Chris Wallace Offered Political Asylum On Hardball

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?

Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.