Frank on "fair and balanced" Fox News Sunday: "Chris, you have an odd view of balance"

››› ››› RYAN CHIACHIERE

Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace asked three Democratic members of Congress a series of questions that led to a rebuke from one, Rep. Barney Frank, who accused Wallace of having "an odd view of balance," "looking to pick fights where there aren't," and putting him and the two other guests "in a kind of a bad light."

On the November 26 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace asked three Democratic members of Congress a series of questions that led to a rebuke from one, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), who accused Wallace of having "an odd view of balance" and "trying to find points of controversy." Frank suggested that Wallace had tried to put him and the two other guests, Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) and Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) "in a kind of a bad light and look at the most controversial and not very representative things that we plan to do."

Earlier in the segment, Frank said that Wallace was "looking to pick fights where there aren't" after Wallace asked whether repealing the "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays in the military would be "exactly the kind of inflammatory fight the Democrats want to avoid at this point."'

Wallace's questions before Frank's rebuke included the following:

  • "Well, gentlemen, we hear a lot of talk from the left wing of your party that after 12 years out of power, they want to see House Democrats push a strong liberal agenda for the next two years. Congressman Frank, do you view that as part of your job, to resist that pressure and to govern from the center?"
  • "Congressman Dingell, how do you respond, though, to liberals who say, 'Look, we stayed with the party when a lot of other people left. Now when it comes to raising taxes on the wealthy or abortion and gay rights, it's our time'?"
  • "Congressman Frank, you said recently that you would like to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays in the military. Isn't that exactly the kind of inflammatory fight the Democrats want to avoid at this point?"
  • "Congressman Rangel, the Congressional Black Caucus says it's 100 percent behind [Rep.] Alcee Hastings [D-FL]. Are you behind Alcee Hastings to be chairman of the House intel committee?"
  • "Congressman Frank, you were quite honest. You said that [House Speaker-designate Nancy] Pelosi's [D-CA] effort to put [Rep. John] Murtha [D-PA] in as her No. 2, John Murtha, over [Rep.] Steny Hoyer [D-MD], was, as you put it, an error in judgment. Would it be an error in judgment to name Alcee Hastings to the House intel committee?"

The November 27 edition of The New York Sun noted the exchange and reported that Frank said afterward that "Fox is by far the most biased news medium in which I ever get involved." In response to Frank's rebuke, Wallace said, "Well, let me see if I can do better, Congressman Frank." Indeed, according to the Sun article, "Mr. Frank said Mr. Wallace's questions improved after the on-air criticism."

From the November 26 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday:

WALLACE: Well, gentlemen, we hear a lot of talk from the left wing of your party that after 12 years out of power, they want to see House Democrats push a strong liberal agenda for the next two years. Congressman Frank, do they -- do you view that as part of your job, to resist that pressure and to govern from the center?

[...]

WALLACE: Congressman Dingell, how do you respond, though, to liberals who say, "Look, we stayed with the party when a lot of other people left. Now, when it comes to raising taxes on the wealthy or abortion and gay rights, it's our time"?

[...]

WALLACE: Congressman Frank, you said recently that you would like to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays in the military. Isn't that exactly the kind of inflammatory fight the Democrats want to avoid at this point?

FRANK: Well, it's not something that would happen at first. But no, I don't think it's inflammatory to say that the young men and women ought to be able to join the military. I think, Chris, that you're looking to pick fights where there aren't. As I said, our first efforts are going to be to do those things that I think the mainstream of America very much wants.

[...]

WALLACE: Congressman Rangel, the Congressional Black Caucus says it's 100 percent behind Alcee Hastings. Are you behind Alcee Hastings to be chairman of the House intel committee?

[...]

WALLACE: Congressman Frank, you were quite honest. You said that Pelosi's effort to put Murtha in as her No. 2, John Murtha, over Steny Hoyer, was, as you put it, an error in judgment. Would it be an error in judgment to name Alcee Hastings to the House Intel Committee?

FRANK: No, I don't think so, although, Chris, I've got to say, Chris, you have an odd view of balance. I've just been listening, and every single question you asked, none of -- you said it's to see what the Democrats are going to be like. We were all prepared to talk about a very positive agenda we have in tax fairness, in environmental concerns, in housing, and, of course, all of your questions have been aimed at trying to find points of controversy, which are not going to be high on our agenda.

Now, having said that, I would say this. Alcee Hastings has served in the Congress for a long time since the events that were the cause of the impeachment. I think he's entitled to be judged on how those have worked. People do make mistakes. You know, I see Newt Gingrich listed as a Republican presidential candidate. He was twice reprimanded by the House of Representatives ethics committee for misbehavior, so when things have happened far in the past and people have had a different record, I think we can look at it.

But again, I am struck by the tenor of your questions. You advertise this as giving us a chance to talk about what we're going to do, but everything is aimed at trying to put us in a kind of a bad light and look at the most controversial and not very representative things that we plan to do.

WALLACE: Well, let me see if I can do better, Congressman Frank. Let's do a series of questions about some various issues that will come up before your committee.

Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel, FOX Broadcasting Company
Person
Chris Wallace
Show/Publication
FOX News Sunday
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