Fox News uncovers vast left-wing conspiracy in "Outfoxed"

Published July 13, 2004 2:33PM (EDT)

It's common knowledge journalists are among the most thin-skinned people on the planet. (They can dish it out, but can't take it.) But after watching the reaction to Robert Greenwald's new Fox News-bashing documentary, "Outfoxed," a whole new section within that thin-skinned community may have to be set aside for Fox executives.

At yesterday's standing-room-only press conference for "Outfoxed" in New York, an FNC statement was released suggesting the flick was part of a vast left-wing conspiracy. Besides dismissing as incompetents former FNC employees who used "Outfoxed" to blow the whistle on the news channel's openly biased ways, the Murdoch company took aim not so much with the movie's director, but at the New York Times and liberal philanthropist George Soros as the central demons in the unfolding drama. Soros, because the Center for American Progress, which Soros supports financially, backed "Outfoxed," and the Times because FNC insists the paper didn't give the network enough time to respond to an article it published in its Sunday magazine about "Outfoxed." FNC complained to the Washington Post that it 'only' had 24 hours to respond. But the Times writer insists FNC had three days, and says he has the emails to prove it. (FNC claims the Times was "taking orders" from Soros on the whole matter of when to contact Fox.) The issue appears to be a red herring anyway, because as the Los Angeles Times notes today, it gave FNC an entire week to respond of its "Outfoxed"story and the network never bothered to reply.

Perhaps Fox's hostile rebuttal--which double as a non-denial denial to Greenwald's central, and inescapable, accusation that FNC serves as an appendage to the RNC--shouldn't be that surprising. Just last month FNC chief Roger Ailes went nuclear, penning a name-calling op-ed in the Wall Street Journal after the editor of the Los Angeles Times had some unflattering things to say about FNC during a commencement speech he gave. It appears Ailes suffers from overly sensitive rabbit ears, because Carroll's speech was 73 paragraphs long, yet only eight even mentioned Fox News. But that was eight too many for Ailes who ended his diatribe by suggesting the Times treats murdering Islamic terrorists better than it does FNC employees. Days later, FNC's Neil Cavuto, sounding equally wounded, complained to the Atlanta Business Chronicle that Carroll's remarks that FNC's "net effect it is a damaging thing to journalism" were silly, and that "our news and our coverage is impeccable." Impeccable? Boy, is "Outfoxed" going to be an eye-opener for Cavuto.

FNC's coordinated attack on Carroll was somewhat comical given the fact when the editor made headlines a year ago for issuing a sternly worded memo about the need for the Times to rid itself of its liberal bias, FNC talking head Bill O'Reilly labeled the memo "stunning," and "applaud[ed] John Carroll for his honesty in his mission to bring his newspaper back to fairness."

For Fox News, honesty and fairness only go so far.

By Eric Boehlert

Eric Boehlert, a former senior writer for Salon, is the author of "Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush."

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