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No high-fives over E.D. Hills' 3 little words on Fox News chat on Obamas' fist bump

June 10, 2008 | 10:28 pm

The innocent fist pound or knuckle bump that Sen. Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, exchanged before his speech in St. Paul last week triggered a spate of odd analysis.

It's a pretty normal gesture between two people, a mild digital celebration or good luck wish like the high-five. Athletes frequently exchange them, or parents with their children, before a game.

Take a look here at least to the beginning of the discussion of body language on Fox News between E.D. Hill and another one of these experts or strategists who crop up so miraculously as talking heads on cable shows:

Did you catch it there at the beginning -- Fox News anchor Hill in a tease to the next segment on body language calling the Obamas' gesture several things including a “terrorist fist jab”? A what?

If that kind of fist bump is indeed a terrorist gesture, then we're starting to get very scared 'cause we saw them all the time in the recent Stanley Cup playoffs on NBC. We've never liked the Detroit Red Wings; finally a reason.

In the Fox piece that followed, a body language expert explained the fist bump was a signal of affection between the Obamas. There was no further reference to the gesture being called a “terrorist fist jab.”

The anchor never explained the origin of the term, which she read off the teleprompter as part of a written intro to the segment, according to a network executive familiar with the situation.

The phrase apparently came from a simple reader comment posted on an article on the conservative website Human Events that accused Michelle Obama of being un-American and employing “'Hezbollah' style fist-jabbing.” (The comment has since been removed.)

In the last few days, Hill has been roundly criticized for the remark, including by Fox News' nemesis and MSNBC host Keith Olbermann, who is normally so mild-mannered and understated, calling it “inflammatory idiocy.”

On Tuesday, Hill apologized, saying the words were not her characterization:

“I want to start the show by clarifying something I said on the show last Friday about an upcoming body language segment. Now I mentioned various ways the Obamas’ fist-bump in St. Paul had been characterized in the media.

"I apologize because unfortunately some thought I, personally, had characterized it inappropriately. I regret that. It was not my intention. I certainly didn’t mean to associate the word terrorist in any way with Sen. Obama and his wife.” For video of this apology, click on the Read more line below.

Also Tuesday, Fox News announced a series of changes to its daytime line-up, including an expansion of its 10 a.m. Pacific-time show “The Live Desk” to a two-hour show. Trace Gallagher is joining Martha MacCallum as co-anchor there.

The change effectively pushes Hill out of her 11 a.m. time slot. But a Fox News executive said the move was already in the works and not related to the comment flap. Hill is expected to get a new role yet to be determined.

A gentle fist bump to E.D. when that happens.

-- Matea Gold

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