Yesterday on Imus in the Morning, Imus and his guest, America's Newsroom co-anchor Martha MacCallum, rehashed the usual argument Fox employees trot out when they want to insulate the network's supposed "journalists" (like MacCallum) from accusations of partisanship -- that there exists a firm line between the network's "news" and "opinion" programming.
During the discussion, Imus praised MacCallum and her co-host Bill Hemmer, saying that there is "no editorializing at all" on their show. While attacking the partisanship of other networks, MacCallum said, "a lot of people are sort of brainwashed into believing that line of thinking that we're not fair and balanced, and everybody else is."
MacCallum explained that "during the daytime, we try to shoot as straight we possibly can. Everybody is a human being -- there's going to be times when your feelings about something enter a discussion."
MacCallum's claim echoed comments made by Bill Hemmer last year, when he told TVNewser that the opinions of Fox's right-wing primetime hosts don't carry over into America's Newsroom because "our broadcast, with Martha MacCallum and me, we shoot it down the middle."
Setting aside the larger problems with Fox's supposedly unimpeachable "news hours" -- complicated by things like having a Washington managing editor that orders network journalists to routinely cast doubt on climate science -- America's Newsroom often resembles Fox's "opinion" shows. While MacCallum suggests her and Hemmer's "feelings about something" only occasionally enter the discussion, they both have a record of echoing GOP talking points, and MacCallum has even flatly endorsed conservative policies.
For a characteristic example, after the release of President Obama's jobs plan in September, MacCallum kicked off Fox's "news" attacks on the plan, echoing the immediate GOP spin. During an interview with Rep. Robert Andrews (D-NJ), MacCallum trotted out the familiar, misleading talking point that the first stimulus plan "didn't work" and asked "why should everyone be convinced that this time it will work."
MacCallum's "feelings about something" are often far more overt.
Last November, when covering Social Security reform, MacCallum stated that "we need to raise the age at which you can get" Social Security and also suggested Obama should come out and say, "let's consider investment accounts for younger people." More recently, she's been defending Rick Perry's assertion that Social Security is a "Ponzi scheme."
MacCallum has told viewers that, like the old "Just Say No" to drugs pins, "we should have...Just Say No to more spending" pins. She has also compared America to a "drunk who finally hits bottom" in regards to budget deficits.
In July, MacCallum lamented America's pesky social safety net, without which we'd be in a "much better, stronger fiscal position" to "handle those things like the two wars."
Before MacCallum joined America's Newsroom, she was host of The Live Desk. During an interview in March 2009 with Rep. Michele Bachmann, Bachmann said that Obama's proposals constitute a "lurch toward socialism," to which MacCallum responded, "I think you're absolutely right about that."
What's more, "straight" news reporter MacCallum has frequently filled in on Fox's opinion shows. She guest-hosted for On the Record with Greta Van Susteren earlier this week, and has co-hosted Fox & Friends. It's hard to assert an inviolate division between "news" and "opinion" when you cross it with such ease.
Of course, cohost Bill Hemmer is not much better, and the problems with America's Newsroom as a straight news show predate MacCallum's move to the program.
Back in 2009, when Fox News was devoting much of their programming -- of both the "news" and "opinion" varieties -- to promoting the fledgling tea party movement, America's Newsroom was no exception.
Here's Bill Hemmer interviewing a tea party leader on April 7, 2009. Hemmer (and on-screen text) plugged the tea parties that were planned for April 15, and directed viewers to the America's Newsroom website, where "you can log on and see if there's an event in your area coming any time soon." (That list can still be found here.)