I count Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace among the fairest and most incisive interviewers in the business, and hope his tenure at Fox News is a long one. Anyone who can relentlessly cross-exam Mitt Romney on his changed position on abortion the way Wallace did a while back, then turn around and have Bill Clinton near the point of taking a poke at him, is doing his job and playing no favorites. But should Wallace ever wish a change of venue, never fear: MSNBC apparently can find a place for him.
Wallace made some news when, appearing on this past Friday's Fox & Friends, he criticized the hosts for dwelling longer than Chris thought appropriate on Obama's comment that his grandmother was a "typical white person."
On this evening's Hardball, Chris Matthews devoted a segment to the exchange. Eugene Robinson, the affable WaPo columnist and MSNBC political analyst, suggested that refuge awaited Wallace should he need it.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: I want everybody to watch a bit of tape from last Friday's Fox & Friends, that's the early-morning program on the Fox channel, where the news host, of course Chris Wallace, our colleague, chastises the hosts of the program.
Cut to Fox & Friends clip.
CHRIS WALLACE: I love you guys, but I want to take you to task if I may respectfully for a moment. I have been watching the show since six o'clock this morning when I got up and it seems to me that two hours of Obama-bashing on this "typical white person" remark is somewhat excessive and frankly I think you're somewhat distorting what Obama had to say. I just was unhappy with what you were doing today.
STEVE DOOCY: Well, in all fairness to the Fox & Friends show, you did 20-some-odd hits and obviously you missed a lot of our dialogue.
WALLACE: Well, I heard enough of it.
Wallace's criticism of FNC's treatment of Matthews' hero Obama naturally thrilled the Hardball host.
MATTHEWS: I have to say, that's one of those rare moments, Norah and you guys, that I have seen in politics or in journalism where somebody really says "I don't like the way this is going. It's not that I don't like a remark. I don't like this whole programming. I think this is bashing of Barack over something that's arguable, controversial. It's not -- the subject of a denunciation or shouldn't be. What did you make of it? It was where he said --
That's when Robinson made his offer of asylum.
EUGENE ROBINSON: As a columnist I can say yea!, Chris, good for you. I'm sure we can find exile for you, sanctuary somewhere if it gets too rough over at --
MATTHEWS: You mean he may be chased away from Fox?
ROBINSON: From Fox, yeah.
I wonder if Matthews would similarly applaud a fellow MSNBCer taking Keith Olbermann to task for his unrelenting, over-the-top, you're-a-bunch-of-fascists attacks on the Bush administration? And if Olbermann ever were chased from MSNBC, where else in the media do you think he might find refuge?