As part of its coverage of the NFL opener for the Chicago Bears, Fox Sports wanted to use as graphics some news media headlines from last season that questioned Bears quarterback Jay Cutler’s courage and guts in the NFC Championship game, when he left the field with an injury that some felt Cutler should have played through. It couldn’t find any such headlines, however because there weren’t any. No problem: Fox just had its crack graphics department make some up.
Fox flashed three newspaper headlines across the screen:
Cutler Leaves With Injury
Cutler Lacks Courage
Cutler’s No Leader
Fox announcer Daryl Johnston then told viewers that “these are the actual headlines from the local papers in Chicago.” But one of those local papers, the Tribune, decided to check. There were no “actual headlines” like those, in Chicago, or anywhere else. Caught in an outright misrepresentation, Fox Sports came clean, sort of.
“The wrong word was used,” said Dan Bell, Fox Sports spokesman. “Our attempt was to capture the overall sentiment nationwide following that game.”
Let me translate for Fox. It wasn’t that the wrong word “was used”—a Fox Sports announcer intentionally used it. The “wrong word” was “actual,” when the right word would have been “fake.” Fox News’ “attempt” was to lie to its audience, to juice up a story.
Back when the News Corp scandal involving illegal phone hacking broke, I wrote this about Fox owner Rupert Murdoch and his media empire:
“There are few clichés more inevitably true than “the fish rots from the head down.” In ethics, it is the leader who sets the standards. The Murdoch media empire does not merely foster an ethically shaky culture, not just an ethically-flawed culture, but a shameless culture that doesn’t value ethics at all.
“Is there any way the American public, knowing this, can or should trust any Murdock-owned media?
“No. Of course not.”
Of course not.
[Thanks to Rick Jones for the tip]