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Sep. 20 2009 - 12:15 pm | 406 views | 2 recommendations | 17 comments

Lies, Liars, and Accountability: Fox News is Having A Bad Week


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One would think that Fox News would be resting on its laurels this week.  The successful staging of the 9/12 protests – more or less organized by Fox’s Glenn Beck – provided the network with a ready-made scoop: a major political story with the leadership and organizers already full-time employees of Fox News.

It should have been a media coup but Fox News couldn’t leave well enough alone.  On Friday Fox News took out a full page ad in the Washington Post asserting that the other major news networks failed to cover the 9/12 protests.  “How did ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, and CNN miss this story,” Fox asked, adding “we cover all the news.”

That was a big mistake.

CNN’s Rich Sanchez launched into a nearly seven minute attack on Fox’s integrity and responsibility as a news network in response.  Pulling in example after example of CNN’s coverage of the events, Sanchez hammered away at Fox relentlessly, citing even Fox’s own Bill  O’Reilly’s complaints about CNN’s supposedly non-existent coverage.

And then Sanchez went for the throat: the image Fox used as the backdrop for their Washington Post ad came from footage from CNN’s observation tower.

The next day CNN fired back with an ad of their own.  Claiming Fox is “distorting not reporting,” CNN attacked its right-wing-rival with televised ads focused upon the misleading ad in the Washington Post.

But CNN’s 30-second short would not prove to be the day’s most damaging video for Fox.  Late on Saturday a video appeared on YouTube with a “behind the scenes” view of Fox News producer Heidi Noonan actually directing and rallying a 9/12 protest crowd for a live shot. The story has since been making the rounds on social news sites like Digg and has been picked up by the Huffington Post.

Prior to the video’s release, Fox’s role as the orchestrator of the 9/12 protests might have been termed suspect at best.  Noonan’s conduct, however, drags the network across the line into the blatantly unethical.

The job of news organizations is to report the news, not make it. Directing the crowd in live shots does not show viewers what’s really happening, it shows them what the network/producer would like to have happened.

In reporting the news as news, therefore, media should be as unobtrusive as possible.  While this goal is not always  well accomplished, stepping over the line from reporting to directing the events being reported is a gross breach of journalistic ethics.

This, even more than the inaccurate ad Fox took out in the Washington Post will cast doubt upon the so-called news operation at Fox. The segment in question is not an opinion show with “commentators” like Beck and O’Reilly, but rather Fox pretending to cover the news “fairly” and in a “balanced” manner and then presenting propaganda instead.

The video thus calls into question the integrity and accuracy and objectivity of every minute of programing that Fox News airs, not merely that of its acknowledged opinionated pundits.

Fox’s critics have always suspected as much but now they have hard evidence to back it up.


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  1. collapse expand

    Public Relations used to be about bending the truth or distractions but Fox openly lies, so the matter of staging news is secondary to the fundamentals of journalism: News is non-fiction. They are blatant and consider facts debatable. They get away with it because Fox viewers get all their news from one source.

  2. collapse expand

    Great reporting, Chris. One word: Murdoch.


  3. collapse expand

    Fox is highest rated because they do report the news while the lower rated media like ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC and PBS report what they are spoon fed. Just look at the nightly pap. Did you see anything on 9/12? They seem frantic to play stories deflecting the reality of Obama’s terrible assault on the Constitution (which he publicly stated “stands in the way of progress”). I don’t fault the insiders support of the administration. I believe that’s their liberal bent though it fails at being credible journalism.

    • collapse expand

      I’m curious, willy, where one can find a quote of Obama stating that the Constitution “stands in the way of progress.” I couldn’t find a direct quote by googling, but maybe my search skills are not all that great.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
    • collapse expand

      Either you just posted the greatest example of veiled sarcasm ever, or you are a person that needs to die in a grease fire. Not to bring down the level of civility on this website or anything, because this place seems like a better than average place for recognition and debate with some quality writers, but you may or may not be firmly standing in the realm of reality.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  4. collapse expand

    I was recently asked the definition of oxymoron. The first thing that came to mind was Fox news.

  5. collapse expand

    First of all, while I’m sure FOX news was trying to drum up some sensationalism as it usually does. It was hardly the mastermind behind that protest. At best, they were trying to grab at what was already there because they thought they saw a potential market.

    Secondly, it was not just a bad week for FOX, it was obviously a bad week for CNN as well, as that response, in similar vein to the stunts FOX pulls, was entirely childish as well.

    The entire thing is just distasteful and unprofessional, really. For everyone involved.

    Its no wonder the public is becoming disenfranchised by the news media these days. I guess it was a bad week for all news media in general considering polls on public trust are the lowest they’ve been in decades.

    They’re rapidly losing public confidence and relevance, and this bickering isn’t helping their case by any means. It’s downright shameful to look at the circus the media has become these days, and the melodramatic tabloid-style, worthless opinionated junk it produces and passes off as significant “news.” It’s getting more and more apparent, especially with they way they are reacting to issues, and each other, that they are on a path to self destruction.

    TV is going to have to make way for the newest medium, in the same way it took over Radio. The internet is becoming the most relevant source of information. And with it’s largely decentralized and bottom heavy and interactive nature, people are free to find access to a source they find more suitable and/or reliable, and even better ways to cross reference what they are told, instead of having a point of view shoved down their throat from a media giant.

    Good Riddance.

  6. collapse expand

    This is the biggest news right now in the US, IMO. This needs to be on front pages of printed news and story one in online news aggregators.

  7. collapse expand

    Fox News-the network for those who can`t think for themselves

  8. collapse expand

    Beautifully written.

    Nothing left to say, but thanks!



  9. collapse expand

    Nicely done. FOX needs a smackdown now and then.

  10. collapse expand

    Staging the crowd at this rally was probably not the best move the station ever made. They’ve lost alot of credibility and all respect from their competitors. http://www.newsy.com/videos/crossing_the_line

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    About Me

    I got started in journalism as a contributor to MSNBC.com's social news site Newsvine. While writing there I scooped the AP on the April 16 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech, covered the Democratic National Convention in 2008, and was named one of the Wall Street Journal's "Wizards of Buzz."

    I live in South Western Virginia and, when I'm not tackling the political issues of the day, I develop websites to pay the bills.

    See my profile »
    Followers: 50
    Contributor Since: May 2009
    Location:Christiansburg, VA