The video: A pair of Fox News personalities created a media dust-up this week, saying on the air that they use kid gloves when discussing Sarah Palin, who earns more than $1 million a year as a Fox News contributor. Greg Gutfeld and Bob Beckel, co-hosts of the Fox News program The Five, were discussing Palin's fierce defense of the Tea Party when Gutfeld said the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee is "like a coworker" and that "if I say something bad and I see her in the hallway I feel really awkward and wrong." Beckel agreed: "Many times, I'll be honest, I've pulled my punches." (Watch the video below.) The Fox hosts later insisted they were being facetious. "So you make one joke and left-wing sites... go crazy because they're so desperate for any kind of Palin anecdote — that's like their heroin," says Gutfeld, as quoted by CNN. Beckel insists that nobody at Fox has ever told him to hold back on anyone, and that "I'd punch them out if they did."
The reaction: "It certainly doesn't really sound like they [were] joking," says Glynnis MacNicol of Business Insider. And though it's not exactly "the most shocking news" that Fox takes it easy on Mama Grizzly, the initial "honesty is refreshing." In a way, this is inevitable, says Conor Friedersdorf at The Atlantic. People often favor their colleagues, "if only for the sake of collegiality and organizational cohesion." But Fox News is different because many of its paid commentators, like Palin, are not just "participants in America's public conversation about politics, but prominent players in the game itself." It's nice to see some Fox Newsers acknowledge this major conflict of interest, even if only briefly. See for yourself:
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How liberals are unwittingly paving the way for the legalization of adult incest
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Why the Chinese military is only a paper dragon
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- 10 things you need to know today: September 30, 2014
- Libertarianism's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad idea
- How the Simpsons/Family Guy crossover revealed the worst of both shows
- The troubling persistence of eugenicist thought in modern America
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- Are hedge funds doomed?
Subscribe to the Week