TVNewser is reporting that a Fox News employee was fired for telling John McCain that she voted for him and that he was going to win. Jennifer Locke was a production assistant on assignment for Fox News to cover the Time 100 Gala when she confessed her admiration for McCain. McCain reportedly replied:
“You’re not supposed to reveal that.”
Quite right, Senator. She was not supposed to reveal that. It’s a good thing you were there to scold her for letting the cat out of the bag. Your Fox handlers will reward you for that with more fawning coverage. Everyone knows that it’s perfectly alright for Locke to think that way, so long as she keeps it to herself. All Fox personnel should be aware that any disclosure of political bias is a violation of company policy and is punishable by termination. Particularly if you are an anonymous PA with no real clout. Of course, if you are a chief political consultant (Carl Cameron) or a Washington managing editor (Brit Hume) you are exempt.
Locke’s views would seem to have little relevance while working the entertainment beat, but she still needed to made into an example. It’s not as if her employers were unaware of her views. In 2004 she was the subject of an Associated Press article (published in the Washington Post) wherein she related her experiences as a lonely Republican at the American University of Paris:
“Locke surfaced in an informal sampling of AUP students at a broadcast journalism course. When an AP reporter asked students who favored Bush, her hand shot up.
Most students accused Bush of spurring terrorism and alienating America’s old allies, but Locke, an international affairs major whose ambition is to be an anchor on Fox News, stuck to her guns.”
What a sadly poignant tale. This young woman, who dreamed of stardom at Fox News, was on her way to realizing her dreams, but was summarily dismissed for articulating the sort of opinion that likely got her hired in the first place.
If only she had followed the lead of wise elders like Karl Rove, who appears regularly on Fox News without ever disclosing his role as an adviser to the McCain campaign. Or she could have looked to role models like the Pentagon Pundits (SPINCOM), who appeared on TV news programs (mostly Fox) clandestinely spewing pro-war disinformation.
The trick is to keep your prejudices safely behind a curtain of obfuscation. You can season your reporting with all the partisanship you want as long as you never admit that you’re doing it. You can enter into relationships that are clearly journalistic conflicts of interest as long you deny such relationships exist. Had Locke known better than to publicly reveal her biases she would still be able to pursue her career at Fox and advance to positions where she could happily slant her reporting. As it is, she will just have to chalk it up to experience and take her learned lessons with her to the next propaganda outfit down the road.