New York Times executive editor Bill Keller has made no secret of his distate for Fox News, regularly attacking the network's claims of being an unbiased news organization. But in an appearance at the City College of New York last week, he upped the ante attacking not just the producers and hosts of the news channel but their large audience as well: "I think if you're a regular viewer of Fox News, you're among the most cynical people on planet Earth," he said before adding a favorite dig, "I cannot think of a more cynical slogan than 'Fair and Balanced.'"
Predictably, Fox News has latched onto the remark. On Monday, Bill O'Reilly brought on Bernie Goldberg who used Keller's remarks as proof that "They are snobs of the worst kind." Unfazed, Keller defended himself to Howard Kurtz and pointed out, as the Wire noted, that it's hardly the first time he's gone after Fox News. "I've been recycling that comment about the 'Fair and Balanced' slogan for four or five years," he tells The Daily Beast writer.
But he didn't mention the part about insulting the Fox News audience -- even in big-time media spats, members of the audience are typically considered noncombatants -- so we emailed Keller to ask if he stood by his "most cynical people on planet Earth" appraisal.
He doesn't. "I would call that a case of tripping over my own tongue. I didn't mean to insult Fox viewers." But he did get in another dig: "It's not their fault that they are ill-served."