Update: Alaska Dispatch received a call from Fox News' Media Relations department asking for a link to an Associated Press article in which the hosts in question claim that they were only joking about pulling punches with Palin. Thursday evening, the two further clarified their comments on the day's edition of "The Five," stating again that they were joking.
Original Article: In a brief segment from the Wednesday episode of Fox News Channel's talk show "The Five," highlighted by Mediaite, Fox analyst Bob Beckel and late-night Fox talk-show host Greg Gutfeld commented that they have treated their colleague Sarah Palin with extra care compared to other subjects.
After viewing a clip from a recent, and charged, Palin commentary about negative characterization of the tea party movement, Gutfeld said, "The only problem with talking about Sarah Palin is that she works here, and it's like a coworker. And if I say something bad and I see her in the hallway I feel really awkward and wrong. So I just kind of say, 'that was a good job.'"
Beckel interrupted him to agree, "It has nothing to do with that. It has everything to do with your paycheck. That's what you feel awkward about," Beckel said. "I know exactly what you mean. I'll be honest, I've pulled my punches."
Nearly every major news outlet in Cyberspace has picked up the clip at this writing, but two analyses are particularly worth reading. Politico connects the kid-glove treatment Beckel and Gutfeld say they've engaged in to the fact that Palin, in addition to being employed by Fox News, is the most recognizable Republican who hasn't declared or declined a run at the White House. The Washington Post's Erik Wemple indicts a larger trend in media and politics and contrasts conflict-of-interest disclosures in newspapers, "spelled out in the most sober, earnest language," with conflict-of-interest disclosures on Fox News Channel, "conveyed with a giggle or two."