As always, "fair and balanced"

Watching Fox News' coverage of President Bush's press conference today.

Published May 24, 2007 4:35PM (EDT)

On a lighter, somewhat personal note for a second: In my previous reporting on Fox News, I've been continually admonished by the network's hosts, guests and publicists that I have to remember there's a difference between Fox's opinion programming (which actually takes up close to half of the network's broadcast day) and its news reporting, which is "fair and balanced."

So I was more than a little amused -- in a bittersweet way, of course -- when, watching President Bush's press conference this morning on Fox News, I saw whom the network brought on as a guest afterward to discuss what the president had said. That would be former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, the darling of conservatives and foreign policy hawks, whose record in the Bush administration was so abrasive and controversial he could be appointed to that post only through a recess appointment that bypassed Senate confirmation; a second try at his nomination also failed.

Bolton was the only guest, though he was of course subjected to tough questioning from anchor E.D. Hill. Questions like, "OK, I think I've heard this before. Uh, Iran? It somehow sounds familiar. There are sanctions in place, it's going to cost some money and some pain for the Europeans to stick to it, and so they don't, they make the backroom deals with Saddam Hussein. What's to keep them from doing the same thing here?"

"Well, I think that's why the timing is important here," Bolton responded. "What the IAEA report this week shows is that the Iranians are very close to a truly industrial-scope enrichment capability, which means the timing of getting to a nuclear weapon is largely in their hands. I think we need a dramatic ramp-up of the pressure, and if we can't get that quickly from the Europeans, unfortunately we're going to have to do something else, like regime change or, as a last resort, the use of force by the United States."

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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