

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