CHRIS WALLACE SLIPS, TELLS THE TRUTH…. Officially, Fox News and its various personalities try to maintain the fiction that it’s an objective, independent news outlet. No serious person believes that, but the Republican network likes to keep the facade going.

At least most of the time, that is. This morning, Fox News’ Chris Wallace — ostensibly, one of the people at the network with some standards of professionalism — talked to Don Imus about Helen Thomas’ seat in the White House press briefing room, now that she’s retired. The radio host said Fox News deserves the front-row chair, and Wallace not surprisingly agreed.

But it’s how he agreed that was interesting. As Wallace explained it, Fox News getting the seat would be “payment for Helen Thomas,” because “obviously, she was very far to the left wing.” Wallace added, “If her seat were to be taken by Fox News, it would just be kind of poetic justice.”

Of course, it’s obvious exactly what he meant — Thomas was to the left, Fox News is a Republican outlet. It would be “justice,” from Wallace’s perspective, precisely because it’s payback, trading someone from one end of the spectrum for someone at the opposite end.

Imus noticed the implicit concession, and called Wallace on it. The “Fox News Sunday” host quickly realized he’d gone too far. “Well, I just realized that’s probably not the way to go on this,” he said, with a very different tone in his voice. “We’re fair and balanced.”

Sure you are, Chris. Sure you are.

I’m not entirely clear on who, exactly, makes the decision on who gets the front-row chair going forward, but here’s hoping Wallace’s accidental truth has some bearing on the evaluation. Fox News is a propaganda outlet, not a legitimate news organization with professional standards.

And once in a while, its on-air talent will even admit it.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.