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Fox Makes a False Report, and Then Does it Again an Hour Later

Reported by Melanie - October 17, 2005

Earlier this afternoon, Donna reported that the lead story on Studio B today (October 17, 2005) was the murder of California attorney Daniel Horowitz's wife, Pamela. Donna reported that during Studio B's coverage (just after 3:00 p.m. ET), host Shepard Smith said that the San Francisco Chronicle was reporting that an arrest had been made. Smith went to Claudia Cowan, live in California, who reported that the "buzz" around the courthouse was that a caretaker on the couple's estate, Daniel Lynch, had been arrested. Minutes later, in a live telephone interview with Phil Bronstein, the editor of the Chronicle, Bronstein told Smith that his newspaper had not reported an arrest. Subsequently, Smith lied about Fox having revealed the suspect's name, saying, "We certainly haven't named anybody..."

More than an hour later Fox was still hyping this story with statements it knew were not true. In a news break during Your World at 4:14 p.m. ET, Gretchen Carlson said: "There are reports of an arrest in the death of a high profile attorney's wife. Claudia Cowan brings us up to date."

Claudia Cowan: "Just about an hour and a half ago we had heard reports from San Francisco Chronicle editor Phil Bronstein that an arrest had been made. In fact, those reports have turned out to be premature."

Comment: Despite Shepard Smith's report to the contrary, and Cowan's disclosure of the name of the yet-to-be-charged suspect on live, worldwide television, Bronstein made it clear that the Chronicle was not reporting an arrest. An hour later, Gretchen Carlson implied that an arrest had been made when in fact the Fox newsroom knew that was not true. Seconds later, Claudia Cowan stated that Bronstein said an arrest had been made, when the Fox newsroom knew that wasn't true either. Just what are the journalistic standards Fox operates under? How about, throw it against the wall and hope it sticks.

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