Ethics Hero: Fox News Anchor Chris Wallace

It has come to this: a journalist doing his job properly and meeting his professional duties now qualifies as exemplary conduct.

To hear the White House tell it,Fox News is nothing but a shill for conservative positions and anti-Obama criticism. This has always been an exaggeration, but especially so with regard to the Fox starting line-up of news anchors—Chris Wallace, Shepard Smith, Greta Van Susteran, Bret Baier and Megyn Kelly, who are generally fair and professional. Wallace is the best of the lot, and showed why in an interview with Wayne LaPierre, the National Rifle Association’s  CEO who has been the group’s public face during the post-Sandy Hook gun control debate.

Wallace raised the ill-conceived NRA  advertisement that criticized President Obama as a hypocrite for not supporting the NRA’s proposal to have armed guards in schools, while sending his own daughters to a private school that has exactly that.

“They also face a threat that most children do not face,” Wallace said, making the obvious distinction between the  daughters of the President and the average student. “Tell that to the people in Newtown,” was LaPierre’s facile response.

“You really think that the president’s children are the same kind of target as every other school child in America?” Wallace said, eyebrow arching right off his forehead. “That’s ridiculous and you know it, sir.”

This wasn’t a Piers Morgan, “You’re a stupid, stupid man!” rejoinder, but the fair and tough commentary of a journalist serving the public interest rather than his employer’s agenda or his audience’s biases. First Wallace clearly explained why La Pierre’s argument was absurd, and called it what it was. Imagine how often a similar “That’s ridiculous and you know it” response from a journalist when an interview subject spewed manipulative and disingenuous nonsense was called for, and how seldom we hear it:

“The great story here for anybody willing to find it and write about it and explain it is this vast right-wing conspiracy that has been conspiring against my husband since the day he announced for president.”

“That’s ridiculous and you know it.”

Or…

“You know, how do we get to the point where 85 percent of the children in the world that are killed with guns are killed in the United States.”

“That’s ridiculous and you know it.”

Wallace will catch hell for this, from the blogosphere, on Twitter, from his Fox News audience and possibly his bosses. I’m sure he expects it. For once a journalist who was expected to have an ideological agenda showed that he had a professional agenda instead: Seek the truth, be objective, have integrity, do the job.

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Source: Slate

20 thoughts on “Ethics Hero: Fox News Anchor Chris Wallace

  1. If President Obama sends his kids to a school that already had armed guards, it means the school employed those guards before the Obama kids became students.

    The counter-question is “were the other children at the school the same kind of target as every other school child in America?”

    • Which is not what LaPierre said. The school has the sons and daughters of many rich and famous Washingtonians who would be obvious targets of kidnapping schemes and other attacks.Their security choices are irrelevant.

      • He certainly comes off as petty exemplifying the Obama children, he may even ignore the necessity of safeguarding the obvious targets that our Government official’s children present to enemies foreign and domestic when making such a claim.

        But just because the children of the wealthy and famous have more likely need to be safeguarded from criminals, terrorists, or others, ought those of us who are non-wealthy and anonymous be content that their children be exposed to sociopaths (however unlikely these occurrences be)?

        • Yes, because it IS so unlikely. The mentality that the government has to protect us (or force the private sector to protect us) from the most unlikely scenarios because they might happen once in a blue moon is obscenely expensive, wastes time and costs consumers and businesses many millions each year, probably billions. This is Tylenol and packaging, or all the warnings about poisoned Halloween candy (“Check your children’s candy before they eat any!”) on a grand scale. The children of the rich and famous are celebrities and targets, and cannot be compared fairly to children who are neither.

          • Those are certainly concerns if a dichotomy is established between federal govt providing a solution callig for full time specialist security fuards and no one providing a solution.

          • Wallace is correct and LaPierre is doing a poor job for the NRA. The President’s children are at a great risk, much higher than most other children on an individual basis. However to say measures to protect those “unlikely” anonymous kids who have been killed and injured recently should not be considered because it would be obscenely expensive is absurd. There is no reason that it needs to be expensive, that is part of the idea of training and arming persons already hired and in place at the school. Where LaPierre should have gone with it is to point out that Presidents children are protected by armed, verses unarmed Secret Service Agents because guns are effective when defending people. Where the comparison can and should be made between high value targets and those anonymous kids is what makes a target attractive and what security is effective. The government vulnerability assessments to determine how attractive a target is to a given threat, this helps minimize cost by addressing the vulnerabilities. Almost all security measures can be defeated but in this day and age the level of difficulty in defeating security generally has more to do with target selection then the target itself. Just the knowledge of a school allowing teachers to be armed will make that school less attractive to an attack then a school that does not. Even randomizing increased security at schools within a district would keep costs low and increase security exponentially. TSA may be hated and inefficient, but its very existence protects against attacks via commercial air. There is no such thing as an invulnerable target but there are hard targets and most hard targets are more about perception then reality.

              • I hardly think that anyone is blaming Obama or any other prominent and/or rich person from sending his children to a well-protected school. That isn’t the issue. It’s that Obama would deny others the right to provide protections for their children, as well. You may well argue that prominent people’s children are at greater risk. But that does not obviate the risk to other children by any means, as we have seen with increasing and heartbreaking regularity. I see this as an issue of hypocrisy, elitism and using children’s lives as pawns in a political power game. If the average father is required by law to send his children to public schools and pay taxes for the privilege, he should absolutely have the right to expect that his kids- as precious to him as anyone’s- not only have a good education, but are well safeguarded against murderous lunatics. The only way this can be accomplished is by active, not passive defense measures. LaPierre had it right.

  2. Not to mention that Sidwell Friends does not actually have any armed guards employed by the school. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/01/18/no-sidwell-friends-school-has-no-armed-guards/

    The National Rifle Association is airing a television ad (and has on its website this four-minute video) that says the private school that President Obama’s daughters attend, Sidwell Friends School, has 11 armed guards. It doesn’t.

    In fact, it has no armed guards. My Post colleague Glenn Kessler, who writes The Fact Checker column, wrote about the issue here and quoted Ellis Turner, associate head of Sidwell Friends, as saying: “Sidwell Friends security officers do not carry guns.”

    Parents and students say they have never seen one either.

    • It wouldn’t matter if they did…the NRA’s argument is nonsense. Meanwhile, Sidwell and its kids were better off with everyone thinking it DID have armed guards. After my English Mastiff had been dead for two years, a police woman told me that the word around the neighbor hood was that we had a huge, vicious (Patience was a pussycat) dog and we would be the last house to be burglarized. I guess I should have put out an ad that said, “This is a myth–this address has no such dog.”

  3. Haha, our Flatcoat has the same reputation. In a place where 70-80% of pet dogs are Yorkies, Dachshunds, and Chihuahuas, a 70 pound black dog is by default ‘that scary black dog’. 😀

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