This morning on Fox News a report was broadcast revealing new revelations about the costs of the recently passed health care bill. Anchor Megyn Kelly introduced the story with obvious shock and disdain for what she characterized as an attempt to keep information secret from Congress and the public.
The thrust of this alleged scoop was that the Department of Health and Human Services had authored a report that showed the costs of health care rising as a result of the new legislation. But the shocking part was the allegation that the report was suppressed by HHS and/or the White House prior to the vote in Congress.
Kelly spent almost seven minutes discussing this would-be scandal with Fox’s chief news anchor, Bret Baier, not some opinion show host like Sean Hannity. That’s seven minutes of valuable airtime devoted to a story that was picked up from the uber-conservative American Spectator, authored by someone who calls himself “the Prowler,” and backed up by a single anonymous source. And all of this was discussed after conceding that the story was unconfirmed.
Well, half an hour later, Kelly brings Baier back for a followup and guess what? The story was completely false. The HHS denied it and provided a timeline to document the course of events.
This perfectly illustrates the inner workings of Fox News and their standards for journalism. They will not hesitate to disseminate suspect information that is not backed up in the way that a responsible press operation would consider routine. Once their dubious report is released into the media atmosphere it is almost impossible to retrieve. There will have been numerous regurgitations on blogs and other Internet news sites. Emails will have started bouncing around the web even before Kelly finished the first bogus report. And by the time the truth is revealed, the lies are a part of the common knowledge in Wingnutia.
Rather than wait until a story has been checked out and confirmed, Fox News just lets it fly and crosses their fingers. Then when the facts become apparent they laugh it off or even portray it as an asset. This is what Kelly did after Baier crushed the HHS story. She proudly told her audience that “you saw it all unfold live, right here.” Indeed we did. We saw the poorly sourced, untrue accusations of a right-wing muckraker broadcast to millions over the air as if it were news. Then, if we were still tuned in, we saw the retraction of a story that was never fit to be aired in the first place.
Nice work Fox.