Daily Show's Stewart Grills Bret Baier On Fox's Purported Division Between News And Opinion
On the March 24 edition of Comedy Central's The Daily Show, host Jon Stewart grilled Fox News Special Report host Bret Baier (an extended version of which was posted on the Daily Show webslte). Stewart raised numerous questions about Fox's conservative leanings and how the conservative agenda permeates even hard news.
In the first segment, Stewart called Baier a "human shield," "the guy they use - whenever you start to criticize them about any of their programming, they're like, 'Are you saying Bret Baier is not a good guy? Are you saying Bret Baier is not a good journalist?" When Baier responded that there's a line between news and opinion and that "we respect the viewers' ability to discern the difference between the two," Stewart responded to the audience's laughter at Baier's statement, "The viewers protest."
In the second segment, Stewart likened Fox News correspondents to "the guys that the online university tosses out to keep their accreditation, like, 'Those guys went to college,' " adding that Fox's "main thrust" is not news, but that news is "somewhat of a cover for a more political operation that exists underneath." When Baier responded by touting Fox's high ratings, Stewart said, "I was not aware that ratings equaled quality. ... I am going to reassess my feelings about the show Three's Company." Stewart went on to tell Baier, "The narrative, the conservative political narrative, weaves its way into almost everything that you guys do, and I am sort of surprised that you couldn't at least go, 'Well, yeah.'" Baier responded by again insisting that he believed that Fox's news product is "not opinion driven." Stewart then played clips of softball questions Baier asked President Bush, followed by harsh questions he asked President Obama.
In the final segment, Stewart expressed surprise that Baier didn't admit that Fox News is a creature of Roger Ailes' view that there's a dearth of conservative opinion in the media marketplace. Baier claimed once more that news and opinion are separate. Stewart pointed out "the way Fox frames -- even their hard news is framed through a prism of this more conservative ideology. If you watch Fox, you would think the greatest threat to the country is ACORN, the Black Panthers, and Fannie Mae." Stewart then invited Baier to sit with him and watch an entire day of Fox News. Baier said that "most of the Fox haters" haven't watched his or Shepard Smith's shows. Stewart concluded by noting that an NPR employee was fired for saying "terrible things" about tea party activists, while "Roger Ailes said, on record, NPR are Nazis. Doesn't that strike you as odd?"