CNN SETS FOX NEWS STRAIGHT…. I imagine real journalists at legitimate news outlets get pretty annoyed with Fox News. After all, actual journalists have to go to the trouble of abiding by professional standards, make an effort to tell news consumers the truth, and do real work. Fox News doesn’t do any of these things, and yet, it has a large audience. It’s bound to breed resentment.

But real journalists rarely say anything negative about the Republican network, perhaps out of a spirit of collegiality and professional deference. There are, however, exceptions.

Fox News reported that journalists from major outlets were brought to a Gadhafi compound in Libya on Sunday to document damage done from a coalition air strike. Fox News told viewers that, by going to the compound, the journalists allowed themselves to be used as “human shields” by Gadhafi — coalition forces couldn’t target that area again because Western reporters were there.

At least, that’s what Fox News claimed. Yesterday afternoon, CNN correspondent Nic Robertson, reporting from Libya, went off on the Republican network, tearing the Fox News report to shreds.

“[T]his allegation is outrageous and it’s absolutely hypocritical. When you come to somewhere like Libya, you expect lies and deceit from a dictatorship here,” Robertson told Wolf Blitzer. “You don’t expect it from the other journalists.”

Fox News’ Steve Harrigan claims he deliberately skipped the opportunity to film the targeted compound, but as Robertson explained, Fox News sent a correspondent on the same excursion the actual journalists attended. Harrigan, meanwhile, doesn’t like to “leave the hotel.”

As for why CNN and other organizations went to the compound, escorted by Libyan officials, Robertson explained, “[W]e go on these government trips … for a very simple reason. Because we don’t want government officials to film it themselves, edit it themselves and hand it off to us.”

In other words, they’re news professionals.

Here’s hoping Steve Harrigan was able to watch the exchange from his comfortable hotel room.

Steve Benen

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.