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Howard Dean Tells Chris Wallace Fox News Is Racist

Fireworks on Fox News this morning thanks to the guest pairing of Howard Dean and Newt Gingrich. Here’s how it started. In the aftermath of the Shirley Sherrod firing it’s interesting to see what fingers are pointing where. While apologies have been forthcoming from the NAACP, the White House, and Bill O’Reilly, Newt Gingrich, who shortly after Sherrod was fired said that the firing was justified based on Sherrod’s “viciously racist attitude” succumbed to some rather frantic back-pedaling this morning on Fox New Sunday.

Newt’s excuse was that he was merely taking the Sec. of Agriculture’s word for it. Such admirable spin. Not that he’s wrong about the administration’s incompetence here, merely that one would hope he would demonstrate the enough backbone to offer his own apology for not knowing better himself.

Chris Wallace, meanwhile, was not having it: “In all fairness this is not the first time you’ve done it” pointing to a questionable tweet from Newt last year calling Sonia Sotomayor a “latina woman racist” for her “wise latina” remarks. “Why so quick to call people racist,” asked Wallace. Gingrich meanwhile merely proceeded to dig himself deeper. This exchange however was merely a set up for what was to come.

It was at this point Howard Dean interjected to say that while he did not think either Chris Wallace or Newt Gingrich were racist, “Fox News did something that was absolutely racist.” You can probably see where this is headed. From Dean:

“They had an obligation to find out what was really in the clip. They had been pushing a theme of black racism with this phony Black Panther crap and this business and this 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. And Fox News is what did that. You put that on. 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.”

Responded Wallace calmly: “I know facts are inconvenient things but let’s try to deal with the facts.” Which are that the Obama administration preemptively and unfairly fired Shirley Sherrod and that Sherrod’s name was never mentioned on Fox before the USDA fired her. “Did you know that, sir?” asked Wallace. After a great deal of hemming and hawing it would seem Dean did not. Which is too bad because it happens to be true. Oh those inconvenient facts. Also? The whole segment sort of begs the question, if Dean thinks Fox is a racist network why is he appearing on it? Watch the exchange below.

Update: Michael Clemente, SVP of News, FOX News responds: “As we said this past week, some people such as the failed candidate Dean reflexively blame Fox for almost anything.”

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