In case you were wondering whether Jon Stewart's barbs are getting under the skin of Fox News Channel honchos, I'd say Monday's report on "Fox & Friends" about "The Daily Show" host's income qualifies as a big "yes."

Fox's morning program — the resident mouthpiece for the channel to work out some of its sillier grudges — hosted a reporter from The Daily Caller to discuss Stewart's salary, which — big surprise — makes him a very rich guy.

The point, I guess, was Stewart rips Mitt Romney for being rich and out of touch when Stewart himself is rich, and thus presumably not doing all he could to share the wealth.

Only the Fox interview — conducted by Brian Kilmeade and fill-in host Eric Bolling — didn't offer anything about how Stewart spends his money, how much he gives away or whatever else he might do with it. So all you really have is another rich guy — a la Warren Buffett — whose advocacy for a more progressive tax code puts him at odds with his own interests. Big whoop.

Incidentally, Fox's timing is kind of interesting. Stewart took off last week for a customary two-week Fourth of July vacation, so the network jabbed at its tormentor knowing full well (unless they're unable to read a channel guide) that Stewart won't be around to hit back. In the trade, I believe we call that "wimpy."

Frankly, I ignored this story all day, figuring it wasn't worth mention, but the more I thought about it the timing of Fox's broadside is interesting, especially coming on the heels of some of Stewart's juicier skewerings of the network, including Sean Hannity's selective editing of an interview with President Obama, and the network's flip-flop on the legitimacy of invoking "executive privilege."

Ultimately, the real issue here isn't Fox News retaliating, but how lame the attack is.

To his credit, Daily Caller senior editor Jamie Weinstein did throw some caveats into his discussion, saying income disparity between Hollywood's leading liberals and the average working stiff — again, not really big news to anybody — is the real issue, "if there's anything in this story."

Big "if," dude.

 

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