Trying to help Chris Wallace understand

I did a couple of items yesterday about Jon Stewart’s appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” but I wanted to expand a bit on this, because “The Daily Show” host raised some important points that bear repeating.

If you haven’t seen the interview, I’m including the full video after the jump, but after having gone through the transcript, I thought I’d flag a couple of things. Fox’s Chris Wallace seriously seems to believe that ABC, CBS, NBC, Washington Post, and the New York Times are liberal outlets, making Fox News a necessary counterweight. Wallace even boasted to Stewart that he could “prove it” during the interview.

Stewart said he was “excited” to learn about this, as was I. Here’s the list of Wallace’s evidence:

* Major outlets made a fuss about Sarah Palin’s gubernatorial emails.

* “The Daily Show” compared the editing technique in Sarah Palin’s bus-tour video to an identical editing technique used in an ad for medicine that treats herpes. (When Wallace said Stewart was making “a political comment,” Stewart replied, “You’re insane.”)

* “The Daily Show” mocked Herman Cain for saying he would demand short pieces of legislation if elected. (Wallace implied that Stewart was being racist.)

* ABC’s Diane Sawyer did a segment on Arizona’s anti-immigrant bill with an incomplete description of the state law.

That was it. That was the whole list. When Stewart said he genuinely believes the major outlets are not “relentlessly activist … in a purely liberal partisan way,” Wallace boasted, “The shutters to go from your eyes because I’m going to prove it to you in the next few minutes.”

And this was the list he could come up with. This, by the way, was with the benefit of time and research, when Wallace could point to anything he wanted to “prove” liberal activism in the media. The best he could do was come up with four meaningless examples.

Chris, if you’re reading, you appear to have proved the opposite with such a weak indictment.

Indeed, Stewart tried to explain the problem with Wallace’s worldview:

“You can’t understand because of the world you live in that there is not a designed ideological agenda on my part to affect partisan change because that’s the soup you swim in. I appreciate that. I understand that. It reminds me of, you know — you know, ideological regimes. They can’t understand that there is free media other places. Because they receive marching orders.”

In the same interview, Stewart briefly brought up Bill Sammon’s emails, and Wallace cut him off. Adam Serwer picked up where Stewart left off, highlighting the series of memos from the Fox News Washington managing editor, instructing the network’s on-air figures to “take conservative and/or anti-Obama positions.”

When Wallace can produce similar partisan and ideological instructions from editors at mainstream outlets, we can talk more about “bias” and “balance.”

If you missed the interview, here’s the first part:

And here’s the second:

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Steve Benen

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.