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8 February 1999

The Daily Howler happy ending: Hume gets it right!

Synopsis: Fox News had a very bad night Wednesday night. But on Sunday, Brit Hume got it right!

Commentary by Brit Hume, Rep. Bill McCollum (R, FL)
Fox News Sunday, Fox, 2/7/99

Here at THE HOWLER, we love happy endings, and on Sunday, Brit Hume got it right. Yep--Fox News had had a miserable night, last Wednesday night, on the Fox News Channel. A pair of real howlers had gone on the air, and Brother Hannity had almost made it three.

But just when we were wringing our hands in despair, Brit Hume sat down for Fox News Sunday. And, here at DAILY HOWLER WORLD HEADQUARTERS, the analysts cheered when Brit Hume got it right!

Bill McCollum was asked by Tony Snow about the Sid-n-Chris contretemps:

MCCOLLUM: The point of the whole matter is...the pattern is there, of the president telling his aides lies, really big whoppers, as I call them, not just that he didn’t have this relationship with Monica Lewinsky, but that she was a stalker...with the intent of getting them, I’m quite convinced, to go to the grand jury and tell them the same thing. But also to tell the public...

It was the standard story, parts of which we discuss elsewhere in THE DAILY HOWLER today. And just as McCollum was rattling on, Hume did what we’d like more pundits to do. He stepped on McCollum’s familiar tale, and voiced a fact-based objection:

HUME: Well, what about the testimony though, the story Dick Morris tells, that the president called him off of having a news conference because of his belief that Monica Lewinsky might not turn state’s evidence, as it were, and that they had to be careful with it. Doesn’t that fight the idea that he would--

As a matter of fact, Morris’ testimony does, on face, seem to fight the idea that the White House wanted Monica trashed. McCollum interrupted Hume with a reply that was irrelevant and condescending:

MCCOLLUM: But Dick Morris also tells you, Brit, if you don’t remember, that he had a poll taken and that it was at that point that the president said, “I’ve got to do what it takes to win--”

Remorseless, Hume wasn’t buying:

HUME: Right. [You see? He did remember!] But on the one hand he’s telling Morris not to attack her, and you’re saying, “But, on the other hand--”

At that point, Jim Sensenbrenner stepped in with a total irrelevancy, and the conversation went to the next topic.

But in the meantime, Hume had done the very thing we wish those pundits would do more often. He had voiced a factual objection to a standard tale--the same objection we offered Hannity on Saturday (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 2/6/99). He had challenged the pols to refine their tale--a challenge these pols weren’t quite ready to take.

If more pundits would do it, we’d get the discourse we’re after--the discourse the hard-working public deserves. Pols would be forced to refine their tales, to work them around till they fit all the facts. We’d all gain a more nuanced view of the news. And from there, we’d go on to cure hunger.

Of course, we don’t always agree with every word that Hume says--this Sunday, we think he overstated the case about Newt’s IRS win. But, when House managers showed up with a treasured tale, a tale not clearly in line with the facts, Brit Hume stepped in and made them pay. And the analysts cheered as Brit Hume got it right!

Visit our incomparable archives: Enjoy every episode in our “x gets it right!” series:

Thomas and Cooper get it right: THE DAILY HOWLER, 8/25/98
Capital Style gets it right: THE DAILY HOWLER, 9/30/98
The Hill gets it right: THE DAILY HOWLER, 10/9/98
Leno gets it right: THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/10/98
Shapiro gets it right: THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/23/98