Journalism is a competitive field and the best and the brightest are highly valued assets by reputable news enterprises. And then there’s Fox News.
No other “news” organization so aggressively hires the refuse cast off from other media employers. It must be a great comfort for wayward reporters and pundits to know that if they should violate the standards of ethics and/or decency demanded of them, they will always have somewhere to turn for sympathy and a fat paycheck, not to mention an undiscriminating audience.
For so many fallen television personalities, Fox News has been a support system that promises them a steady career path and a future that, in the past, would have meant well-deserved humiliation and disgrace. For these folks Fox was their white knight who stepped forward to whitewash their professional sins.
Pat Buchanan: The author of notoriously bigoted books like “State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America,” Buchanan was released from his contract with MSNBC after he wrote that as a result of “the rise to power of an Obama rainbow coalition of peoples of color [...] whites may discover what it is like to ride in the back of the bus.” He then complained that he was a victim of blacklisting by a coalition of blacks, gays, and Jews, before being swept up by Fox.
Juan Williams: A veteran correspondent for National Public Radio, Williams went astray when he confessed that “when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.” Williams failed to see the inherent racism in his commentary and refused to apologize. Shortly after NPR relieved him of his duties there, Fox signed him to a new multimillion dollar contract.
Judith Miller: In the lead-up to George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq, New York Times reporter Judith Miller coordinated with the administration to make the case for war. Her articles gave credibility to fabricated allegations that Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction. Eventually her distortions were revealed and the Times sent her packing. And where else but Fox would have welcomed her with such open arms?
Erick Erickson: Following the election in November of 2012, many news outlets resolved to reexamine their operations and staff. At CNN they concluded that there was no longer a place for an ultra-conservative blogger who once called Supreme Court Justice David Souter a “goat-fucking child-molester.” Fox was also undergoing a self-examination and decided that Erickson was just what they were looking for.
Rick Sanchez: Not satisfied with calling Jon Stewart a bigot in a radio interview, Sanchez elaborated by falling back on the well-worn anti-Semitic theme of Jews controlling the media. “[E]verybody who runs CNN is a lot like Stewart,” Sanchez said, “and a lot of people who run all the other networks are a lot like Stewart, and to imply that somehow they – the people in this country who are Jewish – are an oppressed minority? Yeah.” Today Sanchez is a correspondent with Fox News Latino and MundoFox. Ironically, Sanchez once castigated Latinos who worked for Fox as “sell-outs,” and Fox responded by saying that “Everyone knows that Rick is an industry joke, he shows that he’s a hack everyday. And he doesn’t have to worry about working at FOX because we only hire talent who have the ability to generate ratings.”
Mark Fuhrman: A regular crime analyst on Fox, Fuhrman may be better known as the disgraced former Los Angeles police officer who upended the O.J. Simpson trial by falsely testifying that he had never used racist epithets. That sort of behavior, however, is not a problem for the editorial bosses at Fox.
Doug McKelway: A familiar face in Washington, D.C., McKelway anchored a local news broadcast until he drew complaints for having told a gay activist he was interviewing that he wanted to take him outside and punch him in the face. That episode capped a rocky tenure during which he often fought with producers over his perception that the station’s broadcasts were too liberal. He doesn’t have that problem anymore now that he is a correspondent at Fox.
Lou Dobbs: This long-time CNN anchor was ostensibly CNN’s financial expert. Somewhere along the way he assumed the role of an immigrant basher and a proponent of the racist notion that all terrorists are Muslim. And to sweeten the pot, Dobbs joined the Birther Brigade by repeatedly demanding that President Obama produce his “real” birth certificate. In retrospect, it seems like Dobbs was positioning himself for future work at Fox News.
Oliver North: Here’s an oldie but a goodie. Col. North was convicted of lying to congress about President Reagan’s arms-for-hostages affair. While the conviction was later overturned by an appellate court that ruled that North’s testimony had been immunized, the underlying facts were not in question. North’s confession to a host of illegal acts was not a hindrance to his becoming a host on Fox News.
Don Imus: What can be said about the guy who was fired for calling a group of women on a college basketball team “nappy-headed hos?” Fox calls him the anchor of the morning block on their financial network.
Tucker Carlson: Perhaps the poster child for Fox’s Disgraced Reporter Rescue Program is Tucker Carlson, who has managed to fail on CNN, PBS, and MSNBC before receiving salvation from Fox. And like Sanchez, Carlson once held Fox in low esteem calling them “a mean, sick group of people,” after they published his home phone number on the Fox web site. But when Carlson was jettisoned from MSNBC he worked his way back into the good graces of Fox as the editor of The Daily Caller blog, then as a Fox contributor, and now the co-host of the weekend edition of Fox & Friends.
This pattern of staff development by Fox relies heavily on applicants (or, in the case of Sanchez and Carlson, supplicants) with proven histories of impropriety. They seem to regard the discards of other networks as their richest vein of new talent. And if the prospect has any lingering felonies on their rap sheet, all the better. The frequency with which Fox acquires ethically-challenged employees belies any suggestion that it is mere coincidence. They are clearly drawn to the reportorial riffraff and regard moral defects as badges of honor.
Consequently, if anyone is interested in handicapping the next batch of Fox contributors, just check to see who has been recently terminated at some other news outlet or paroled from prison. And if their offense involved an injury to a liberal policy or person, double down, you’ve got a sure thing.