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Roger Ailes Delusional Over FOX News Bias

Reported by Ellen - October 14, 2007 -

In today’s Boston Globe online, an article purports to put FOX News’ chief executive Roger Ailes on the hot seat. Yet reporter Joanna Weiss let stand without scrutiny this howler from Ailes: “The broadcast networks put their opinion in the news and try to pretend that it's not opinion. And some of the cable networks, such as MSNBC, have their opinion people actually anchor the news. We don't do that. We have the separation of church and state.” (H/T TVNewser, though they also did not question Ailes' ridiculous assertion.) So for the sake of truth, reality and perhaps Mr. Ailes’ sanity, I put together the following examples of opinion disguised as news straight from the mouths of FOX News reporters.

Most of the posts linked below include video.

President Bush asks and FOX News delivers: On the same day that President Bush demanded that his warrantless eavesdropping be called "terrorist surveillance," that term was immediately adopted on FOX News as its own, without attribution as to its source.

FOX News glossed over Rep. Heather Wilson's role In Iglesias/U.S.Attorney firing scandal: In a brief report on Republican Congresswoman Heather Wilson’s announcement that she’ll run for the Senate seat of retiring Pete Domenici (R-NM), FOX News omitted mentioning the cloud hanging over their heads: their involvement in the U.S. attorney-firings scandal. Still, news anchor Harris Faulkner found time to chirp out enough of Wilson’s platform to sound like a campaign commercial.

FOX News distorted facts of Supreme Court EPA case and coincidentally cast Bush administration in more favorable light: When the US Supreme Court rebuked the Bush administration for its position on car emissions and greenhouse gases, FOX News falsely asserted that the Bush administration had argued that it "just was not sure whether it had a legal authority" to regulate them. In fact, as FOX News' own reporting had disclosed several months before, the Bush administration had insisted it did not have legal authority. In other words, the Supreme Court's decision was a direct slap in the administration's face, not a kind of clarification as anchor Harris Faulkner would have had viewers believe.

FOX News distorted the testimony of Kyle Sampson, former chief of staff to Alberto Gonzales, in favor of Bush administration: In his testimony to Congress, Sampson contradicted Gonzales' testimony that he had not been involved in the firings of eight U.S. Attorneys. Sampson also said the process had been misguided and he indicated that the firing of David Iglesias had been a mistake. But anchor Faulkner described Sampson's testimony thusly: “Kyle Sampson saying eight US Attorneys who were fired were done so because they did not pursue the administration’s priorities. For instance, he says, one of them did not vigorously pursue human smuggling cases. Sampson says the firings were proper but not properly explained to Congress.”

FOX News whitewashed reports of Patriot Act Abuse: The findings of a Justice Department audit that the FBI had broken the law and improperly invaded peoples' privacy was made to sound like a little misunderstanding and minor, bureaucratic error.

FOX News tossed out a criminal charge against Tom DeLay: In June, FOX News emphasized that an indictment for conspiring to violate Texas election laws had been thrown out. But it was erroneously reported, briefly, and at the very end, that only one charge against DeLay remained. In fact, two charges remain.

FOX News reported on the the Army’s decision to pay Halliburton more than $200 million of disputed charges in a fashion that could not have made Dick Cheney happier: FOX News left out the fact the Pentagon's own auditors had identified more than $250 million in charges as potentially excessive or unjustified and made it sound as though the main problem was the no-bid process.

Walter Reed scandal downplayed: In a ridiculous understatement, FOX News described soldiers' testimony about Walter Reed by saying, “While (soldiers) praised the medical care, they were upset about complex bureaucratic processes.”

Megyn Kelly (then Kendall, before her divorce and rumors of her extra-marital affair with the married Brit Hume became public) cherrypicked good news for Republicans in polling results about the Mark Foley scandal last year. In a report that was supposed to be about how the Mark Foley scandal would affect the upcoming 2006 elections, Kelly neglected to tell about the overall drop in support for Republicans. Instead, she highlighted one question in which voters responded that the scandal would not influence their voting and then adopted GOP spin as news. She said, "In the face of those numbers, GOP leaders see this scandal for now as Foley’s problem."

Those are a sample of FOX News reports made in the brief news break during Hannity & Colmes (my beat for the blog). As the person who followed FOX Report with Shepard Smith for three months during the preparation of Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War On Journalism, I can attest that these samples are entirely representative.