Saturday, October 02, 2004

Beyond Spin, Fox News Takes a Turn Towards the Bizarre

Well at least there's no redemption for Fox. Even for Fox News, yesterday’s disinformation and obfuscation seems extreme. First came the Carl Cameron fake Kerry quote fiasco, which was eventually debunked and disavowed by the editor (archived here). Although the Kerry manicure myths are no longer posted, however, there’s yet another highly suspect piece spreading fake news and innuendo online at Foxnews.com.

Parts of the Foxnews.com article "Some Voters Still Flip-Flop after Debate," (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,134268,00.html) by Jane Roh may have been meant to be tongue-in-cheek or subtly sarcastic. Either way, it's unclear, and entirely unsuccessful as political humor. Instead, Roh's article is presented as a straight news, chronicling viewer reactions to last night's debate.

Despite the serious subject matter and presentation, however, the writer does not seem to recognize, or at least does not indicate to her readers, that one of the debate watchers she interviewed and quoted as a "Kerry supporter" is unquestionably, completely, and, yes, somewhat amusingly, a member of a fictitious group, whose anti-Kerry web site (http://communistsforkerry.com/) is devoted to ridiculing all things left - communism, socialism, liberalism in general, and above all, Senator John Kerry.

Roh writes:
"Of course, there were some Kerry supporters in attendance who had no doubts whatever about their candidate."We're trying to get Comrade Kerry elected and get that capitalist enabler George Bush out of office," said 17-year-old Komoselutes Rob of Communists for Kerry."Even though he, too, is a capitalist, he supports my socialist values more than President Bush," Rob said, before assuring FOXNews.com that his organization was not a parody group. When asked his thoughts on Washington's policy toward Communist holdout North Korea, Rob said: "The North Koreans are my comrades to a point, and I'm sure they support Comrade Kerry, too.""

Lest anyone doubt, there's ample evidence that this is a bogus group. This is immediately apparent upon even the most cursory visit to that web site (http://communistsforkerry.com/), which boasts these alternating headlines:

"Foreign interests are more important than American interests,"
"Our party deserves another chance, because a hundred years of failure means nothing"
"Give Uranium to Iranium"
And "Stop the economic boom created by George W. Bush!"

Could anyone have thought they were a serious group, one that was actually worth quoting? Clearly not! Even Fox writers are smarter and more insightful than that.However, if this section of the article was meant as humor, Ms. Roh's style is a bit too subtle. Subtle enough, in fact, to be misleading, but still maintain plausible deniability as to her intentions. I'm sure Fox News would like us to give Ms. Roh the benefit of the doubt that she obviously recognized this was a joke, and published it as such; and that Roh, like her colleague Carl Cameron earlier with his fake Kerry quotes that Fox editors now admit were "written in jest and should not have been posted or broadcast," meant no harm and bore no "malice."

Right. Well, it would have been nice if she shared this key bit of information with her audience, rather than allowing many of Fox's more gullible or less critical visitors, ones who may have read the article quickly, or perhaps didn't choose to click on the link, to be left with the wrong impression about John's Kerry's supporters and affiliations. That would have been nice, right?

Or, would that kind of clarity, given the Fox ethos, have been entirely beside the point?

-Carole Bell

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