Fox News Invites Employees To Bite The Hand That Feeds Them

October 1st, 2006 9:39 AM

Being a regular Fox News Watch viewer, there was nothing surprising, tuning into last evening's discussion of the Clinton-Chris Wallace dust-up, in hearing lefty panelist Neal Gabler take his employer and colleagues to task.

Among his moves, Gabler:

  • Claimed "this network's reputation [presumably as right-leaning] precedes it."
  • Asserted that Chris Wallace "did not frame the question properly. He asked 'why didn't you do more?' Which is like asking 'will you stop beating your wife?'"
  • Defended Wallace only at the expense of other Fox colleagues: "He is not a Hannity, he's not an O'Reilly he's not a Brit Hume, Cavuto, Gibson." Hume of course is not merely an on-air personality but also the powerful FNC managing editor.
  • Spurned host Eric Burns' entreaty to add someone from another network to his list of partisan TV personalities.

Later, amiable liberal Jane Hall chimed in - after smilingly mentioning that she was glad she had recently re-signed with FNC [and thus presumably was not vulerable to recriminations]. Claimed Jane: "this network's commentary beat up on him, beat up on Clinton, and did not beat up on Bush."

I wasn't surprised by any of this because it is far from unprecedented for the liberal panelists on the show to bite the hand that feeds them.  Gabler took that to extremes back in December, when he said: "let's talk about the elephant in the room: Fox News. O'Reilly, Hannity and Gibson are demagogues."

But then, something occured to me.  FNC is regularly accused, from all corners of the MSM, of conservative bias. Yet, to my knowledge, it is the only network that regularly offers its paid employees a forum to criticize it.  Now, I have to acknowledge that I rarely watch 'Reliable Sources,' CNN's counterpart to Fox News Watch, hosted by Howard Kurtz.  It's possible that its in-house people regularly take shots at CNN, but if so I can't recall such criticism making its way into the news. Certainly when it comes to the broadcast networks, no such criticism occurs with any regularity. Only broadcast news refugees - such as former CBSer Bernard Goldberg - seem free to speak truth to MSM power.

So let the liberal media accuse FNC of having a conservative slant.  But let's give Fox News credit for having the self-confidence - and 'fair & balanced' journalistic standards - to regularly invite its own employees to bash it, with the only 'reprisal' being a contract renewal.

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Finkelstein lives in the liberal haven of Ithaca, NY. View webcasts of Mark's award-winning TV show 'Right Angle' here. Contact Mark at