Tag Archives: Fox news

It Appears, And Not For The First Time, That Tucker Carlson And The Daily Caller Do Not Understand This Thing Called “Ethics”

Tucker Carlson

Tucker Carlson

Conservative blogger Mickey Kaus wrote a piece criticizing Fox News for not meeting its obligation (as Kaus sees it) to take on the role of media opposition on the issues of illegal immigration and amnesty, and instead, as Kaus told Politico, “filling up the airwaves with reports on ISIS and terrorism.”  (Kaus is wrong, but never mind) Kaus posted his commentary on the DC only to discover later that Daily Caller founder and editor Tucker Carlson had taken it down. Carlson’s explanation: “We can’t trash Fox on the site. I work there.'”

Indeed, Carlson, who co-founded The Daily Caller in 2010, is a conservative contributor to Fox News as well as the host of its weekend edition of “Fox & Friends,” on which he has been known to fall asleep on the air. Carlson told Kaus that the ‘no criticizing Fox News, ever’  policy was an unwaivable rule.

Kaus quit, as he should have.

The conflicts of interest on display here, the insensitivity to them, and the lack of any pretense of journalistic fairness or integrity is staggering. Carlson has placed The Daily Caller in the same, discredited ethics no-man’s land of Media Matters, Move-on.org, the Daily Kos and other sites that blatantly distort the news and their commentary on it for specific, ideological and personal agendas, and a personal agenda is the most unethical and cynical conflict of all. Carlson likes his Fox paycheck, apparently. Well, then, his ethical obligation is to have an independent journalist edit his website. In the alternative, he needs to refuse to work for Fox unless the network agrees to allow him full reign to say and write what he believes on his website, and to allow others to do so as well. Continue reading

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Time For Ethical People To Boycott Fox News

No-Fox

Brian Stelter, CNN’s media critic, just played a newly-uncovered tape of the phone call to then-reporter Bill O’Reilly telling him that a shadowy figure in the JFK assassination had committed suicide. This was the same gentleman that O’Reilly, in his best selling “history” book, “Killing Kennedy,” claims shot himself with a shotgun while O’Reilly was just outside his door.

Documentation of O’Reilly lies are proliferating like Republican Presidential hopefuls, and the Fox News Head Bloviator continues to respond with bluster, ad hominem attacks and threats. In doing so, he refuses to abide by the standards he articulated—correctly—explaining why NBC’s fabulist anchor Brian Williams could no longer be trusted by viewers.

Meanwhile, Fox News has disqualified itself as a news source even for those who (completely justifiably) distrust the left-biased mainstream media. At least NBC had the integrity and professionalism to (eventually) investigate Williams’ conduct and take him off the air. Fox, in stark contrast, has issued deceitful defenses of their most profitable commentator, and continues to back, promote, and air a proven liar. (We already knew Bill was a bully, a jerk, and a narcissist.) Continue reading

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Update: Fox News’ Self-Destructive O’Reilly Denial

You can't yell you're way out of this one, Bill..no, wait. Maybe you can.

You can’t yell you’re way out of this one, Bill..no, wait. Maybe you can.

And here’s another one. Questions are being raised about reporter Bill O’Reilly’s accounts of being “bombarded” during the LA riots.

This process resembles sexual harassment. One way you can tell the falsely accused from the genuine miscreants  is that one accuser opens the floodgates when there is substance to the complaint. Very few sexual harassers aren’t serial by nature–think Bill Cosby. Heck, think Joe Biden.  The O’Reilly debacle is following the script of the Brian Williams drama almost exactly, except that NBC finally acted responsibly, though not until it had tried the old “let’s see if this will just blow over” ploy.

So how many reports of O’Reilly hyping facts and enhancing his bravery and boldness will have to surface before Fox News stops covering for him and acts like a legitimate news organization? ( For those who have forgotten, such a news organization values trust and integrity, rather than emulates President Obama’s insistence that the I.R.S was as clean as the driven snow. ( It was and is not, and the news media’s partisan decision to bury the scandal rather than investigate it will haunt it for a long, long time.)

The network seems intent on destroying any credibility there was to the claim that it was dedicated to truth rather than bias, and qualified to expose the distortions of the liberal-biased mainstream media. Forced to deal with a  parallel incident to NBC’s Williams crisis, Fox has chosen profit over professionalism (Bill’s ratings while playing victim have been boffo!) and is botching a brilliant opportunity to prove its critics wrong.

Instead, Fox is proving critics correct. Eventually, all but the shameless will begin to feel like they are getting the news from charlatans, and seek enlightenment elsewhere. NBC was late to choose integrity; Fox News may be too late.

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Unethical Quote of the Week: Fox News

weasels

“Bill O’Reilly has already addressed several claims leveled against him. This is nothing more than an orchestrated campaign by far left advocates Mother Jones and Media Matters. Responding to the unproven accusation du jour has become an exercise in futility. Fox News maintains its staunch support of O’Reilly, who is no stranger to calculated onslaughts.”

—-Fox News, in a statement announcing that it was standing behind its beleaguered cash cow and star, Bill O’Reilly, who has been shown convincingly to have misrepresented his exploits on several occasions.

What an awful, slimy, deceitful statement. Yecch. It must have taken a veritable pack of weasels, plus some lawyers, to draft that. Let’s unpack it. Hold your nose: Continue reading

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Integrity Check For Fox As Another Bill O’Reilly Fib Surfaces

Wags say Bill's next book will be titled "Killing Credibility"...

Wags say Bill’s next book will be titled “Killing Credibility”…

Now another Bill O’Reilly misrepresentation of the facts has come to light, mandating action by Fox News management if it doesn’t want to appear guilty of being even less concerned with the integrity of its product than the mainstream media is with theirs.  After all, Brian Williams is no longer on the air. So far, Fox is resisting. Its  operative rationalizations are:

1. Bill’s not an anchorman, like Brian Williams, but a pundit. My response: He poses as a truth-teller and calls himself a reporter and a journalist.

2. These are nit-picky, minor factual variations, not outright fabrications as in Williams’ case. My response: Yes, Williams’ were worse, and there were more of them. So what? O’Reilly should be held to the standard he articulated quite well while covering the Williams situation: if you can’t trust “an anchor or commentator,” he isn’t worth watching.

3. The whole controversy was the result of an ideological hit job by angry liberals who wanted to take down a conservative talking head in retribution for the most popular left-biased network anchor being hounded off the air by conservatives. My response: Yup. So what? Fox needs to be professional and insist on the integrity of its product, whatever the motive that drove O’Reilly’s exposure.

As Ethics Alarms discussed a few days ago, Mother Jones and its ideological assassin David Corn published a piece accusing O’Reilly of repeatedly telling his audience that he had been in a “combat zone” during the Falkland Islands war, and sometimes leaving the impression that he was on the battlefield in the Falklands. The truth appears to be that O’Reilly was in a scary riot that occurred after the war itself, in Argentina. Unlike Williams, then, O’Reilly accurately described the incident, but intentionally mischaracterized its nature. (A riot, even a riot prompted by a war, is not a “combat zone.”)

I wrote: “Are you surprised? I’m not. O’Reilly has a lot in common with Williams—an addiction to self-glorification,  a monstrous ego, and an unseemly desire for celebrity.” Thus I’m not surprised that a second example of Bill spinning his own exploits has surfaced. From The Daily Beast:

In 1977, O’Reilly was a 28-year-old TV reporter in Texas investigating the assassination of John F. Kennedy. O’Reilly wrote in his 2012 book Killing Kennedy that he was knocking on the door of a CIA asset with ties to the Kennedys and the Oswalds when he heard the asset shoot himself to death. Pretty dramatic, but it’s entirely false, says Jefferson Morley, a former Washington Post editor and author of JFK assassination book Our Man in Mexico. O’Reilly is heard on phone calls obtained by Morley telling an investigator that he would fly to Florida from Texas the next day to cover the suicide.

It’s harder to argue this one away than the Falklands enhancement: it’s a Brian Williams-style fabrication, and it’s in print. (The Smithsonian has reportedly pulled O’Reilly’s best-seller from its book stores now, because it regards the whole book as suspect. Funny: I always regarded this amateur history exercise as presumptively unreliable.) He has also repeated this fictional version of the facts on the air.

There should be no debate. Fox News exists because of conservative conviction that the mainstream media news networks were biased and could not be trusted. Fox is obviously biased, but it can’t give an organizational pass to intentional fabrication and maintain any credibility at all, especially when the liar in question is, like Williams at NBC, the 800 lb. gorilla of the organization. If O’Reilly survives because he’s a ratings champ while NBC, though kicking and screaming, properly jettisons its own gorilla, then Fox is exposed as a journalistic fraud (which many people are convinced it is anyway.) Continue reading

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The Brian Williams Ethics Train Wreck Welcomes Bill O’Reilly and Fox News…And Maybe Mother Jones?

oreilly-site-630px

“The O’Reilly Factor’s” Bill O’Reilly has been one of the Right’s attack dogs on the Brian Williams fiasco, not that anything he has argued is undeserved or incorrect. He has stated, clearly and without exception, that no lying anchors, reporters or commentator can be trusted by viewers, and thus should not be watched. Now the uber-leftist magazine Mother Jones has published an impressive report that seems to show that O’Reilly himself has repeatedly exaggerated his own combat reporting experience over the years, in his case, during the Falkland Islands conflict when he was a CBS reporter:

[F]or years, O’Reilly has recounted dramatic stories about his own war reporting that don’t withstand scrutiny—even claiming he acted heroically in a war zone that he apparently never set foot in.

O’Reilly has repeatedly told his audience that he was a war correspondent during the Falklands war and that he experienced combat during that 1982 conflict between England and Argentina. He has often invoked this experience to emphasize that he understands war as only someone who has witnessed it could. As he once put it, “I’ve been there. That’s really what separates me from most of these other bloviators. I bloviate, but I bloviate about stuff I’ve seen. They bloviate about stuff that they haven’t.”

 Fox News and O’Reilly did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
I’m convinced; I think O’Reilly’s failure to respond, and Fox’s as well, strongly suggest that O’Reilly’s guilty of at least one instance (Williams, we now know, has many)of the kind of exaggeration that brought him down, and that Fox, like NBC, has been unprofessionally incurious about their top-rated on-air personality’s puffery.

Observations:

1. If Mother Jones’ writers (David Corn and Daniel Schulman) are correct, and the research looks thorough, then O’Reilly is obligated by his own words to take himself off the air. If he does not, then he will have branded himself a fraud and a hypocrite.

2. To the Mother Jones writers’ credit, they don’t accuse Fox’s head bloviator of hypocrisy, because he isn’t, yet. Nothing he has  said regarding Williams and journalism  isn’t true. He has not been unfair to Williams. Based on what Bill has said, if Mother Jones has him dead to rights, then he must concede that viewers can no longer trust him either, and he has made it very clear what needs to happen. If O’Reilly doesn’t abide by his own stated principles, then he’s a hypocrite. We shall see.

3. If Corn and Schulman are right, then Fox News would have to handle O’Reilly much as NBC has dealt with Williams, but one hopes faster and less hesitantly.

4. Are you surprised? I’m not. O’Reilly has a lot in common with Williams—an addiction to self-glorification,  a monstrous ego, and an unseemly desire for celebrity. I’ve caught him fudging to artificially enhance his resume, as when he refers to himself as a Harvard alumnus. O’Reilly got a Masters degree in Public Administration at the Kennedy School of Government, so he’s technically correct, but I’m certain most of his viewers never heard of the Kennedy School, and think that he means the college. I have it on good authority that Harvard grads who feel the need to broadcast their connection to the school are widely regarded by other Harvard grads as pompous, insecure jerks. Bill’s undergrad degree is from Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York, and he earned his journalism degree from Boston University, an excellent school.

5. This is good investigative journalism. It also wreaks of a deliberate “you took one of ours down, so we take one of yours”  hit job by Mother Jones. A fundraising pitch for the Democratic Party popped up while I was reading the piece: this was opposition research. Corn, who also broke the unethically taped Romney comments about the “47%”, would never expose Williams or any other reliably Obama-guarding network talking head, because  he, and Mother Jones, don’t care about lying journalists who advance The Cause. Of course, I doubt anyone on Fox would expose false statements by George Will or Charles Krauthammer. Is there no media outlet that just cares about promoting honest journalism and trustworthy broadcasters?

6. I expect the mainstream media to be much more aggressive and unsympathetic, with all the Williams “false memories’ rationalizations magically absent, if the Mother Jones story hold up. After all, it’s O’Reilly, Fox News, and conservatives. No mercy for those bastards.

7. I wonder if Joe Scarborough was behind this…

I was on Bill’s show (about Beyonce’s lip-synching at the Inauguration), and he was wonderful to me. I got positive feedback from the appearance, and he said they would look for opportunities to have me back.

Well, that’s the end of that gig…

Update: Bill’s response, to The Blaze, is here. He says it all a lie, stands by his previous statements, calls the story  a politically motivated hit piece (it is, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be accurate), and calls Corn a moron. That’ s Bill. I hope he can back it all up.

_______________________

Facts: Mother Jones

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A Hung Ethics Jury On Fox’s Broadcast Of The Isis Burning Video

jordan-pilot

The burning ethics issue of the moment is in the field of broadcast journalism, and Ethics Alarms is obligated to weigh in.

Who is right, the pundits are asking: Fox News, for defiantly posting on its website the 22-minute video from the Islamic State terror group that shows Jordanian pilot Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh being burned to death, or all the other U.S. news organizations that have refused to do so?

Fox’s decision has been criticized by its own media ethics watchdog, Howard Kurtz, as excessive and unnecessary, and by anti-terrorism experts, who unanimously say that this plays into the ISIS strategy. Malcolm Nance of the Terror Asymmetrics Project on Strategy, Tactics and Radical Ideology said the Fox was “literally – literally – working for al-Qaida and Isis’s media arm. They might as well start sending them royalty checks.”

Here are the Ethics Alarms observations on the controversy. The short version: I doubt everyone’s motives here, and nobody on any side of the journalism ethics debate is consistent or trustworthy. Unlike me.

1. Here are the relevant tenets of the Code of Conduct of the Society of Professional Journalists. Continue reading

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