I've posted a lot of clips with Jane Hall on The O'Reilly Factor. She often was paired up with the uber-right winger Bernard Goldberg and usually BillO would wind up yelling at her because she didn't agree with his point of view. Her demeanor has always been gentle so I always found it upsetting that BillO would scold her. I mean, he even cut off her microphone once, which was odd for such a mild mannered speaker. She left FOX recently and I did wonder why.
Howard Kurtz tackled the "Should have the Obama administration called FOX News the opposition?" question in his Sunday "Reliable Sources" segment on CNN, and although Hall thought it wasn't a smart move by the administration, she let it out that she quit FOX because they stopped debating the issues. She cited Glenn Beck's "scary" presence as a reason why she left. It kinds of makes the arguments moot at this point by the mainstreamers who are sticking up for FOX. Can't they handle the truth?
Another big problem I have is the way cable TV uses pundits, and it's not just FOX. They constantly will pair up a right-wing opinionator with a journalist who they just assume is a liberal. The journalist usually will go on TV, but isn't in love with this because it puts their "neutrality" at issue. Hall also expressed her displeasure on that front.
KURTZ: Did you feel like you were being used to give Fox a certain degree of legitimacy, coming on as a media professor?
HALL: No, I didn't. The reason I left was in part because they've had less debates than they used to. Is it a fair point to say how much debate is there on MSNBC? How many Republican strategists? We have a bifurcation of the media.
KURTZ: Wait a second. The reason you left is because you feel they have less debate than they used to. In other words, it used to be "Hannity and Colmes," now it's just Hannity. It used to be Bernie and Jane. Now it's just Bernie.
HALL: I think there's less debate than there was. And I'm also, frankly, uncomfortable with Beck, who I think should be called out as somebody whose language is way over the top. And it's scary.
KURTZ: Was that a factor in your decision to leave Fox?
HALL: Yes, it was.
You can see that she didn't go on gunning to attack FOX; Kurtz simply caught a remark and seized on it. Then, as usual, Howie had to defend FOX News, but in so doing, he admitted that Lou Dobbs is an offensive right-winger, just like Beck, in his own commentary about the dispute.
KURTZ: Let me give you my two cents here. This is also polarizing. You either have to take the position that Fox is a courageous news organization or a threat to western civilization. I have criticized things that O'Reilly has said, that Hannity has said. Certainly, on this program, I told Glenn Beck that he was being offensive with words that he had for a Muslim member of Congress. At the same time, I don't think an entire organization should be judged by a few commentaries, any more than I think it is fair to judge CNN by the things that Lou Dobbs says. Look at some of the people at Fox.
I wrote down some names here. Major Garrett used to work at CNN. Bill Hemmer used to work at CNN. Greta Van Susteren used to work at CNN. Chris Wallace used to work at ABC and NBC. Did they all drink the Kool-Aid when they went there? Sometimes, Fox's reflexive opposition to Obama bleeds into its news coverage, as you were saying, Nico. But I don't think it's fair to tar everyone with the same brush. You want to take that on?
Look, Howie, Ailes sets the agenda. Even if certain people working on Fox haven't been drinking the "Kool-aid" (*cough*Shep*cough*Smith*cough) the cable network is a propaganda arm. If you don't like Obama saying so, fine, but the truth is the truth.
PITNEY: I think you paint it a little too moderately. Take their flagship news program "Special Report With Brett Baier." George Mason did a study, 80 percent of the coverage is negative.
KURTZ: Toward Obama?
PITNEY: Toward Obama.
KURTZ: Is that on the opinion round table?
PITNEY: No. Just the first 30 minutes.
Says it all.