Hume: Shrewd of Edwards to Spurn Debate Since Fox Cannot Be at War With Him

As the Managing Editor of Fox News Channel's Washington, DC bureau, you might have thought Brit Hume would have taken great umbrage at John Edwards' high-profile decision to spurn a debate of Dem presidential contenders that Fox had organized for August in Nevada. The Edwards pull-out ultimately led to a cancellation of the debate by the Nevada state Democratic party. Edwards had come under pressure from liberal netroots and organizations such as Move.on, which had organized a petition drive calling for cancellation of the debate.

But in a fair-and-balanced comment reflecting an appreciation of real politik, Hume has praised Edwards' move as "shrewd" -- at least in the short run. During the panel discussion on this morning's Fox News Sunday, Hume observed:

"Edwards is really the key political player in this. And when you think about it for a minute, in the short term this is probably a shrewd political move by him on a couple counts. One is that it separates him from the other candidates on this, at least briefly, it pleases the wing of the party that is active and important in the nominating process, and what Edwards knows is that while he may be at war against Fox News, Fox News is not and cannot be at war with him.

View video here.

"He knows, and his people know, that Carl Cameron and Jim Angle and Major Garrett and you Chris in interviews and I as a news anchor on a nightly program are going to continue to treat him in the same fair way that we've always treated him, and we must do that. Now, he might get roughed up by some conservative commentators on Fox, but he'll be defended by liberal commentators on Fox as well. So in the short term, this is probably good politics. In the long term, I have my doubts but that remains to be seen."

There was a light moment at the end of the segment. NPR's Juan Williams criticized his fellow liberals for cancelling the debate, saying that it ran counter to the liberal spirit of openness. "I think it's crazy to tell people to shut up," said Williams. When host Chris Wallace observed that Juan was "fired up" over the issue, Juan replied "I sometimes have this argument with Brit Hume. I think he's trying to shut me up."

Brit jokingly interjected "shut up, Juan," much to the general mirth as you can see from Chris Wallace's reaction.

Contact Mark at mark@gunhill.net

Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.