This post is a little less delightful than the last one, but just as breathtaking. Everything I'm about to post is a little oldish, originally appearing over the end of June/beginning of July. But it's still an amazing look at the rigorous journalism provided by the good fair 'n' balanced folk at Fox News.
The story starts at The New York Times, where Jacques Steinberg wrote this piece about the ratings of various cable news outlets over the past few months (you need to sign up to the Times to read it, but it's free and you really should do it anyways). Steinberg's conclusion was that, while Fox was still the top-rated news channel, but it is now growing its audience at a significantly slower rate than CNN and MSNBC. Part of this, he acknowledges, is down to the protracted Democratic candidate race compared to the much shorter Republican race (Fox's primetime clearly swings Republican, and they hosted no Democratic debates) - and also that the other channels have been adopting Fox's "emphasis on sharp opinions, glitzy graphics and big personalities."
Steinberg also closes by saying, "Still, no one is ready to count out [Fox News' founder and chairman, Roger] Ailes, or Fox News. 'The proof is going to be once the political season is over,' [senior vice president of research at ad buying agency Horizon Media, Brad] Adgate said. “Can CNN sustain the momentum they have?' Or, to put it in political terms, he added, 'Is this going to have coattails?'”
In response, Fox News latched on to a short piece posted back in April by Radar Online, in which they pointed out rumours circulating about bad blood between Times television editor Steve Reddicliffe and News Corp, which owns Fox News, and at the time owned Reddicliffe's former employer TV Guide: "[I]t's got nothing to do with the supposed ideological differences between the liberal Times and conservative Fox; this grudge, say the blogs, is personal. 'It seems like [Reddicliffe] is still bitter about losing his gig at News Corp ... owned TV Guide,' says FTVLive. Circulation fell 40 percent at TV Guide while Reddicliffe was there and he was let go, only to be scooped up by the Times in 2004, the site recalls."
However, in their April posting, Radar took the rumours with a healthy dose of salt: "The suggestion that an editor has acted out a three-year-old grudge against an arm of the parent corporation which fired him seems like a bit of a stretch, but if you consider that he's probably yet to earn at the Times what he made in a single year at TV Guide, you've got yourself a neat little conspiracy theory. Although he could have just hated News Corp. all along, like the rest of us," they concluded.
Fox used this story to attack Steinberg's ratings piece on their always amazing morning show Fox & Friends (you can watch it here in New Zealand in the wee smalls on Prime TV, if you find yelling at your television an effective cure for insomnia). Watch this:
So, for one thing, they took the Radar piece on Reddicliffe completely out of context in order to attack a piece written by a different journalist altogether (Radar responds here). But wait, there's more - Media Matters looked into it, and found these interesting examples of obvious photo manipulation, embiggening noses, embaldening hairlines, yellowing teeth, etc:
A later New York Times piece reported that, "A spokeswoman said the executive in charge of “Fox and Friends” is on vacation and not available for comment but added that altering photos for humorous effect is a common practice on cable news stations."
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