Yesterday, Russia launched a major military offensive against Georgia, which Georgia has called “a state of war.” Nearly two thousand people have died and the conflict risks sparking a wider war. Also yesterday, former senator John Edwards admitted to having an extramarital affair in 2006.
Fox News has decided which story is worthy of more coverage. Today, host Gregg Jarrett interviewed PBS’s Bonnie Erbe. “We have these huge stories going on like the one you’re reporting in Georgia,” Erbe noted when asked about Edwards. Jarrett, however, completely ignored Erbe’s comment on Georgia and continued to talk about Edwards, offering praise for the National Enquirer:
JARRETT: You know, his excuse for lying is absolutely stunning. He claims he denied the affair because the reporting by the National Enquirer was “99 percent wrong.” Well, so far, they’ve been about 100 percent right.
Throughout the segment, Jarrett refused to talk about anything except for Edwards’s affair:
ERBE: The American public have told pollsters, this political season they want substance. Both these candidates have expressed support for allowing Georgia into NATO. … We could have been on the verge of nuclear war. Those are the kinds of the things that the American public wants to see discussed.
JARRETT: Right. You know, but getting back to Edwards, during the Monica Lewinsky affair, Edwards absolutely ripped into Bill Clinton.
Erbe called the Edwards story “water cooler talk,” noting again that Edwards’s affair is “not the stuff the American public wants to hear about in this election cycle.” Again, Jarrett wholly ignored her, responding with more Edwards talk:
JARRETT: Well it’s amazing, he thought could get away with it, and if he had become the Democratic nominee, my goodness.
Of course, this is nothing new for Fox, which has a history of covering tabloid issues more than wars.
UPDATE: In a letter, Jarrett informs ThinkProgress:
Ms. Erbe was invited as a guest on our Saturday newscast to discuss John Edwards’ admission late Friday night that he had been lying to voters during his campaign for the presidency. She was not invited to discuss the Russian-Georgian conflict. And yet, she persisted in turning every question about Mr. Edwards into a discourse on Georgia and NATO. I tried repeatedly to steer the conversation back to Mr. Edwards, but Ms. Erbe seemed determined to hijack the interview to talk about Georgia. […]
The story posted by “Think Progress” states that Fox News decided the Edwards story “is worthy of more coverage” than Georgia. That is untrue. In our 90 minute newscast, we aired two “live” reports from our war correspondent in Tblisi, another “live” report from our correspondent in Moscow, and a lengthy interview with an international relations expert, Douglas Paal, of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The Georgia story was covered thoroughly before Ms. Erbe appeared on our air.