This week Fox News revealed what they regard as the professional and personal attributes to secure and maintain employment at their enterprise. What it comes down to is having a commitment to distorting the news, swinging hard to the right, and focusing like a laser beam on anything negative about President Obama and the Democrats.
The example was set by Chris White, the Fox producer responsible for the now famous four minute anti-Obama campaign-style video that was broadcast on Fox & Friends. In the wake of that shoddy exercise of pseudo-journalism, White was thrown onto a roller coaster that first sent him up a steep track of praise from Fox & Friends’ idiot hosts. That was followed by criticism and ridicule from many of his peers in the press and a vaguely critical statement from his boss, Fox News EVP of programming, Bill Shine, who said…
“The package that aired on FOX & Friends was created by an associate producer and was not authorized at the senior executive level of the network. This has been addressed with the show’s producers.”
The video itself appeared and disappeared from Fox’s web sites, finally falling into an abyss from which it never returned. White was reported to have been offered a new job at CNN prior to this controversy, but that offer was subsequently rescinded. With his fate up in the air, another statement emerged from Shine saying that…
“Chris White will remain employed with FOX News. We’ve addressed the video with the producers and are not going to discuss the internal workings of our programming any further.”
So Fox pulled White’s carcass from the fire. And why not? He represents everything the network reveres. No doubt he will soon get a promotion and additional responsibility so that he can slap together some more partisan GOP propaganda in advance of the election in November. That’s what Fox pays him to do. That’s what they pay Gretchen Carlson, Steve Doocy, Sean Hannity, Neil Cavuto, Megyn Kelly, Bill O’Reilly, and the rest of their staff to do.
However, Shine’s statement was notable for more than just his support for the disgraced producer. Shine’s arrogance in declining any further discussion of this matter is emblematic of the arrogance of Fox News overall. There is much left to discuss, and Fox News would be the first to demand more discussion and transparency from their competitors were they to be embroiled in a similar scandal. For instance, White was not the only person involved in the broadcast of that video. There were others who participated in its production including the Fox & Friends gang who were so openly effusive in their praise, yet they have not commented on it at all.
Where is the accountability for this abuse of ethics? Fox is determined to keep hidden any repercussions or, more likely, rewards they may have administered. And that is true to form at Fox. They have a history of hiring disgraced rejects. For example, Juan Williams, Don Imus, Doug McKelway, and Lou Dobbs were all put on the Fox payroll after having been terminated for cause at other networks. And as for their management of in-house malfeasance, here is a list of Fox personal who ought to have been fired for their brazenly inappropriate and unprofessional behavior, but who are still cheerfully plying their partisan trade at Fox (from my article last February):
Todd Starnes: Unsurprisingly, Fox News has smeared the Occupy Movement from its inception. They have disparaged them as everything from unfocused to unclean to un-American. But it took Starnes, the host of Fox News & Commentary on Fox Radio, to equate them to mass murderers by asking, “What should be done with the domestic terrorists who are occupying our cities and college campuses?” By comparing Occupiers to the likes of Timothy McVeigh, Starnes is engaging in rhetorical terrorism and insulting hundreds of thousands of concerned Americans.
Cody Willard: This Fox Business reporter brazenly exposed his bias when he attended a Tea Party rally and feverishly barked at the camera this call to arms against the U.S. government, “Guys, when are we going to wake up and start fighting the fascism that seems to be permeating this country?”
Andrew Napolitano: The “Judge” is a notorious 9/11 Truther who believes that the attack on the World Trade Center towers was an inside job, orchestrated by agents of the United States government. That’s a position considered so crazy by Fox Newsers that it was instrumental in their campaign to get Van Jones fired from his post as a green jobs adviser to President Obama. But, in typical Foxian hypocrisy, it has no impact on the employment of Napolitano. [Note: The entire primetime schedule of the Fox Business Network, including Napolitano, Eric Bolling and David Asman, was recently canceled. But it was due to poor ratings, not content. And all remain active Fox News contributors.]
Bill Sammon: The Fox News Washington managing editor was recorded admitting to a friendly audience on a conservative cruise that he would go on air and “mischievously” cast Obama as a socialist even though he didn’t believe it himself. In other words, he lied to defame the President and rile up his gullible viewers. That would be cause for termination at most news networks, but probably earned Sammon a bonus at Fox.
Eric Bolling: Hoping to sustain Fox’s leadership in inappropriate Nazi references, Bolling accused President Obama of engaging in class warfare that was “forged in Marxist Germany.” And if that wasn’t asinine enough, he sided with Iran against the U.S. by accusing the American hikers who were held in an Iranian prison of being spies and said that Iran should have kept them.
Bill O’Reilly: Dr. George Tiller, a family physician in Kansas, was murdered by an anti-abortion extremist who may have been incited to violence by rhetoric like this from O’Reilly: “Now, we have bad news to report that Tiller the baby killer out in Kansas, acquitted. Acquitted today of murdering babies.” O’Reilly regards the acquittal of a doctor for performing legal medical services “bad news,” and the services themselves “murder.” But he never took any responsibility for fanning the flames of violent incivility that led to the actual murder of Dr. Tiller.
Col. Ralph Peters (Ret): In a rant that argued that the United States should fight back against our enemies with the same tactics they use against us, Peters turned the media into military targets: “Although it seems unthinkable now, future wars may require censorship, news blackouts and, ultimately, military attacks on the partisan media. And like Bolling, Peters also took the side of our foes by suggesting, without evidence, that a missing American soldier was a deserter and that “the Taliban can save us a lot of legal hassles and legal bills,” presumably by killing him.
Michael Scheuer: This former CIA analyst was concerned that the American people were not sufficiently afraid of future terrorist attacks. He regards that absence of fear as dangerous complacency. But he has a solution: “The only chance we have as a country right now is for Osama bin Laden to deploy and detonate a major weapon in the United States.”
Roger Ailes: The CEO of Fox News proves that a fish stinks from its head. In response to NPR’s firing of Juan Willimas for bigoted remarks about Muslims, Ailes let loose a tirade wherein he viciously attacked the NPR executives saying that… “They are, of course, Nazis. They have a kind of Nazi attitude. They are the left wing of Nazism.”
Liz Trotta: What started out as a verbal stumble became a call for assassination when Trotta said, “Now we have what some are reading as a suggestion that somebody knock off Osama, umm, Obama. Well, both if we could.” Trotta followed that up with a commentary berating women in the military for complaining that they get raped too much (she did not define what an “acceptable” amount of rape is).
So if you’re looking for work at Fox News, you now have an idea of how you need to present yourself. Just go in breathing right-wing fire and hostility for liberals, along with a petulantly defiant attitude toward any criticism. Never back down, and remember that even conceding an error is a sign of fatal weakness. The CEO of Fox News, Roger Ailes, exemplified this trait masterfully when he hysterically insisted that “in 15 years we have never taken a story down because it was wrong.” Hmm. Then what happened to the anti-Obama video?
But also keep in mind that a successful career at Fox may not translate into success more generally in the media. Once associated with the disreputable network you may become tainted goods and damage your prospects elsewhere. In response to the Chris White affair, the Baltimore Sun’s television critic David Zurawik told Media Matters that…
“I wouldn’t hire anybody who worked at Fox even if I knew them, because I believe they’ve been compromised.”
It’s a safe bet to presume that he’s not alone. So work for Fox at your own risk, and only if you’re pretty sure that you’ll never want to work anywhere that isn’t a right-wing disinformation center. And, of course, be sure that you have an all-consuming passion for twisting the truth to advance conservative dogma. If you’re willing to be steadfastly dishonest, insulting, and obnoxious, you have a promising career awaiting you at Fox News. Good luck.