The Brit Hume Puzzler

I don’t know why I bother to read Tom Shales.

I usually don’t. Dude’s got the sweetest job in the world, but he’s not very good at it. But in today’s column, he took on Brit Hume’s comments about Tiger Woods’ religious faith. In case you missed it:

Shales is onto something to start:

It sounded a little like one of those Verizon vs. AT&T commercials—our brand is better than your brand—except that Hume was comparing two of the world’s great religions, not a couple of greedy communications conglomerates. Further, is it really his job to run around trying to drum up new business? He doesn’t really have the authority, does he, unless one believes that every Christian by mandate must proselytize?

Later on, though, Shales misses the boat entirely. Just watch.

The easiest mistake to make would be to associate Hume’s off-the-cuff, off-the-wall remark with the pathology of Fox News, a cherished target of the left just as the left is a cherished target of certain Fox personalities. Some of us cling to our faith that there is no institutional bias at the network, and that the business of Fox, to paraphrase Calvin Coolidge, is business.

Sorry, Tommy. Hume’s comments here actually further belie institutional bias on the part of Fox “News.” Look, I’m the last guy to begrudge Mr. Hume his faith, especially since—as Shales mentions—he came to it via a poignant personal tragedy, the suicide of his kid. But your average broadcaster on the set of your average cable news setup would never feel comfortable saying what Hume said. Sheri Sheppard of “The View,” okay, maybe. But I don’t think Wolf Blitzer would feel comfortable offering Woods such clumsy spiritual advice on the set of “The Situation Room.” And I guarantee you won’t be hearing any such thing out of John McLaughlin’s set—and he’s been an ordained priest.

No, no, Mr. Shales. It is well-documented that Fox “News” has made its way by forging a spiffy new newsroom culture, a culture that thrives on politics that driven by Christianity’s sometimes uncontrollable lust to evangelize. That Hume felt perfectly free to throw Buddhism under the bus on the air live was just the latest of many thousands of symptoms of this network’s “pathology.”

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