Former Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean on Sunday accused the Fox News Channel of being racist.
With the opening subject of "Fox News Sunday" being last week's controversial termination of Agriculture Department official Shirley Sherrod, Dean said, "I think Fox News did something that was absolutely racist. They took a, they had an obligation to find out what was really within the clip."
Dean continued, "They have been pushing a theme of black racism with this phony Black Panther crap and this, this business, and Sotomayor and all this other stuff...The Tea Party called out their racist fringe, and I think the Republican Party's got to stop appealing to its racist fringe."
That apparently was all host Chris Wallace could stand, for he struck back and struck back hard beginning with, "I know facts are inconvenient things, but let's try to deal with the facts" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
CHRIS WALLACE, HOST: Let me bring in Governor Dean, because the fact is...
HOWARD DEAN: Yeah, Chris, let's just...
WALLACE: Go ahead, sir.
DEAN: Let's just be blunt about this. I don't think Newt Gingrich is a racist and you're certainly not a racist, but I think Fox News did something that was absolutely racist. They took a, they had an obligation to find out what was really within the clip. They have been pushing a theme of black racism with this phony Black Panther crap and this, this business, and Sotomayor and all this other stuff. You, I think you got to be very, I think the, look, the Tea Party called out their racist fringe, and I think the Republican Party's got to stop appealing to its racist fringe. And Fox News is what did that. You put that on...
WALLACE: Wait, wait, wait wait...
DEAN: Yes, I think the Obama people...
WALLACE: I know facts are inconvenient...
WALLACE: I know facts are inconvenient things, but let's try to deal with the facts. The fact is that the Obama administration fired or forced Shirley Sherrod to quit before her name had ever been mentioned on Fox News Channel. Did you know that, sir?
DEAN: What I do know is that video came out --
WALLACE: Did you know that, that her name. Did you know that she was fired before her name was ever mentioned on the Fox News Channel?
DEAN: What about the video? Where did that play. What about the incomplete video?
WALLACE: The video had never played on the Fox News Channel before the White House fired her. It was on Andrew Breitbart BigGovernment.com. We're not responsible for them. I agree with you it was out of context, but it wasn't on Fox News so maybe you shouldn't be using the racist phrase either.
Wallace of course was correct. As NewsBusters reported Thursday, Fox's first report concerning Sherrod came well after the White House announced she was fired. But facts weren't stopping Dean on Sunday as they NEVER do:
DEAN: And it, and it was about to go on Glenn Beck which is what the administration was afraid of. Look, I think that, I think Newt's right. I don't think she, she should have been fired summarily and I think we ought to stop being afraid of Glenn Beck and the racist fringe of the Republican Party. But Fox News was not blameless during this. You played it up, and I, I don't know if ever there was a clip of a white farmer saying, "Wait a minute, this woman helped us save the farm." Did that ever appear on Fox News?
WALLACE: Actually, I don't know because I wasn't covering that part of the story. But we certainly, we certainly reported that part of the story. Now whether he was willing to appear. I haven't seen the white, the white farmer. I have seen his wife, I haven't seen him anywhere but that may be a mistake on my part. But let's get back to what you just said. The, the, the Obama White House fired her, the administration fired her for fear, not the reality, the fear that she was going to appear on Glenn Beck. Is that what, what Barack Obama campaigned for when said he was going to change the 24/7 media cycle? Is that the profile in corruption?
DEAN: I think that is wrong. I think, as, as you know, I've made a career standing up to that kind of stuff and I think that was a mistake on the part of the Obama administration. But I'm not going to let the right wing press off the hook on this.
WALLACE: Again, I mean, again in fact what are the facts here, sir? Because the facts, the facts are she was not on, she had never, her name had never been mentioned on the Fox News Channel until -- explain to me, why do you think the Obama administration, why do you think the Obama administration...
DEAN: And then, and then, Chris...
WALLACE: Let me ask my question and then you can answer. Why do you think the Obama White House administration fired her before she name ever appeared on Fox News?
If you think Dean was going to answer this great question, think again:
DEAN: Did you play, did Fox News play the clip that turned out to be inaccurate?
WALLACE: After she was fired.
DEAN: Right. I don't think it matters whether it was before or after.
And there it is. In the mind of Dean and his ilk, it doesn't matter that Sherrod was fired before Fox News filed a report on this subject.
As Charles Krauthammer marvelously said on Friday, "In the universe of my colleagues over here, the root of all evil is Fox, everything else is derivative."
Two days later, Dean was a walking billboard for this:
DEAN: The question is you played it, you didn't do your job. Not you personally of course, but the people who chose to play that clip. And there's been this ongoing theme about black racism in America. I agree with Newt, racism has no place in America whether it's black, white, Latino, or anything else. But I think continuing to cater to this theme of minority racism and stressing comments like this some of which are taken out of context does not help the country knit itself together.
Now enter former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich to really put the finishing touches on this masterpiece:
NEWT GINGRICH: If I could just a second, Howard, I just want to point out, the NAACP operating off the same clip and off the same action by Secretary of Agriculture also condemned her initially...
DEAN: I agree, that was wrong as well.
GINGRICH: And, and the NAACP has condemned the New Black Panthers as a racist organization. So, there, there in fact...
DEAN: I agree.
GINGRICH: I have on occasion sided with the NAACP's characterizations. All I'm suggesting, and I think it's very worrisome to people: If the Obama Administration is this afraid of Glenn Beck, how do they deal with the Iranians? I mean, if, if they a news show forces this level of...
DEAN: There may be some similarities, Newt. There may be some similarities.
GINGRICH: I'm just saying, if they're that frightened by an American TV show, how do they deal with the real world?
Well, Mr. Speaker, if the Iranians lobbed a nuclear device at Israel today, Dean and the entire liberal media would likely blame it on Fox News.