31 October 2003

"The Memo" is the bible at Fox News

Former Fox News Channel producer and writer Charlie Reina tells how Fox News Channel isn't so "fair and balanced" as advertised:
The fact is, daily life at FNC is all about management politics. I say this having served six years there - as producer of the media criticism show, News Watch, as a writer/producer of specials and (for the last year of my stay) as a newsroom copy editor. Not once in the 20+ years I had worked in broadcast journalism prior to Fox - including lengthy stays at The Associated Press, CBS Radio and ABC/Good Morning America - did I feel any pressure to toe a management line. But at Fox, if my boss wasn't warning me to "be careful" how I handled the writing of a special about Ronald Reagan ("You know how Roger [Fox News Chairman Ailes] feels about him."), he was telling me how the environmental special I was to produce should lean ("You can give both sides, but make sure the pro-environmentalists don't get the last word.")

Editorially, the FNC newsroom is under the constant control and vigilance of management. The pressure ranges from subtle to direct.  First of all, it's a news network run by one of the most high-profile political operatives of recent times. Everyone there understands that FNC is, to a large extent, "Roger's Revenge" - against what he considers a liberal, pro-Democrat media establishment that has shunned him for decades. For the staffers, many of whom are too young to have come up through the ranks of objective journalism, and all of whom are non-union, with no protections regarding what they can be made to do, there is undue motivation to please the big boss.

Reina then details the daily executive memo mechanics and its influence on reporting:

But the roots of FNC's day-to-day on-air bias are actual and direct. They come in the form of an executive memo distributed electronically each morning, addressing what stories will be covered and, often, suggesting how they should be covered. To the newsroom personnel responsible for the channel's daytime programming, The Memo is the bible. If, on any given day, you notice that the Fox anchors seem to be trying to drive a particular point home, you can bet The Memo is behind it.

The Memo was born with the Bush administration, early in 2001, and, intentionally or not, has ensured that the administration's point of view consistently comes across on FNC. This year, of course, the war in Iraq became a constant subject of The Memo. But along with the obvious - information on who is where and what they'll be covering - there have been subtle hints as to the tone of the anchors' copy. For instance, from the March 20th memo: "There is something utterly incomprehensible about Kofi Annan's remarks in which he allows that his thoughts are 'with the Iraqi people.' One could ask where those thoughts were during the 23 years Saddam Hussein was brutalizing those same Iraqis. Food for thought." Can there be any doubt that the memo was offering not only "food for thought," but a direction for the FNC writers and anchors to go?  Especially after describing the U.N. Secretary General's remarks as "utterly incomprehensible"?

Reina's letter drew a response from Fox News V-P Sharri Berg who claims Reina is merely a disgruntled ex-employee...

6 October 2003

The Big Lie About the 9th Circuit

The San Francisco-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has ruled that the FCC cannot follow through with plans to allow cable companies to exclude rivals from selling competing internet service over their lines.

But that's not topic of this entry. Instead I want to address the accepted adage about the 9th circuit being a liberal bastion of justice and how it's "the most overturned court in the federal system".

Chalk it up to the pervasive influence of the Moonie Times, Scaife funded foundations and Father Limbaugh ... proving that if something gets repeated enough, it is accepted as truth, despite facts to the contrary.

From a NY Times response by Judge Noonan Jr. of the aforementioned 9th circuit - you'll probably have to pay to get the article but here is a blurb:

"In the calendar year 2001, the Ninth Circuit terminated 10,372 cases, and was reversed in 14, with a correction rate of 1.35 per thousand. The Fourth Circuit, reputedly the most conservative circuit and the circuit with the second-largest number of cases reviewed by the Supreme Court, terminated 5,078 cases and was reversed in 7, making a correction rate of 1.38 per thousand."

Of course, you're free to adhere to the Moonie Times myth that the 9th circuit court is some aberration of justice totally out of alignment with the rest of the world and other judicial bodies...

1 October 2003

The Top 25 Censored Media Stories of 2002-2003

From the folks at the aptly named Project Censored.