‘Reliable Sources’ Panel Gives Three Thumbs Up to Fox News’ GOP Debate

Here’s something you don’t see every day: three media members – two from liberal press outlets – agreeing that Fox News actually did something right.

Yet, that’s what happened on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” Sunday, as host Howard Kurtz and his guests discussed the Republican debates aired Tuesday.

Kurtz began:

Let’s face it, a lot of people expected Fox to go easy on the Republicans. Did that happen?

National Review’s David Frum was first up, and, not so surprisingly, raved:

I think it was a triumphant night for Fox. And I say this as someone who has often had doubts about the way they cover politics. But, they asked, the, the important thing they did was not that they were tough. Anyone can be tough. They were precise. One of the problems with the first debate was that the 60 second format felt too short for an answer.

[…]

When asked diffuse, rambling, “Look, I’m the journalist, I’m the star, look at me” questions…then 60 seconds is too short. But if you say, “Here’s an answer, yes, no,” 60 seconds is plenty of time. I thought the Fox questioners did a masterful job.

GQ’s Ryan Lizza expanded on this theme:

Yeah, look, there’s the good Fox, and there’s the bad Fox. Fox has a reputation for being intellectually dishonest, and a little bit propagandist for the Republican Party. And, with certain commentators that’s true. If you had Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly, uh, doing this debate, it would be totally different. But they also have a good team of political reporters who are junkies, and ask good questions.

Exactly. This issue should never have been about Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly, for they never were going to be on the panel, and hadn't been in the past when Fox News hosted debates. This was a ridiculous red herring floated by the left, and, in particular, the MoveOn.org and Netroots crowd.

Yet, as Lizza accurately pointed out, Fox News has "a good team of political reporters who are junkies, and ask good questions," and that's all that matters.

But maybe most surprising was US News & World Report’s Gloria Borger agreeing with this premise:

Well, I think the key to being a good questioner, a good journalist in this kind of a program is you have to have well-researched questions. They knew their facts. And they threw them out there.

KURTZ: So, should Democrats debate on Fox? They are basically boycotting Fox.

BORGER: I do not see why the Democrats should not debate on Fox News.

Interesting, wouldn’t you agree?

In reality, I have seen a number of clearly liberal media representatives voice similar sentiments on these types of programs. However, if they really felt this way, then they should be writing regular columns chastising the Democrats for their atrocious behavior in this regard.

After all, if this situation was reversed, and it was Republicans doing the boycotting, the finger-pointing would be on America’s front pages, and not just on little-watched talk shows airing early Sunday morning.

What follows is a partial transcript of this segment.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: Let’s face it, a lot of people expected Fox to go easy on the Republicans. Did that happen?

DAVID FRUM, NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE: I think it was a triumphant night for Fox. And I say this as someone who has often had doubts about the way they cover politics. But, they asked, the, the important thing they did was not that they were tough. Anyone can be tough. They were precise. One of the problems with the first debate was that the 60 second format felt too short for an answer. But that was because…

KURTZ: That was the debate on MSNBC.

FRUM: That’s right. When asked diffuse, rambling, “Look, I’m the journalist, I’m the star, look at me” questions…

KURTZ: Who would you be referring to?

FRUM: One of the other questioners…then 60 seconds is too short. But if you say, “Here’s an answer, yes, no,” 60 seconds is plenty of time. I thought the Fox questioners did a masterful job.

KURTZ: For those that don’t know, Chris Matthews moderated the first Republican debate on MSNBC. A little difference in the style?

RYAN LIZZA, GQ CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, look, there’s the good Fox, and there’s the bad Fox. Fox has a reputation for being intellectually dishonest, and a little bit propagandist for the Republican Party. And, with certain commentators that’s true. If you had Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly, uh, doing this debate, it would be totally different. But they also have a good team of political reporters who are junkies, and ask good questions.

GLORIA BORGER, US NEWS & WORLD REPORT: Well, I think the key to being a good questioner, a good journalist in this kind of a program is you have to have well-researched questions. They knew their facts. And they threw them out there.

KURTZ: So, should Democrats debate on Fox? They are basically boycotting Fox.

BORGER: I do not see why the Democrats should not debate on Fox News.

KURTZ: Alright.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.