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Fox News Watch on the Fox Debate Controversy

Written By mista sense on Sunday, March 18, 2007 | 10:10 AM

You gotta hand it to the Fox News Channel for keeping "News Watch" on the air for more than a decade now. Don't get me wrong, it's a great show. But in every episode, Jane Hall gently criticizes Fox in her moderate Texas-liberal way, and in every episode, Neal Gabler not-so-gently criticizes Fox--he's a genuine New York lefty. Cal Thomas is a pretty much down-the-line conservative, in the familiar Fox mold, but Jim Pinkerton is a quirky libertarian and semi-conservative, not a reliable "vote," as it were, for the conservative worldview. And Eric Burns, the Emmy-winning host, pictured above, has no discernable ideology--he's no Bill O'Reilly, in terms of holding sway over guests.

Which is to say, the show is genuinely fair-and-balanced. Fox trusts its panel to go each in his or her own way, and it trusts the viewers to absorb and decide for themselves.

And so it goes with the continuing controversy over the Nevada Democratic debate. On Saturday night's show, Hall said that the Democrats were making a mistake in abandoning the "50 State" strategy, which had served them so well in 2006, when they won elections in every state, even "red" Fox-watching states. But she couldn't resist jibing Fox as being pro-Republican and pro-conservative.

Gabler quipped that he didn't want to "bite the hand that feeds me my kool-aid"--but then he did bite it, hard. He even falsely accused Burns of using the word "extreme" twice to describe Democratic lefty bloggers--when in fact, Burns used the word extreme only once. And TCG knows this, because she watched the video on Johnny Dollar's always cool site!

But Gabler and Pinkerton did agree that the now-famous joke that Roger Ailes told on March 8 was at the expense of George W. Bush, not Barack Obama. Which is to say, two of the more interesting voices on Fox--the lefty Gabler and the independent Pinkerton--both agreed that Ailes was not dissing a Democrat, but rather, a Republican. And so, of course the effort by the Nevada Democrats, and now the national Democrats, to spin their way out of the Fox-sponsored debate--the Dems would rather kowtow to the blue bloggers than make friends with red state voters--is a lie.

But you knew that.

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