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Were Fox News Commentators Really 'Caught' Dissing Palin?

Not so much.

Well, the answer sort of depends on who you ask. Here's the video in question, which shows Fox News commentators discussing TLC's new series "Sarah Palin's Alaska":

According to the Huffington Post's Sam Stein, the video of a "Fox panel mocking Palin's new reality television show" was "leaked on Thursday."

The two reporters who are caught on camera -- Judith Miller and Liz Trotta -- didn't do much more than giggle in agreement with the New York Times and Washington Post television critics, both of whom slammed "Sarah Palin's Alaska" as, basically, folksy political propaganda. ...

An email to a Fox News spokesperson was not immediately returned.Instead, what's more interesting is the fact that the video leaked in the first place. Off-air moments during the taping of a television show almost always produce more candid and newsworthy exchanges than those that take place on air. And increasingly, TV personalities, politicians and pundits have found themselves in compromising positions when they've been unaware, say, that their microphone is still on.

The HuffPo writer goes on to speculate that "someone within the Fox News structure" leaked the video in an attempt at "embarrassing Miller and Trotta or, more likely, underscoring that not everyone at the network is on the Palin bandwagon."

Got that?  With no real evidence, HuffPo assumes that there's been a sinister plan hatched at Fox HQ, all in an effort to stick it to Sarah Palin.

Similarly, Mediaite advises that "The Fox News Watch crew better learn to watch when the camera is rolling from now on, because they might soon feel the wrath of the Mama Grizzly."

In actuality, the video had been posted to the Fox News site at least since Monday, not "leaked" on Thursday as HuffPo claims.

As TheOtherMcCain points out, the video making the rounds on the liberal blogosphere seems to show pundits secretly snickering to themselves about Palin's TLC program.  But when the broadcast returned from commercial, the commentators continued to give their (sometimes brutally) honest opinions:

SCOTT: She has gotten a lot of heat for that new show. Some lefty groups, Ellis, are pushing Discovery Communications to pull the plug. How about at that for freedom of speech?

[ELLIS] HENICAN: Strategic misstep on the part of the lefty groups, as you mentioned. Let the woman talk. Believe me, the more she talks, the better off they are.

(LAUGHTER)

[JON] SCOTT: Interesting that some of these folks who don’t like her — I mean, she puts eyeballs in front of television sets, right?

MILLER: Yeah, and she got a network to pay her a million dollars per episode to do this. But I found the most interesting review to come from Karl Rove, who is not exactly a left wing lunatic, who said this is not going to advance her presidential prospects. This doesn’t make her look presidential. I’d listen to Karl.

TROTTA: And the numbers keep going down every time she makes appearance, her popularity numbers. You have to keep track of those. The more you see her, the less you like her. And overexposure is something the Democrats have to pray for.

SCOTT: So you think that –

TROTTA: Plus the fact that they can bank on the timidity of most men, who are so absolutely spooked by feminism that they’re afraid to criticize her.

HENICAN: Give her something on the Cartoon Network.

The "Fox News Watch" program posts all the videos of its commentators bantering back-and-forth during commercial breaks and reporting this one video as a "gotcha" is dishonest at best.  I personally viewed the commercial break video on Fox's site Thursday evening.  The video in question was from the second commercial break of Fox News Watch, which aired Nov. 13.  Since the video has caused such a stir online, Fox seems to have since removed it from their site (original location here).

So, there wasn't so much a secret plot to embarrass Sarah Palin as there was some chatter among free-thinking individuals who are entitled to their own opinions, invited to a fair & balanced network to express those opinions, and aired on a network that's not afraid of differing points of view (like some other networks that shall remain nameless).

One last thing…
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