When Fox News ran a full-page ad in the Washington Post -- as well as in two newspapers owned by Fox's parent company -- claiming that it had been the only network to cover the 9.12 tea party rally in Washington, DC, it was more than one CNN anchor was willing to take.
"I usually don't suffer fools gladly," CNN's Rick Sanchez began. "Especially when it comes to the fools who perpetuate falsehoods. Well, today thousands of you flipped through the pages of the Washington Post, only to come up a lie so bold and so upsetting that frankly I'm just not going to sit here in silence and allow my craft or my news operation to be unfairly maligned."
Over a large photo of the rally, the ad asks, "How Did ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC and CNN Miss This Story?"
"Enough is enough," Sanchez went on, sounding as though he had been taking lessons in righteous indignation from Keith Olbermann. "And yes, I'm talking to you, Fox News. You, who claim to be fair and balanced. At what, I wonder? ... They are saying we did not cover this story. They are using a lie to try and divide people into camps. ... That's an offense to myself and my colleagues, who risked their lives in Iran and Afghanistan and around the world to bring the news."
Sanchez then backed up his charges against Fox with clips of several different CNN reporters covering various aspects of the rally and even played a clip of Fox's Bill O'Reilly saying smugly, "CNN, as we mentioned, covered the anti-Obama protests, of course."
"Here's the fact," Sanchez summed up. "We do cover the news, and we did extensively cover this event. We didn't promote the event. That's not what real news organizations are supposed to do. ... 'Cover' is kind of like a 'fair and balanced' way of doing things. You get it? You might want to look into that."
"Let me address the Fox News Network now," concluded Sanchez, "perhaps the most current way that I can -- by quoting somebody who recently used a very pithy phrase. Two words, that's all I need. 'You lie.'"
According to a story which ran in the New York Times following Sanchez's remarks, "A senior CNN executive acknowledged that the network had never before confronted Fox so openly. Later Friday CNN ran its own promotional ad on the air saying 'Fox News: Distorting Not Reporting.'"
An ABC News spokesman also called the ad "demonstrably false" and expressed outrage at the Post for running it. The Post responded that it had accepted the ad after deciding that Fox was simply "expressing its opinion" of its competitors in the ad and not making false claims.
Post columnist Howard Kurtz added a few more details, writing that "Fox's view is that the ad refers to the other networks' missing the larger story, not failing to cover the demonstration itself -- although the photos suggest that the headline refers to the protest. ... There is no evidence that The Post asked Fox for any substantiation."
(Thanks to BradBlog for drawing our attention to this story)
This video appeared on CNN on Friday, September 18, 2009.