Politics

Wallace fires back: ‘I guess the joke is on Jon Stewart’

Last week, “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace interviewed Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart. And throughout the week, their exchange was analyzed and criticized, and some even chalked it up as a victory for Stewart because he supposedly exposed Fox News as some sort of tool of the right.

At the end of his “Fox News Sunday” program this week, Wallace had a response for Stewart. He clarified what Stewart considered a stunning admission by Wallace last week that Fox News offered “the other side of the story.” (Chris Wallace asks Michele Bachmann: ‘Are you a flake?’)

“Jon seemed to think that was a big deal that I said we tell the other side of the story,” Wallace said. “While I wish I had said the full story, here is what I meant. As we showed today, we don’t go easy on Republicans. But we try to provide a fuller perspective. For instance, pointing out the strengths and some of problems with Obamacare before anyone else did. But let me give you a classic example of what ‘fair and balanced’ means to me. After Hurricane Katrina, the mainstream media piled on FEMA for the failure to respond to the crisis. And the federal government did a lousy job. But it was Fox News that started reporting on the failure of the first responders — the city of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana — to help people. Yes, we reported FEMA’s problems, but we also told the other side of the story.”

Wallace also took on Stewart’s claim last week that Fox News viewers were the most uninformed news audience, noting in the process that “The Daily Show” viewers were actually more uninformed than the audience of at least two of Fox News’ most popular programs. To knock down Stewart’s contention, Wallace pointed to PolitiFact’s analysis of Stewart’s statement while also commenting on the suspect nature of one poll in determining what constituted an  “ill-informed” viewer.

“The Pulitzer Prize-winning website PolitiFact looked into [Stewart’s claim that Fox News viewers were the most uninformed] and on the truth meter it rated Jon’s claim false,” Wallace said. “The details are even more interesting. In a survey called misinformation in the 2010 election, people were asked a series of fact questions like, ‘Which president signed TARP?’ But the poll also asked questions like this: ‘As you know, the American economy had a major downturn the fall of 2008. Do you think that now the American economy is A: tarting to recover, or B: still getting worse?’ ‘Starting to recover’ was the so-called right answer. If you said ‘still getting worse’ you were officially misinformed. If you question whether climate change is occurring or whether Obamacare will add to deficit, you were also mistaken.

“Then there was last year’s Pew poll, which asked four fact questions like what job did Eric Holder have? It turns out Fox News scored better, not worse, than MSNBC, CNN, network evening news and the network morning news. As for individual shows, 31 percent of [Sean] Hannity viewers got all four questions correct, 29 percent for [Bill] O’Reilly. All the way down near the bottom: Viewers of Jon Stewart’s ‘Daily Show,’ at 22 percent. So, all the talk of, ‘You are the most consistently misinformed viewers’ — I guess the joke is on Jon Stewart.”