It was striking last week when Bernard Goldberg told Bill O’Reilly that right-leaning news sources, including FNC, tend to downplay stories that lefty outlets hype. Media writers and internet scribes pretended to be taken aback by such blunt criticism of FNC on FNC, but the segment, while striking, is not an outlier on the Fox News airwaves. We’ve seen it for years: Douglas Kennedy on Fox News Watch, Chris Wallace on Fox & Friends, Geraldo, Kirsten Powers and more…they’ve all dinged Fox with complaints about the coverage. And they’ve done so on Fox News’ air, while serving as Fox News employees. What’s more, they’re all still working at Fox News, speaking their minds and letting the chips fall where they may.
So Bernard Goldberg’s exchange with O’Reilly last week was just another in a long history of such FNC moments, yet it got the standard mock surprise reaction from the scribblers. Even Brian Stelter aired a clip (more like a clippette, it was so short) on Reliable Sources, murmuring something about “speaking truth to power” (way to not take sides, Brian) before segueing into the anti-FNC story of the day.
Now, fast forward to four days later. Bernard Goldberg is still a Fox contributor. He hasn’t been cashiered, or intimidated by a visit from Fox Security. He’s up again with Mr. O’Reilly. And what does Bill do? He gives Mr. Goldberg another segment to continue with the points he was making the week before! And Goldberg does so, going into matters like the tea party and Cliven Bundy. This is even more striking than the first time, because O’Reilly and Fox had a natural opportunity to discuss something else and instead let Goldberg expand on his critiques of Fox News.
Ask yourself, when was the last time you saw MSNBC or CNN let one of its employees go on the air, rip their coverage, and then be brought back to do it again? And do so on the highest-rated, most-watched program on their schedule, two weeks in a row? While you’re scratching your head over that one, ponder one more question: do you think the openness at Fox News to diverse viewpoints and even self-criticism might just have something to do with independents naming FNC their most trusted news source? Maybe Reliable Sources will look into that.