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Fox and the Bush Police -- Interchangeable Identities

Reported by Judy - March 17, 2006

Fox News is so transparently a cheerleader for George Bush that it is hard to tell their news reporters from Bush White House employees, but now it turns out you sometimes can't tell Bush's body guards from Fox journalists either.

The south Mississippi SunHerald reported Friday (March 17, 2006) that two members of Bush's security detail may have posed as Fox News journalists when they checked out the home of Jerry Akins of Gautier, Mississippi, prior to Bush's visit last week.

Akins told the SunHerald that on the Friday before Bush arrived two men came to his home and identified themselves as being with Fox News out of Houston, Texas. The men claimed to be working on a story on new construction and took pictures on the construction under way at Akins' home.

After the president's visit, the two men identified themselves to Akins as members of Bush's entourage and showed him blue porcelain lapel pins with the presidential seal. Akins told the newspaper that he assumed they were with the Secret Service, although an agency spokesman said agents usually do not pose as journalists. The spokesman suggested to the newspaper that they might have been with the White House staff or a branch of the military.

"Fox News had no comment," said the SunHerald story.

No comment? Somebody is going around impersonating members of your staff and you have nothing to say? Apparently, criticizing the Bush administration is so far away from Fox News' agenda that it will not even object to impersonation of its employees.

Is this a trivial matter?

The SunHerald contacted Al Colon, who teaches journalism ethics at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida. Colon said impersonating journalists undermines public trust in real journalists. "It begins to sow doubt in the minds of the people. They ask, 'Who am I dealing with here?'" he said.

In the case of Fox News, then, no damage done. With Fox News, you always know you're dealing with proxies for the Bush administration rather than real journalists.

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A tip of the hat to News Hound Janie for spotting this.

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