New book reveals Fox News PR's dirty trick

The news company paid staff to battle the bloggosphere and covertly promote the network

By Sarah Gray

Published October 21, 2013 5:54PM (EDT)

                   (via Wikipedia)
(via Wikipedia)

The new book "Murdoch's World" written by NPR media reporter David Folkenflik, offers surprising details about the Fox News PR machine.  Media Matters reported that in the late 2000s Fox News public relations staff engaged in an elaborate attempt to portray the conservative site in a positive light.  Staffers created multiple untraceable aliases and posted positive comments about their employer on unfavorable or neutral blogs.

The book's endnotes say that four former Fox News employees spoke to Folkenflik about this tactic; it is unclear if it is still in practice.  According to the book:

On the blogs, the fight was particularly fierce. Fox PR staffers were expected to counter not just negative and even neutral blog postings but the anti-Fox comments beneath them. One former staffer recalled using twenty different aliases to post pro-Fox rants. Another had one hundred. Several employees had to acquire a cell phone thumb drive to provide a wireless broadband connection that could not be traced back to a Fox News or News Corp account. Another used an AOL dial-up connection, even in the age of widespread broadband access, on the rationale it would be harder to pinpoint its origins. Old laptops were distributed for these cyber operations. Even blogs with minor followings were reviewed to ensure no claim went unchecked.

Media Maters

Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on innovation. Follow @sarahhhgray or email

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