Today Erik Wemple of the Post published an odd column, making a peculiar point in an unpersuasive manner. In a nutshell, he tried to make a case for Hillary Clinton refusing to appear on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace:
So there isn’t much mystery as to why all those other presidential candidates have accepted the invitations of “Fox News Sunday” and Clinton has not: It’s because Clinton is covered more harshly, more persistently than those other candidates.
Mr. Wemple (with a healthy assist from Media Matters) cites a number of examples, including Andrea Tantaros on Outnumbered, Greg Gutfeld on The Five, and of course the obligatory jabs at Fox & Friends. But none of these examples have anything to do with Fox News Sunday or Chris Wallace. In fact, none involve Fox’s news coverage at all: they are entirely drawn from the opinion-based hours. But Wemple seems to think that’s a fair enough reason for Hillary not to face Chris Wallace.
This is unpersuasive on its face. The Cable Gamer recalls Erik Wemple chiding Republicans for canceling an NBC debate:
Apparently the RNC didn’t pay too much heed to the argument that CNBC and NBC News are overseen by different management teams…The RNC’s actions against NBC will have a leveling effect. Get ready for a lot of network cautiousness in the coming debates, because sponsors know what will happen if they don’t play by the rules, ill-defined as they are.
Everybody knows the hard news reporters at Fox News are not the opinion people. The antics of Andrea, or the jibes of Gutfeld, are separate from Bret Baier or Chris Wallace, who have no control over what opinionizers say or do. How has this become a plausible excuse for Hillary to avoid Fox when it wasn’t for the RNC in an analogous situation?
Even more on point, here is Erik Wemple on the subject of Donald Trump excluding reporters:
Journalists who’ve written or spoken critically about him have received swift payback. Reporters for the Huffington Post, Buzzfeed and Fusion TV network have been banned from his events at various times. Univision’s Jorge Ramos and Gabriel of the New York Times have been ejected during his events. Reporters for the Des Moines Register, the largest newspaper in the first caucus state, were banned by Trump after its editorial board called for him to drop out of the race in July (the editorial’s headline: “Trump should pull the plug on his bloviating side show”). The ban made little sense on its face; news reporters have no control over their newspaper’s opinion pages, and vice versa.
So there Mr. Wemple argued the separation between news and opinion to attack Trump for excluding a reporter. But today Mr. Wemple, in an unexplained about-face, ignores the separation between news and opinion to defend Hillary for excluding a reporter—without a single example of that reporter’s unfairness. Wemple knows Chris Wallace has no say over Fox’s opinion shows, yet inexplicably adopts an argument that just a few weeks ago “made little sense.”
The Cable Gamer realizes that in the storied corridors of the Post Hillary is highly regarded and Trump is not. And it’s a lot easier to defend a like-minded mainstream newspaper than those upstarts at Fox News. But what else would account for the double standard?