Teresa Heinz Kerry as Eva Peron?

Published July 28, 2004 10:01PM (EDT)

It's no secret that the Fox News Channel panned Teresa Heinz Kerry's convention speech last night. Within minutes of its conclusion, Fox's panel of mostly conservative pundits deemed it "odd," "self-centered," "eccentric," "bizarre" and "extremely self-indulgent." But now the editor of Ms. Magazine is calling on Fox convention reporter Chris Wallace to apologize for comparing Heinz Kerry last night to Eva Peron, the power-hungry wife of an Argentine leader who headed a fascist regime.

"I was simply stunned when I heard it," Elaine Lafferty of Ms. tells Salon. "He's a credible journalist, and I expect at least a minimal amount of integrity from him. But for him to make that kind of comment was way over the line."

Wallace, who left ABC News last year to work at Fox and who pledged to maintain his objectivity at a news outlet known for its conservative bias, was reporting from the convention floor last night. When Heinz Kerry's speech ended, he complained to Fox anchor Brit Hume, "It seems to me that her speech tonight was really all about Teresa Heinz Kerry, her vision of America, her understanding of where we ought to go, much more so than it was about her husband."

Wrapping up his report, Wallace said, "I have to say, by the end, I half expected her to break out into "Don't Cry for Me Argentina," referring to the signature song from "Evita," the Broadway musical about Peron's life. Chuckling, Hume thanked Wallace for his "very candid analysis."

Fox pundits then continued to critique Heinz Kerry's performance. Lafferty accepts that, since pundits are paid to express their opinions, but she thinks Wallace, as a reporter and a supposedly objective host of Fox's Sunday-morning talk show, crossed the line. "The best you can hope for is that he pulled that reference out of his head, and was thinking of Evita Peron as an interesting figure who did interesting things," says Lafferty. "But I don't think that's what he was referring to. In America, 'Evita' is shorthand for a woman who is a steamroller."

By Eric Boehlert

Eric Boehlert, a former senior writer for Salon, is the author of "Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush."

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