Heard on the Hill: Is Brit Hume a Marathon Man?

Posted November 13, 2003 at 2:56pm

Brit Hume, Washington managing editor of Fox News, insists that his network is fair and balanced — despite Democratic claims to the contrary.

But an e-mail circulated Wednesday by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist’s (R-Tenn.) office sparked a new round of Democratic cries — this time claiming Hume and his staff tried to help the GOP stage-manage the chamber’s marathon battle over judicial nominations.

Manuel Miranda, a Frist aide, forwarded to GOP offices an e-mail urging Republican Senators to show up at the Majority Leader’s office Wednesday evening before 6 p.m. for a symbolic march into the chamber together.

“FOX News Channel is really excited about this marathon and Brit Hume at 6 [p.m.] would love to open with all our 51 Senators walking onto the Floor — the producer wants to know will we walk in exactly at 6:02 when the show starts so they get it live to open Brit Hume’s show?” wrote Elizabeth Keys, a press aide for Senate GOP Conference Chairman Rick Santorum (Pa.).

The e-mail added: “Or if not, can we give them an exact time for the walk-in start?”

Hume told HOH that the e-mail was an “absurd” and “wing-ding” memo written by “some overzealous press secretary on the Hill.”

“I know nothing about it,” Hume said.

It’s also worth noting that Hume did not even end up opening Wednesday night’s edition of “Special Report” with live footage of the GOP Senators marching into the chamber.

One GOP leadership aide also downplayed the significance of the e-mail, saying the Santorum staffer expressed “excess enthusiasm” about Fox’s interest in the footage. The leadership aide said producers at Fox were just trying to get their cameras ready for the big moment and were probably “less bubbly” than the e-mail suggested.

But Democrats who obtained a copy of the e-mail couldn’t help but notice that GOP aides did not mention any “excitement” at CNN, MSNBC or any other cable outlet about coordinating the march so closely with the Republican Conference.

“I sleep better at night knowing there is absolutely no connection or relationship between Fox News and the Republicans,” cracked one Senate Democratic aide.