In case you don’t believe me that Fox News crossed the line of whatever journalistic integrity they ever had and into blatant advocacy, maybe you’ll believe Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen when she specifically credited Fox News over the release of ex-Marine Jon Hammar, imprisoned in Mexico for illegally bringing a gun into the country. In her own words, Ros-Lehtinen said, “You guys saved his life. I mean, literally.”
As I noted in a previous post, Fox News was so busy covering this case, you could turn on the network almost any time of the day or night and hear about it. And while Fox used the case to attack the Obama administration – and specifically possible 2016 nominee Hillary Clinton – over it, I have yet to see any credit given now that Hammar has been released. In fact, they are still using it to go after their foes.
On Friday (12/21/12), Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen appeared on The O’Reilly Factor to discuss Hammar’s release. She made it clear that as soon as Hammar’s parents alerted her to the problem, she turned to her friends at Fox:
Well, absolutely, Fox News and The O’Reilly Factor, you guys saved (Hammar’s) life. I mean, literally… The parents tried to do it the old-fashioned way. Jon has been rotting in that jail since August and the parents did the right thing. They wanted to go through different channels. They hired lawyer after lawyer after lawyer. They had prayer services going here in our community. And they didn’t contact us until just a few weeks ago.
As soon as they contacted us, boy, constituent service is what I live for. And we pounced on this story and thanks to you guys at Fox, you were able to save his life.
And either because smearing Democrats is an unwritten rule on Fox or maybe it just comes naturally to people like Ros-Lehtinen, she used the occasion to take her own swipe at the Obama administration and guess who? Hillary Clinton. She cited a bi-partisan letter from Congress to Clinton and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano “demanding that they get active on this case. Up to then, all we were hearing were status reports of Jon shackled to his bed. This was shocking.”
Guest host Laura Ingraham pounced at the opportunity to criticize Clinton’s State Department. “What about the State Department? It would seem that if you have an American Marine, two tours of duty, suffering from PTSD, and this obviously was some trumped-up deal… Why wasn’t the administration on this? Or maybe they were behind the scenes and just didn’t get anywhere? To me it seems very strange.”
Yes, and God forbid anyone should bother to do any investigating to find out what the State Department did and why or why not.
Not that Ros-Lehtinen cared. She took the partisan ball and ran with it. “It is very odd and we kept calling and we made all the right inquiries about ‘What are you doing?’ and ‘Why aren’t you stepping up to this case?’ Because our embassy should be advocating for the release of Americans who are unjustly detained, not just give us status reports.”
Of course, we don’t know that Hammar was truly unjustly detained. We do know he broke Mexican law, however inadvertently. All of Fox’s reporting seems to have come from either Hammar’s parents or his advocates like Ros-Lehtinen.
She added, “It took a lot of media attention. Fox, again I’m telling you, you guys – what you did for Jon Hammar. That family is just so grateful.”
I’m glad Jon Hammar made it out of jail and in time to get home for Christmas as he didn’t seem to be any kind of real criminal. I just hope everyone understands that if you want help from Fox News in a personal problem, you’d better do you best to make sure it advances one of their Republican or conservative causes.
But Mexico is not off the hook yet. Ingraham advised, “Bill’s going to go into a lot more of this in the new year.”
So I’ll be clear. K.T. McFarland was sent to Afghanistan to interview David Petraeus for Fox News, specifically as a journalistic endeavor. After asking him a few questions, she then turned to the real purpose of her visit, as directed by her boss, Roger Ailes. So while sitting with the Commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, she attempted to influence his political and intelligence decisions, including an implied money offer. She told Petraeus that Roger Ailes was disappointed with the current (2011) crop of GOP candidates and would support him if he were to run for President, and further told him to reject appointment by Obama to anything other than the highest possible level. When this tape was publicized, she tried to play off her offer as “a joke”. But the tape makes clear this was no joke.
VK, I would recommend that you look up the definition of “influence peddling” and see how this would relate to a Fox News reporter trying to influence the actions taken by a U.S. military commander in the field. This is not a small matter, and if it were to be investigated, could lead to serious trouble for both McFarland and Roger Ailes. You can shake your head all you like, but that doesn’t diminish the significant ethical violation here, and the potential criminal violation that goes with it.
The point of the connection here, which you are attempting to ignore, is that if Fox News is trying to directly influence outcomes of the matters they cover, then they are surrendering the notion of practicing journalism to practice advocacy instead. If they want to be advocates, and it sounds like they do, then any claim to being “Fair and Balanced” is nullified. Take a little time to think about what that means, and you’ll see why the story was posted here.
I’m not saying that the behavior over the Hammar case is “mean”. Nor am I saying that McFarland’s extremely questionable behavior is “mean”. I’m saying that McFarland’s behavior may be criminal. The tapes clearly show that she’s acting not as a reporter but as a political front for her boss. There’s a very fine line that gets obliterated in that conversation, and we shouldn’t lose sight of that. Name calling will not make this issue go away.
And at the same time, if Fox is trying to play games about how Mexico dealt with Hammar’s situation, does this mean that they are openly acknowledging themselves as advocates and not as “fair and balanced” journalists? Bill O’Reilly has in the past made a big point about how he doesn’t try to boycott anyone or influence anything. He can’t now try to take credit for something like that and keep his premise intact, can he?
I’m off to buy a larger TV because my 32" will not be able to do justice to Bile’s out of proportion big head.
He sure as hell will take full credit for this one.
The fact is that Hammar broke Mexican law and the inevitable end of the case was going to be his deportation back to the US. It looks like the Mexican judicial system just expedited the deportation, given that there wasn’t anything more serious in the file. Had he been accused of anything further, this would not have been the case. And both he and they knew that he’d been in custody for the infraction for several months already.
Of course, you don’t hear Fox News carping about any of the OTHER citizens of the US currently in Mexican jails. Should every one of them be released, or does Mexico have a right to enforce its laws within its own borders?
Ros-Lehtinen has been an opponent of funding for the Peace Corps.
Ros-Lehtinen has been a supporter of the Church of Scientology. She has been described as “[one] of the church’s best friends currently serving in Congress”,
Why does that seem a bit wing-nuttia …