Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...


Saturday, November 01, 2003  

In the comments to yesterday's satirical Memo, a reader named Katie posted a fairly interesting comment. Thought I'd just place it here in the main blog. Following are a few thoughts.

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I worked at FOX (guest relations, resigned because my husband had to move to California), and that is not a memo (the memo has around 5-8 points, and are all on the day's focus on news, not commentary). Do note, you sign a contract that you won't leak anything inside FOX or you'll be sued to high heavens.

FOX does have a conservative bent, that is... it's more conservative than any other network, but that doesn't mean it's bias. We have people with stopwatches who make sure Hannity & Colmes has the same amount of time and we have a team of liberals who try to get on guests, though most refuse to come on. (We usually pay liberals more than conservatives to come on). And I can't count the times I've been hung-up on from liberals.

Anyways, the Memo usually says stuff like:

- Call "Partial Birth Abortion" what it is, Partial Birth Abortion
- Ask liberal guests this, ask conservative guests this. Make sure you ask this, etc.

Sure, sometimes it says stuff like "Ask Krugman about the poorandstupid.com thing," but I wouldn't call that a "bias." That's just confronting liberals with things they wouldn't be confronted with on CNN or ABC.

One thing, though, everyone in the newsroom loathes other networks. FOX NEWS workers are very very loyal (mostly because they're conservative), and they're always checking the ratings and making sure FOX is on top. I guess that's good, though, as they're the #1 Cable News station.
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I have no idea whether Katie's legit or not (as usual, she gives no actual contact info). But some of the things she writes incline me to believe her. In particular, she seems to guilelessly support Fox's "unbiased" thesis, while obviously demonstrating it ("Fox does have a conservative bent").

If Katie is legit, then there's something interesting about Fox's Memo. Yesterday, I tried to imagine what a pro-bias exhortation would look like. I assumed it would be only suggestive (as some of the statements in the Romenenko piece seemed to be). Overtly telling correspondents what to say isn't only biased, it's pretty horrible journalism. If such a memo did get leaked, it would be a damning confirmation of Fox's critics: it would be exposed as unfair and unbalanced commentary masquerading as journalism. All of which makes me ever more interested to see one.

Anyway, Katie, thanks for the insight. And, if you're zooming me with your own satire, good show--you got me.

posted by Jeff | 8:57 AM |
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