Fox News Channel’s Beckel and Gutfeld: We Go Easy on Sarah Palin Because She Works for FNC

By Alex Weprin 

Update: Gutfeld and Beckel tell the AP that they were just joking.

“It was clearly a joke” that should be apparent to anyone who watches “Red Eye,” Gutfeld said, though failing to note that it isn’t exactly clear how many regular viewers of “Red Eye,” which airs at 3 AM ET, are also likely to be watching FNC at 5 PM ET.

Original story: On Fox News Channel’s “The Five” yesterday, host Greg Gutfeld and analyst Bob Beckel acknowledged that former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin gets treated a little bit differently than other public figures, thanks to the fact thate she is also paid member of the Fox News team.

“The only problem with talking about Sarah Palin is that she works here, and it’s like a coworker. And if I say something bad and I see her in the hallway I feel really awkward and wrong. So I just kind of say, ‘that was a good job,’” Gutfeld said.

His point was echoed by Beckel:

“It has everything to do with your paycheck. That’s why you feel awkward,” Beckel said. “I know exactly what you mean. I’ll be honest, I’ve pulled my punches.”

The comments made by Beckel and Gutfeld typify a problem facing the politically-focused cable news channels. Anchors, hosts and analysts are tasked with talking about public political figures, but more and more of those figures are becoming hosts and analysts themselves.

If an analyst or host is not a public figure, they may have to hold back criticism of their more-famous colleagues, or else face the wrath of executives at the channel, or the public figure themselves.

You can watch video of the exchange at Mediaite.