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Fox's Fake "Report" About Bill Frist's HCA Stock Sale

Reported by Melanie - October 18, 2005

It occurred to me recently that I should do a post about Fox's lack of coverage, particularly on its hot shot "business news" program Your World w/Neil Cavuto, of the SEC's investigation into possible insider trading by Bill Frist. Impatient me! Today (October 18, 2005), Cavuto "covered" the story.

At 4:15 p.m. ET a chyron appeared at the bottom of the screen: "Coming Up: Sen. Frist Faces the Critics on Stock Sale."

At 4:30, heading to a break with a chyron at the bottom of the screen that read, "Frist Comes Clean," Cavuto said, "We've got a lot more coming up when we take a look at Senator Bill Frist, facing the media on that questionable stock sale. We'll show you exactly what he said."

At 4:40 p.m. the "Fox Stox" portion of the show began. "Fox Stox" is a 90-second segment during which Cavuto reports actual business news in lightening-fast snippets. Today he reported on eight different companies, Frist/HCA being the first. In a snippet lasting 15 seconds, Cavuto said, "Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist speaking out on the sale of that HCA stock he owned. That's the healthcare company founded by his dad. Frist says that he acted properly at every point. He's cooperating fully with investigators. Frist ordered to sell his HCA stock last June just prior to the company's profit warning." (My emphasis.)

As Cavuto spoke, Fox showed a full-screen graphic featuring a picture of Frist, a graph of HCA's year-to-date stock movement, and the quote, "Frist says he 'acted properly at every point.'"

Comment: Compare this (search our site) to Fox's obsessive, minute-by-minute, 24/7, year-long coverage of every detail in Democrat Martha Stewart's case. Fox began even the most trivial report with a FOX NEWS ALERT. It stationed reporters behind bushes, in helicopters, at courthouses, on rural roads in Connecticut, outside Stewart's office, and outside prison gates. Fox spent hours, days, and weeks discussing Stewart's case. It devoted segment after segment to analyzing this and predicting that. It chewed on rumors and possibilities. It dissected Stewart's ethics and lamented her bleak and dismal future.

Contrast that to this Frist "coverage." Fox set the stage with two promos that painted a picture of Frist "facing the critics" and "coming clean." There was no FOX NEWS ALERT. Cavuto's 15-second report was tucked into the "Fox Stox" portion of the program. (Cavuto talks so fast during "Fox Stox" that I'm willing to bet the average viewer doesn't absorb much. You'd have to pay very close attention in order to do so.) And don't you just love the way Cavuto said Frist's dad started HCA? How sweet! Oh, and one last thing: Cavuto said Frist was "ordered" to sell his stock? Since when, when, and when?

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