Chris Wallace Strikes Back At Jon Stewart: Hannity and O'Reilly's Viewers Better Informed Than Daily Show's

Chris Wallace told Don Imus Thursday he intended to fully respond to the fallout from last week's interview with Jon Stewart.

True to his word, at the conclusion of the most recent "Fox News Sunday," Wallace struck back at Stewart's claim that Fox watchers are the most misinformed media viewers by demonstrating that folks who watch "Hannity" and "The O'Reilly Factor" were actually better informed than "Daily Show" viewers (video follows with transcript and commentary):

CHRIS WALLACE, HOST: Now, the surprising fallout from our interview last Sunday with Jon Stewart. I figured it would get some reaction, but not that it would light up the internet. One of Jon’s arguments was that the bias of the mainstream media is not to push a liberal agenda.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON STEWART: The bias of the mainstream media is toward sensationalism, conflict, and laziness.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: The Huffington Post seemed to approve that Sunday afternoon when it ran this headline that seemed more appropriate to a declaration of war. Then on Monday, Stewart led his show by complaining about the editing of our interview. True, we did cut our 24-minute conversation down to fourteen. But we posted the full interview on our website. That's the only reason you could see it.

I was more surprised by Jon’s claim we left out the take-away moment: the moment where I gave away the game.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEWART: Do you believe that Fox News is exactly the ideological equivalent of…

WALLACE: I think we're the counterweight.

STEWART: …of NBC News?

WALLACE: I think we're the counterweight.

STEWART: You believe that?

WALLACE: I think that they have a liberal agenda and we tell the other side of the story.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: But I made exactly the same point in the interview we ran on the air.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: Jon seemed to think that was a big deal, that I said we tell the other side of the story. While I wish I had said the full story, here is what I meant. As we showed today, we don’t go easy on Republicans. But we try to provide a fuller perspective. For instance, pointing out the strengths and some of the problems with ObamaCare before anyone else did. But let me give you a classic example of what “fair and balanced” means to me.

After Hurricane Katrina, the mainstream media piled on FEMA for the failure to respond to the crisis. And the federal government did a lousy job. But it was Fox News that started reporting on the failure of the first responders, the city of New Orleans, and the state of Louisiana to help people. Yes, we reported FEMA’s problems, but we also told the other side of the story.

And then there was the most heated moment of the interview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEWART: Who is the most consistently misinformed media viewers, the most consistently misinformed? Fox. Fox viewers. Consistently. Every poll.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: The Pulitzer Prize-winning website PolitiFact looked into that statement, and on its Truth-O-Meter it rated Jon’s claim false. But the details are even more interesting. In a survey called “Misinformation in the 2010 Election,” people were asked a series of fact questions like which president signed tarp? But the poll also asked questions like this. “As you know, the American economy had a major downturn starting in the fall of 2008. Do you think that now the American economy is ‘a,’ starting to recover or ‘b,’ still getting worse?” "Starting to recover" was the so-called right answer. If you said, "still getting worse" you were officially misinformed. And if you questioned whether climate change is occurring or whether ObamaCare will add to deficit, you were also mistaken.

Then there was last year's Pew Poll which asked four fact questions like what job did Eric Holder have? It turns out Fox News scored better, not worse, than MSNBC, CNN, the network evening news and the network morning news. As for individual shows, 31 percent of “Hannity” viewers got all four questions correct. 29 percent for “O'Reilly.” And all the way down near the bottom viewers of Jon Stewart’s “Daily Show" at 22 percent.

So folks, all that talk about you’re the most consistently misinformed viewers? I guess the joke is on Jon Stewart.

Indeed it is.

Bravo, Chris! Bravo!

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