What was the point of the interview?

WHAT WAS THE POINT OF THE INTERVIEW?…. In November, Fox News’ Chris Wallace appeared on “The Daily Show” and took some good-natured ribbing about Republican defeats on Election Day. Jon Stewart eventually tried to give his guest some credit, saying that Fox News has some credible people on the air including, “you and Shep Smith, and you and Shep Smith….”

Wallace has generally tried to pretend to be a credible media figure with professional standards, thus earning credit from viewers like Stewart. Wallace, the argument goes, isn’t like the wild-eyed activists in the network’s high-profile lineup (Beck, Hannity) and the obvious partisans on during the day (Megyn Kelly, Jon Scott). Chris Wallace is allegedly interested in doing real journalism.

If only reality didn’t prove otherwise.

The Obama White House has, for the past few weeks, waged an informal war on Fox News, lashing out against the network for its conservative bias and blacklisting it from interviews with high-ranking administration officials.

So what type of counter-punch did Fox have to offer?

On Sunday they handed over the first half of their hour-long Sunday show to an interview with bombastic radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh. A hard-hitting interview it surely wasn’t.

If we were to grant the premise that Limbaugh is a noteworthy public figure, worthy of a half-hour on a Sunday morning, a real news program might at least press the right-wing radio host on some of his more recent controversial remarks. That didn’t happen — it was effectively a 30-minute screed against the president, with the “objective” host egging on the attack dog.

Faiz Shakir did a nice job highlighting the importance of the questions in the interview — the answers were predictable right-wing claptrap — which included one softball after another.

As Limbaugh offered one ridiculous falsehood after another, the “journalist” host made no effort to set the record straight for the viewing audience. Best of all, after the program, Wallace praised Limbaugh as “very nice, very sweet.”

What was the point of the interview? What journalistic purpose was there to give a notorious right-wing blowhard a half-hour of airtime to bash the president? If Fox News is touchy about being identified as the Republican network, was yesterday’s Limbaugh interview intended as some kind of bold assertion that it no longer cares about keeping up appearances?

Andrew Sullivan concluded, “It seems to me that any pretense that [Chris Wallace] remains a journalist must now be retired. He’s a Republican Party operative, trading on a once-respected name in news.”