On her excellent blog GretaWire, Fox News host Greta Van Susteren yesterday ripped a New York Times editorial board member for his tweets ripping Fox News for Monday’s outrage on “Fox & Friends,” when co-hosts Brian Kilmeade and Steve Doocy joked about the Ray Rice domestic abuse situation. After discussing new footage of Rice striking his then-fiancee in a hotel elevator, Kilmeade quipped, “I think the message is, take the stairs.” Doocy chimed in, “The message is when you’re in an elevator, there’s a camera.”
As noted by Mediaite’s Eddie Scarry, the Times’s Jesse Wegman wrote on his Twitter account, “Fox is welfare system for otherwise unemployable jacka–es.”
Van Susteren, who hosts the evening program “On the Record,” took exception to Wegman’s comment.
The writer has a beef with one – apparently just one – of my colleagues so he attacks the entire network of thousands of employees. That’s what bigots do — they generalize. They have prejudice against an entire group.
He obviously has not watched ON THE RECORD at 7pm — as I have taken a hard line about Ray Rice’s domestic violence. Or if he has watched, he ignored what I have said as it did not fit in his generalized (bigoted) narrative.
Bold, italics and underline in original Van Susteren screed — and they are tell-tale signs of a rift within Fox News over the Kilmeade-Doocy clown-time moment. Though the ostensible target of Van Susteren’s ire is some guy from the New York Times, she is attacking Kilmeade-Doocy as well. There is a very patent refusal to stand behind what they did, much less to support how they addressed the matter on Tuesday morning. Kilmeade told viewers, “Comments that we made during this story yesterday made some feel like we were taking the situation too lightly. We are not. We were not. Domestic abuse is a very serious issue to us, I can assure you.”
So Van Susteren’s preference is that Wegman limit his outburst as follows: “Brian Kilmeade is an unemployable jacka–.” That’s a narrow-minded quibble. When Kilmeade and Doocy were dishing out their stupidity, the icon on the lower-left corner of the screen said “Fox News.” Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade both have bios on the Fox News Web site; they are fully empowered to represent the network. They’re not freelancers or contractors or guest commentators but rather full-timers. They are Fox News, whether Van Susteren likes it or not.
We in the media live with this compact. When one journalist at The Post screws up or says something objectionable, critics will short-hand the situation as “The Washington Post is terrible” or some such.
Fox News’s management had its opportunity to declare that the Kilmeade-Doocy moment didn’t represent the rest of Fox News. It could have issued a statement saying that the remarks were awful and regrettable and do not represent the values of the network. It didn’t do so. Until it does, gripes like Van Susteren’s fall flat.