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And Now A Word From A Member Of The Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy

Reported by Ellen - April 15, 2005

Byron York, author of the new book The Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy was the first guest on Alan Colmes' radio show last night. Colmes clearly thought the idea of a vast left-wing conspiracy was laughable. He could barely say the words without cracking up. I find it funny, too, that York thinks I and the other News Hounds are part of that vast conspiracy. What's not so amusing are all the misrepresentations about us in York's book.

Early in the interview, York brought up the chapter on Robert Greenwald, "the documentary filmmaker who made Outfoxed which I thought was just filled with inaccuracies." Attention, dear readers. I was interviewed for York's book, I appear in it for about three pages and I was shocked at the number of his inaccuracies that occurred in such a short space.

For example: he says that for the three months of working on the movie, I "never, ever missed an episode of The Fox Report with Shepard Smith. Monday through Friday, every day, every week, (I) was in front of the television set... tuned to the Fox News Channel, studying every word that came out of Smith's mouth."

This is a distortion of the truth. First of all, I did miss several "episodes." In fact, I went on vacation twice during those months. While I may have told York I watched the show every day (perhaps forgetting about the vacations), I would never have said I never, ever missed an episode. Second, the wording implies that I ran home every night in order to watch. The truth is I was virtually never home when the show aired and I watched it always on tape. Many times I'd skip a night or two then watch a few shows at once. There was no timeliness factor so I could work at my convenience. Third, I did not study every word that came out of Smith's mouth. There were plenty of segments (G Block, wicked weather, Scott Peterson, e.g.) that I paid scant attention to because we were focused on political coverage.

York calls me a "fan" of Air America. I may have told him I listen to it and that I like it, which is true in general, but the greater truth is I don't listen very much and I only like a few of their shows. I'm fairly certain I would not have described myself as a "fan."

He reported one of the News Hounds living in the wrong state.

He says we called ourselves the News Hounds while we were watching the movie. We did not come up with the News Hounds name until we decided to start the blog, well after the work on the movie ended. During the movie, we were called the media monitors.

He said we had about eight or nine categories to watch for while monitoring FOX. In fact, there were about twice that many.

York wrote, "After a few months, the Newshounds had given Greenwald hundreds of examples of what they believed was right-wing bias at Fox. They could have sent Greenwald other clips that suggested a more complex picture--for example, (I said) Shepard Smith was 'not a screamer' and that he 'doesn't put in a lot of his opinions; it's hard to know what he really thinks'--but Greenwald had not asked for that. So Greenwald got what he wanted."

Comment: While this is an accurate presentation of my assessment of Smith, it does not represent in any way my view of the show FOX Report and I thought I made that clear to York. Smith is the host and, unlike O'Reilly or Gibson, he plays very little part in the relating of the news. He introduces the story, then a reporter takes over. Smith does no interviews on that show. Even Sean Hannity doesn't do that much proselytizing when he is introducing upcoming segments. I did find lots of bias in the reporting on FOX Report. When York quotes me as saying "I had just no idea how biased it was. That just shocked me all the way through," I was referring to all the shows I watched, including FOX Report. I never would have said, "But FOX Report wasn't like that." I watched that program far more than any other.

Lastly, York implies that we were puppets who only found what Greenwald asked us to find. In reality, we were quite interactive in our role. We were the ones who alerted Robert to the way FOX uses "some say" as part of its bias, now memorialized in the film. Also, many of our monitoring categories were open-ended. One such category was Richard Clarke and the 9/11 Commission hearings. We were simply asked to report on how FOX covered the story, with no further instructions.

Colmes stayed away from the subject of Greenwald and Outfoxed during the interview, despite York bringing up Greenwald twice. But Colmes did discuss other allegations of misrepresentations in York's book as reported by Daily Kos. He also debunked York's thesis by showing that York got it "backwards." "It's not that vast, it's incipient, it's growing and it's not anywhere near the breadth and depth they have on the right," Colmes said in summary.

Frankly, it never occurred to me until I spoke to York that I might be part of any conspiracy. But now that I know I am, I'd have to say that Colmes described it about right.

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