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Mainstream Journalists Providing Cover for Fox

Reported by Judy - August 4, 2004 -

Fox News Live today (August 4) went back to one of the themes Republicans promoted during last week's Democratic National Convention -- the alleged failure of Democrats to say enough about Kerry's record in the Senate.

Jon Scott (9:41 a.m. EDT) discussed Kerry's Senate record and other matters with three journalists -- Shelly Cohen from the Boston Herald, Karen Tumulty from Time Magazine, and Alexander Bolton, from The Hill. This technique of journalists interviewing other journalists has become increasingly common. It's a strange way of getting to the news, but it has one advantage -- it's cheap. Rather than hire reporters to go out and get the news, just ask journalists who are being paid by some other news organization to come on your show and provide the news.

The technique is also an effective way to attack Kerry while seeming to be fair and balanced. In this case, Fox News chose its journalists carefully. The Boston Herald was owned by Rupert Murdoch until 1994, when he sold it to his pal and protege Patrick J. Purcell. Not surprisingly, Cohen trashed Kerry's Senate performance, saying he had a "sorry record" of legislative accomplishment and an "even sorrier record" on national defense matters. Tumulty and Bolton, however, took the detached stance of professional journalists and avoided such one-sided statements echoing GOP talking points. Cohen, thus, gets a free shot to say anything she wants to about Kerry, knowing full well that the other journalists probably won't say anything. At the same time, the presence of Tumulty and Bolton makes Cohen seem more credible.

Time and other news organizations need to be more aware of how Fox is using their personnel to provide the semblance of objectivity while opening the door to one-sided political attacks.