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Grapevine Whine - Bash a Rival, Distract the Viewer

Reported by Nancy - November 25, 2005 -

Brian Wilson is substituting for anchoor Brit Hume this week on Special Report, but the format & coverage of the program remains essentially the same. Wilson, like Hume, does a segment called "The Grapevine" in the middle of the program. Also like Hume, Wilson tries for humor & generally fails, because, like much of the rest of the material on FNC, the content of these little "pickings" is actually an attack on perceived enemies. Here's a recent example that's a win-win double whammy for Fox: bash the Washington Post, distract viewers from the underlying issue of Traitorgate.

On Monday (11/21) Wilson led off the "Grapevine" segment with a snide re-telling of a report by the Washington Post's ombudsman, Deborah Howell, on Bob Woodward's role in the leaking of the identity of CIA analyst Valerie Plame. According to Wilson, Howell said that Woodward "committed a 'deeply serious sin' " when he failed to tell his editors that an administration source told him Plame's identity, & compounded that by "commenting on the investigation on TV." Wilson described Woodward as the Post's "star reporter" & quoted extensively from Howell's report:

[Woodward] comes and goes as he pleases...he reports only to executive editor Len Downie. [And] He is allowed to keep juicy stories to himself until his latest book is unveiled, [Woodward] has to operate under the rules that govern the rest of the staff — even if he's rich and famous.

Comments: Wilson callde Woodward a "star reporter" but Woodward officially retired more than a decade ago. When he retired, the Post gave him a sort of honorary title ("assistant managing editor") & an office.

Howell's article, which is indeed very critical of Woodward & of the Post, can be found here (the Post requires free registration),

As for Woodward's second "sin" -- commenting on NPR & on TV about the Plame investigation "without disclosing his early knowledge of Plame's identity" -- that's a rock-solid piece of the Fox repertoire. A recent example from the Grapevine segment of Special Report can be found here, or click on our "Hegemony" category for hundreds more examples of non-disclosure.

Hypocrisy, thy name is Fox. Gloating over the journalistic "sins" of a competitor might be believable if FNC even had a position such as ombudsman, or publicly investigated its own practices once in a while.

This "picking from the Grapevine" was also a good example of the disctractorama machine hard at work. Keep the focus on Woodward, ignore the publicly known facts of Traitorgate.

If you'd like to complain to Fox about this, email: special@foxnews.com

NOTE TO READERS: Please stay on topic (Special Report's hypocrisy in gloating over & attacking a rival; the distraction ploy). O/T comments will be deleted. Thanks.