Chris Wallace On Keith Olbermann, and An Admission from John Moody

By Chris Ariens 

It was Fox News’ turn in front of the TV critics this afternoon, and the network known for playing a tough offense, found itself on the defense over one of its analysts and some recent on air controversies.

On the panel, FNC’s VP news editorial John Moody, Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace and two of FNC’s political analysts: Karl Rove and Howard Wolfson.

An insider tells TVNewser, “TCA panels can get testy, but the Fox News panel was especially so. Rove was the target of many questions, some of which had little to do with his appearances on Fox including the congressional subpoena before congress. It only got worse from there.”

B&C’s Marisa Guthrie writes about Wallace coming to Rove’s defense. “I’m struck by what I think is a double standard in the questions that particularly Karl is being asked here,” said Wallace. “I question whether if it were a conservative Congress that had subpoenaed James Carville, lets say, whether you’d be asking CNN why they’re (employing) James Carville.”

Guthrie writes, “Wallace’s remark was greeted with loud disagreement from multiple critics in the room who asserted that they would be asking the same questions if the political roles were reversed.”

The LATimes’ Matea Gold writes about a rare admission from Moody about FNC’s competition, “Well, there’s been tightening, obviously. We’ve certainly been tested in the last year. And I think we’ve emerged from it. I think we’ve gotten past the worst of the test.”

On the issue of the photoshopped New York Timesmen, Moody later told Guthrie he “wished” Fox & Friends “hadn’t done it. They didn’t ask me first.” But he said the incident will not result in any official standards adjustments. Moody told the assembled press that the morning program is “an entertainment show that does some news.”

And what about the criticism Fox News gets? Chris Wallace has thoughts about that…

Gold writes, “Wallace took umbrage at the amount of criticism that Fox News fields. “I think sometimes there’s a double standard here,” he said. “I think that MSNBC in its coverage of this campaign went so far over the line in terms of being in the tank for Barack Obama that it lost a lot of credibility. And for all the criticism that we sometimes get for allowing our politics to infuse our journalism, the fact is, there’s something of a firewall on Fox.”

In her story, Guthrie explains that firewall. Wallace “singled out Olbermann for blurring the line between pundit and dispassionate observer for his conflicting roles as Countdown host and election coverage anchor.”

“You have the straight news reporters anchoring the election coverage and not someone like Keith Olbermann, who was delivering ten minute screeds against President Bush, telling him to ‘shut the hell up,’ telling Hillary Clinton to get out of the campaign — which I think is fine if he wants to say those things, let him say them,” Wallace said, adding, “It’s an interesting show. I sometimes watch it myself. But then don’t go on and anchor the coverage as a so-called objective anchor. There’s a reason why Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity don’t anchor the election coverage. Our feeling is that opinion makers should live with their opinions and the journalists should cover the news.”