This morning on Fox News Sunday, Republican presidential candidate Sen. Fred Thompson (R-TN) charged “that Fox News is biased against his campaign, charging that the network highlights commentators who have been critical of his run for the presidency.”
After Fox aired clips of Fred Barnes and Charles Krauthammer attacking Thompson’s candidacy, Thompson responded, “This has been a constant mantra of Fox, to tell you the truth.” “I don’t know that Fox has been going after you,” host Chris Wallace asserted. Thompson told Wallace, “You have the right to put in your one side, and put in the Fox side, and I have the right to respond to it.”
Fox News has been accused of having a bias in favor of presidential contender Rudy Giuliani, particularly in the wake of allegations by former book publisher Judith Regan, who claimed NewsCorp wanted to protect Giuliani’s presidential aspirations.
WALLACE: Well, can I just — may I just finish my question? Then you can say what you want. It’s not just the numbers. I want to show you what two conservative commentators had to say about your campaign this week. Here it is.
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FRED BARNES, WEEKLY STANDARD: It’s the wrong message and a weak messenger. Other than those two things, it’s a great campaign.
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CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, COLUMNIST: Thompson offers the folksy manner of a consistent conservative, but there’s not anything there. And in the absence of something, he can’t win.
(END VIDEO CLIP) WALLACE: Senator, I suspect you’ve gotten a few bad reviews for movies or T.V. shows in the past, but that’s pretty tough stuff. How do you respond?
THOMPSON: Yes. It’s a lot of the same kind of stuff that I heard when I first ran for office, when I was 20 points down. And fortunately, I wound up 20 points ahead on election night.
This has been a constant mantra of Fox, to tell you the truth. And I saw the promo for this bill, and I think it was kind of — for this show, and it was kind of featuring the New Hampshire poll.
Let’s put things in context a little bit, to start with.
WALLACE: Well, I don’t know that — — I mean, I don’t know that Fox has been going after you, and I certainly don’t think Charles Krauthammer and Fred Barnes…
THOMPSON: From day one, they said I got in too late, I couldn’t do it.
WALLACE: But there were a lot of people besides Fox who said that, sir.
THOMPSON: Well, but I’m — these are the two you used.
THOMPSON: All right. Well, they said I got in too late, couldn’t do it…
THOMPSON: … wouldn’t raise enough money, and that sort of thing. And that’s their opinion. They’re entitled to their opinion.
But that doesn’t seem to be shared by the cross-section of American people. If you look at the national polls, you’ll see that I’m running second and have been running second for a long time.
I’m running ahead of a guy who spent probably $50 million more than I have and been running for a year longer. If you look in South Carolina, I’ve either been leading or tied for the lead for a long, long time. I moved from fourth to third in Iowa, ahead of Rudy Giuliani, incidentally.
So you know, they’re entitled to their opinion, but for you to highlight nothing but the negative in terms of these polls, and then put on your own guys, who have been predicting for four months, really, that I couldn’t do it, you know, kind of skews things a little bit.
There’s a lot of other opinion out there. National Review that I…
WALLACE: Do you know anybody who thinks you’ve run a great campaign, sir?
THOMPSON: It’s not for me to come here and try to convince you that somebody else thinks that I’ve run a great campaign.
WALLACE: Well, but that’s why I…
THOMPSON: I’m talking about — no, let me ask you…
WALLACE: … I’m just asking you the question.
THOMPSON: … you know, you mentioned conservatives. Would you say National Review was a conservative magazine and a conservative…
WALLACE: As are Fred Barnes and Charles Krauthammer.
THOMPSON: They said that — well, that just goes to show you there’s more than one opinion.
THOMPSON: You’re showing one. I’m giving you the other.
WALLACE: Well, I’m asking you for the other. That’s the point.
THOMPSON: Well, I’ll give you an answer. They said that I had set the standard for policy in this campaign.
They pointed out that I had laid out all these policy positions as far as immigration is concerned, as far as the military was concerned, the only policy position in Social Security, and others, and said they wish the other candidates would do half as well as I have.
Investors Business Daily has pointed out that I have the solution on the Social Security plan that no one else has put forth that will solve a major financial problem that we’re going to have in this country.
And as I go around the country, I get that kind of reaction. Now, other than opinion, which — everybody’s got one, the only thing I know to look at is the polls.
And if you get past New Hampshire and look at some of these other states — states that I’m leading in in the south, for example — and straw polls that I’ve won, endorsements that I’ve got — I’ve got more endorsements in the state of Georgia than all the other candidates put together.
So I understand the game of build-up and I understand the game of take-down. And we all go through it. And I’m perfectly willing for you to do that with regard to me as you do the other candidates.
WALLACE: I was going to say, Senator…
THOMPSON: But you have the right to put in your one side, and put in the Fox side, and I have the right to respond to it. And thankfully, you’ve given me that opportunity.
WALLACE: I was going to say, Senator, I’m glad I asked the question, because I got a heck of an answer.
Thank you for coming on. Thanks for talking with us.
THOMPSON: Thank you. Appreciate it.
WALLACE: Please come back, sir.
THOMPSON: Thank you very much.