Can Fox be as Fair to Obama as I am to Governor Perry?

Fox News Sunday Host Chris Wallace

Liberals and Democrats were upset with Fox News this weekend (shocking, I know) because Fox News Sunday Host Chris Wallace “slammed” the White House for not booking Sec. of State Hillary Clinton and Sec. of Defense Robert Gates on his program.  Wallace was described by some as “whining.”  But, I watched the clip and didn’t see it that way.

Take a look:

So, Wallace wanted to make it abundantly clear that he’s being snubbed by the White House this weekend. I think that might be a little silly since President Obama himself has appeared on Fox News Channel many times, including on Super Bowl Sunday with Bill O’Reilly.   Note: Fox News Sunday is on Fox Network, not Fox News Channel, but Wallace’s show is part of the Fox News Brand. It’s also a little silly and gratuitous for Wallce to point out he’s got better ratings than some of the programs on which Clinton and Gates did make appearances.

Now that I’ve pointed out the ridiculous nature of how Wallace injected this information into his broadcast, I will say there is nothing wrong with including it.  I certainly don’t see it as whining.  I think liberals are doing themselves a disservice if they won’t watch Wallace.  On the same program, he made conservative firebrand and GOP Presidential hopeful (I think) Newt Gingrich squirm with questions about his affairs. Here’s part of that:

See? Wallace doesn’t seem to want to give a pass to a Republican favorite.

I don’t give passes to politicians either.

I have lost count of the number of times I have informed my listeners that Governor Perry is welcome on the air with me, even if he never responds to interview requests.  It seems the governor’s press strategy includes only appearing on outlets deemed conservative enough to play to the audience he’d like to attract.  That’s a smart strategy and he gets kudos from me for that.

How I imagine Gov. Perry might look while calling into my show.

It could just be that the governor may not like me.  I’m among the journalists he blocked on twitter.  I don’t know if the White House blocks Chris Wallace from following administration officials.  I’ve never talked on the air about being blocked by Perry because it’s not relevant to my position as a journalist.  If I did that, I would be whining.  Perry’s  free to block anyone he wishes.  But, letting my listeners know the governor’s office has declined interview request after interview request is presenting a fact to the audience, just as Wallace did.

My job is to let people know how the choices the governor makes in office will impact their lives.  I don’t need to interview him to do that.  It would make my coverage better and he’s always invited, but the fact he has so far refused to be live on the air with me doesn’t change the mission.

See, fairness isn’t a result of who you interview or the fact that you have just as many liberals as conservatives on the air.  Fairness is born of accuracy.

If  a news outlet strives for accuracy first, instead of only trying to book guests that will give an appearance of fairness, then accusations of bias are much harder to prove.  Unfortunately, those accusations are easier to believe because the facade of fairness-by-numbers (we had a liberal and a conservative on, so we’re fair, I swear!) is easier to digest.  Sometimes there is only one version of events.  As a friend put it recently:  “If you have someone on the air who says the sky is blue, you don’t need to go track down some blithering idiot to say ‘no it’s green!'”

Bottm line:  Journalists should seek out all legitimate points of view, but there is also a greater need for them to find objective truth.

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