There are two hard and fast rules, as I understand it, for quickly ending a broadcast interview: when a dog begins barking or when a baby starts crying. Apparently, you can add criticizing Fox News for being a “wing of the Republican party” to that list.
When you do that, you can count on a just over one minute of air time. (It was actually ~1:20 if you count the introduction guest Tom Ricks received from host Jon Scott.)
Here’s the story with video, from Erik Wemple of the Washington Post.com website:
What happens when you agree to come on Fox News and then proceed to hammer the network for serving as a “wing of the Republican Party?”
Answer: You don’t stay on the air too long.
Military expert Tom Ricks chatted today with Fox’s Jon Scott about the Benghazi situation. Ricks was asked about how Sen. John McCain appears to be backing off of his criticism of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, who made some much-criticized statements about Benghazi in a series of Sept. 16 interviews.
Ricks: “I think that Benghazi generally was hyped by this network especially …” Scott fought back, contesting the hype allegation, drawing this return volley from Ricks: “How many security contractors died in Iraq, do you know?” Scott didn’t know, but the point was hanging right there — Benghazi was a “firefight,” contended Ricks.
Then came Ricks’s comment about Fox serving as a “wing” of the GOP, and Scott had had enough: End of interview.
Contacted about the whole thing, Ricks, a former Washington Post reporter, responded that he’d expected to spend about five minutes on Fox’s air, as opposed to the less-than-two minutes he ended up spending. Here are Ricks’s thoughts on the appearance:
I had told the producer before I went on that I thought the Benghazi story had been hyped. So it should have been no surprise when I said it and the anchor pushed back that I defended my view.
I also have been thinking a lot about George Marshall, the Army chief of staff during World War II, and one of the heroes of my new book. He got his job by speaking truth to power, and I have been thinking that we all could benefit by following his example as much as we can.
After I went off the air I saw some surprised faces in the hallway. One staff person said she thought I had been rude. My feeling was that they asked my opinion and I gave it.
In my humble opinion, a news gathering organization that has any apparent political agenda cannot serve as a truly impartial voice in reporting said news. How can you trust anything they report on, without wondering how much was filtered out that the organization didn’t agree with?
Media outlets, as they are now called (newspapers and printed media, TV, radio and Internet websites) are often referred to as having a “liberal” or “conservative” bias. This should only mean that the editorial policy of such outlets would take on that political outlook. Reporting the NEWS should not reflect that same outlook.
It is unethical and irresponsible to cut short an interview with any individual just because that person might or does disagree with you or your media company’s views.
Those who have supported Fox News and have spoken out loudly against suggestions that the network has a strong conservative bias–what say you now?
The best way for any media outlet to handle such a situation is to continue the interview as planned, and to resist the urge to get into an argument with the interview subject. This suggestion makes you at least appear to be objective, even if behind the cameras you aren’t.
This is especially true for a media outlet that has the word “news” in its name.
By cutting off a individual who disagrees with you, you just reinforce the stereotype–fair or not–that your organization has a strong political bias.
To quote Ralph Waldo Emerson, “What you are speaks so loudly, I can’t hear what you are saying.”