Chris Wallace, the boss would like to see you now.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=klzZxOat3mc]

Every once in awhile, someone on FOX News starts feeling a little dangerous and decides to actually do the news, just to see what it feels like to be a real reporter:

In an unexpectedly lively exchange on Fox News Sunday this morning, host Chris Wallace took on NRA head Wayne LaPierre for his group’s tasteless ad calling Obama an “elitist hypocrite” for having Secret Service protection for his daughters while opposing the placement of armed guards in every American school. “It wasn’t picking on the president’s kids,” LaPierre argued, somewhat futilely. “The president’s kids are safe and we’re all thankful for it.” When Wallace pointed out that “[Malia and Sasha] also face a threat that most people do not face,” LaPierre shot back: “Tell that to the people in Newtown!” But Wallace wasn’t buying the indignation. “Do you really think that the President’s children are the same kind of target as every schoolchild in America?” Wallace asked LaPierre, adding, “I think that’s ridiculous, and you know it, sir.”

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False equivalency and the White House: Obama becomes a media critic

From the newly released New Republic interview with the president, Obama had some thoughts on the prevailing practices of today’s political media:

One of the biggest factors is going to be how the media shapes debates. If a Republican member of Congress is not punished on Fox News or by Rush Limbaugh for working with a Democrat on a bill of common interest, then you’ll see more of them doing it…

The same dynamic happens on the Democratic side. I think the difference is just that the more left-leaning media outlets recognize that compromise is not a dirty word. And I think at least leaders like myself—and I include Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi in this—are willing to buck the more absolutist-wing elements in our party to try to get stuff done…

In fact, that’s one of the biggest problems we’ve got in how folks report about Washington right now, because I think journalists rightly value the appearance of impartiality and objectivity. And so the default position for reporting is to say, “A plague on both their houses.” On almost every issue, it’s, “Well, Democrats and Republicans can’t agree”—as opposed to looking at why is it that they can’t agree. Who exactly is preventing us from agreeing?

Meanwhile, in Real America…

 

…Fox News has suddenly discovered an existential crisis of corporate responsibility. Before you run around your house in circles, screaming randomly and tearing your hair out at the singular improbability of this development, fear not: the “victim,” in this case, is a military veteran.

There, there, it all makes sense now. After not-so-subtly taking the soldier’s side — this alone is newsworthy; I’d always thought Fox

News was “fair and balanced,” after all — the vaunted news network waits until the sixth paragraph to note:

Spirit has a hard-and-fast “no refund” rule for customers who don’t pay extra for insurance, and while company officials expressed sympathy for Meekins, they refuse to make an exception in his case.

While I can sympathize with a dying veteran’s last request (and that is the only non-tongue-in-cheek portion of this post), it is important to remember that the new conservative orthodoxy clearly states that “corporations are people, my friends.” Which necessarily implies that this soldier is just a deadbeat asking for handouts from hard-working Americans.

Of course, Peter Forbes, president of the Veterans of the Vietnam War and the Veterans Coalition, disagrees with my assessment. In fact, he stated:

“What would have happened if this patriotic American said “no” when called to serve his country? Life at Spirit Airlines might never happened,” the letter obtained by FoxNews.com reads.

Not to nitpick, but given the war in which he fought, I think it’s safe to say we’d all be OK. Not that this was his fault, but if we’re going to be hyperbolic about things, at least pick a good cause, please. I mean, this did make the front page of FoxNews.com. As we all know, this is an impossibly high bar to clear. There must have been at least four separate articles in the queue alternately comparing Obama to Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, and even Quagmire from Family Guy — and yet this thrilling narrative of an airline ticket snafu leapfrogged over all of them. But for the love of God, stop picking on my good friend Spirit Airlines. He’s a good people…my friend.

 

Key moments from last night’s debate

I didn’t get the chance to watch the Republican presidential debate on FOX last night, where it seems that Bret Baier and Chris Wallace did a great job of asking tough (if at times off-topic) questions. But I’ve caught up on the highlights and the reactions, and here are a few of what seemed like the important (or funny, or depressing) points to me.

1. When asked for a show of hands as to who would walk away from a budget deal that contained a 10-to-1 ratio of spending cuts to tax increases, every single one of the eight Republican candidates raised their hands. Every single one of them claimed to oppose a 10-to-1 deal on the grounds that it isn’t good enough. I don’t think the below video needs any additional commentary; it speaks for itself.

2. Ron Paul thoroughly schooled Rick Santorum on Iran. Santorum’s incoherent foreign policy was no match for Ron Paul’s common-sense advice to simply try to imagine putting oneself in Iran’s shoes, surrounded as it is by nuclear threats, to determine why it might be so interested (assuming that it is) in pursuing nuclear weapons capabilities.

3. Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann took the gloves off last night (something Pawlenty was accused of being unable or unwilling to do in relation to Mitt Romney and “Obamneycare” in the previous debate). While looking a little more feisty this time around, T-Paw nevertheless wasn’t able to do much damage, as Bachmann ably pivoted with some sharp-edged comebacks of her own. (It almost goes without saying that neither of the two showed even the slightest glimpses of ability to govern, preferring instead to boast of their uncompromising positions on everything, but such is the nature of the primaries, and especially so with today’s GOP.) I’m not certain what Bachmann achieves by going head-to-head with Pawlenty, though, since he’s possibly on the verge of being forced out due to lack of traction, and she’s running at or near the top in polls.

4. I’m a bit torn on this one: Far be it from me to agree with Newt Gingrich on anything, but he may have a point here. While I do think that Wallace and Baier largely seemed to do an admirable job of asking questions that voters wanted to hear, Gingrich was understandably (also, self-servingly) frustrated with questions that pertained more to campaign dynamics and gossip than actual policy positions. Given the frequent insanity on policy positions emanating from all the Republican candidates (Gingrich himself being perhaps the most notable in that regard), I can’t say I entirely disagree with his take on the questions.

5. Jon Huntsman. Whatever happened to this guy?