Tom Ricks' bit of impromptu media criticism on Fox News over their Benghazi coverage, for which the Pulitzer-winning national security journalist had his interview cut short, was a rare thing to see. Self-criticism doesn't often happen on Fox airwaves, and they insist against all evidence that they play it straight and "have no agenda." But what makes Ricks' commentary especially noteworthy is the fact that the anchor who cut Ricks' interview short, Jon Scott, is himself Fox News' resident media critic.
Scott hosts the weekly program Fox News Watch, which approaches every media story from the premise that the media are liberally biased and, to borrow from Ricks, "a wing of the Democratic Party."
To give just a taste of how Fox News Watch does business, here's the intro to the November 10 edition, the first post-election show:
Scott asked if "media cheerleading" helped President Obama win reelection, whacked the "liberal press" for "tak[ing] shots" at Karl Rove and Fox News for their embarrassing election night squabble over Ohio, asked if the Obama second term will be "four more years of a media love fest," and suggested that CBS News helped the White House "hide the truth" about Benghazi. Then he introduced his panel: two conservative pundits (Cal Thomas and Jim Pinkerton), one disgraced former journalist (Judith Miller), and Kirsten Powers.
Scott's broad-ranging set of allegations put just about every sector of the media in the tank for the Democrats and specifically indicted one outlet for assisting in a White House cover-up (a cover-up for which there is no evidence). Meanwhile, Tom Ricks told Jon Scott that on one story Fox News has been pulling weight for the GOP, and he got thrown off the air, called "rude," and had his "strength of character" questioned by network brass.
One thing you can be sure of is that, in keeping with the moratorium on self-criticism, Scott and Fox News Watch will approach the Ricks fiasco in one of two ways: ignore it, as they've so often done with the Fox News' and News Corp.'s various and sundry ethical lapses; or cast themselves as the wrongly maligned victim of the "liberal media."