Burns out at 'Fox News Watch'

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NEW YORK -- Fox News Channel has fired the host of its weekly "Fox News Watch" show that discusses the performance of the news media.

Eric Burns, the show's host, said Monday he was told in a phone call last week that his contract would not be renewed. He said he was not given a reason.

The show airs Saturday evenings and, along with CNN's "Reliable Sources," is one of two cable news programs that focus on the media. "Fox News Watch" has included conservative commentators such as Cal Thomas and Jim Pinkerton, as well as liberals like Jeff Cohen and Neal Gabler.

Dana Klinghoffer, Fox News Channel spokeswoman, would not comment on the firing. She told The New York Times "the show will now focus more on the evolving new media, and we didn't feel the current talent would be capable of handling the new direction."

Burns said new ideas were discussed in a meeting Feb. 1, although "nothing in the meeting indicated that I wouldn't be part of it." He was fired Feb. 4.

While surprised by the firing, Burns noted that he had been downgraded to Fox "contributor" last year, with a pay cut attached.

Burns has been host since 1998. During that time, he said, "our show editorially was left alone" and included perspectives from both the left and right. Fox News chief Roger Ailes would occasionally suggest topics, Burns said, but that was his right -- and Ailes would do it knowing he could be criticized on his own network.

Burns drew a goodbye salute from frequent Fox News critic Keith Olbermann of MSNBC, who named Ailes his satirical "worst person in the world" for firing the host.

"It was a good show, it was a fair show and Burns made it an entertaining show," Olbermann said.
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