Someone has engaged in an organized effort to smear the reputation and credibility of Jane Mayer, a prize-winning journalist at The New Yorker, according to a New York Post reporter's published accounts and his subsequent statements to Media Matters.
Last week, the New York Post's Keith Kelly reported that The Daily Caller, a right-wing news site run by Tucker Carlson, had spent "several weeks" pursuing false allegations that Mayer had committed plagiarism in at least two articles. One of the allegations involved Mayer's landmark expose about Charles and David Koch -- billionaire brothers who have funded conservative organizations tied to the Tea Party movement.
Kelly tells Media Matters that the plagiarism charges were also pitched to the Post, apparently by a different source than the one that tipped off the Daily Caller. The Post investigated and ultimately reported that the allegations were untrue.
After first saying that the plagiarism story would result in an "extensive piece," The Daily Caller ultimately told both Kelly and The New Yorker that the article had been spiked.
Kelly has reported that "the person or persons behind the allegations remains a shadowy mystery," and both Carlson and Daily Caller reporter Jonathan Strong have declined to identify the original source of the smear.
The Daily Caller has significant ties to the Koch brothers and to the business they run: Koch Industries.
Foster Friess, a billionaire Republican donor who reportedly put up $3 million to help launch The Daily Caller, participated last summer in a secret strategy meeting in Aspen intended to help the conservative movement combat the "threats" posed by the Obama administration. The event, which included a lecture by Glenn Beck, was organized by Koch Industries and attended by the Koch brothers.
Anchorman John Roberts' decision to jump from CNN to Fox News has some media observers and critics wondering if he will be able to keep his straight news approach to reporting or be forced to "drink the Kool-Aid" or become "Foxified," as some have put it.
CNN and Fox announced earlier this week that Roberts, recently removed from CNN's morning show, would become an Atlanta-based reporter for Fox News. CNN has said it was in discussions with Roberts to work out of Atlanta, as he had wished, but the Fox deal ended such discussions.
What will the move mean for Roberts and Fox?
"Fox has a well-established framework and everyone who joins Fox becomes a part of that framework," said Eric Deggans, media critic for The St. Petersburg Times. "The question I always have is how much of the Fox Kool-Aid are they going to drink? I think much of that depends on how much of a life do they want to have outside of the Fox life?
"Bill Hemmer is very much a part of that process," he said, citing another former CNN person who has risen to prominence at Fox. "Then you look at some of their reporters. Wendell Goler plays it as down the middle as someone at Fox can do. It is hard for someone to be a high-profile anchor at Fox and not be complicit in the way the channel leans to the right. I assume when anyone high-profile like John Roberts agrees to go work for them, they have already done that deal with the devil in their head.
"Fox's branding and framework and process is so strong that everyone who appears on Fox is subservient to it in one way or another. How do they want to fit into that formula and how far are they willing to do? I think there are very few people who join that operation in a high-profile way who then can leave and be considered a more traditional, down the middle reporter. Even some of the people who are more independent like Chris Wallace and Shepard Smith have still kind of been co-opted in ways that they do have to prove that they are separate from that."
Roberts declined comment to Media Matters, referring request to CNN and Fox.
Joanne Ostrow, Denver Post TV critic, said Roberts needs to be watched to know for sure.
"I don't know what his personal politics are, or his motivation for going there," she said. "You have to wonder if he's somehow content to go along with the regime over there. It helps Fox to have more of these recognized names that come from more mainstream networks.
"He is supposed to be Mr. Journalism. I want to wait and see. I don't know his motivation or his personal politics. It will be interesting if we say a month from now 'yeah, he is drinking the Kool-Aid.'
"They have gone after some good folks, but I don't know if they share their political agenda."
Hub Brown, associate professor in broadcast and digital journalism at The Newhouse School at Syracuse University, said he fears for the future for Roberts.
"He has a great reputation and he is a great professional and I do fear for the future for him a little bit because I have not seen too many people who have gone to Fox and not have had to sort of march to the Fox tune," Brown said. "To his great credit, Shepard Smith has been able to avoid doing that. If he can be in the kind of mold of Shepard Smith that probably helps him and it helps Fox.
"If he becomes a typical Fox anchor, that credibility will go away. Their entire line-up, they basically editorialize from the news desk 24/7. There is no one who can be an objective viewer of news and not see that. It will be interesting to see."
Gail Shister, a former longtime TV critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer and currently at TVNewser.com, said it is up to Roberts.
"I think Fox has made some impressive hires lately, I don't think it will hurt him. I think it is a great get for Fox," she said. "It will not hurt him as long as he does straight reporting."
Robert Bianco of USA Today, meanwhile, said Fox's history with former CNN people does not bode well for Roberts.
"If they have hired him to be a journalist and bolster their journalism credential, than that is a good sign," Bianco said. "If he has gone there for the freedom to express his political opinions, whatever they are, as many reporters seem to do, than that is not a good sign. That has certainly been the pattern, but I would not want to guess that that is what he intends to do.
"I have no problem with any of Fox's talk shows, I think that is where opinion belongs. I do disagree when they insert opinion in what is supposed to be a news show. We have to wait and see if he behaves like a journalist on these shows or like a masked commentator."
Al Tompkins, a Poynter Institute senior faculty member in broadcasting, pointed out that Fox taking another CNN person as it continues to criticize CNN is a bit hypocritical.
"That does force you to wonder how Fox keeps hammering away at CNN, then hiring away some of CNN's higher profile folks," he said. "What they are saying is that it is something about the culture of CNN more than the individual. Fox definitely has a way of being and the people who go there tend to adapt to that way of being pretty quickly.
"It has a much clearer conservative attitude, much more likely to be critical of the administration, not just the administrations actions, but the administration more generally."
He then used the term, Foxified, describing it as: "a much sharper tone and I think it would be right to call it a conservative tone. These folks who have made the move adapt to that voice pretty quickly."
"Others I think have found their Fox voice - there is a pretty discernible difference between a Fox voice and a CNN voice. I would describe the difference as Fox is more conservative, more Republican. I would describe the CNN voice as more neutral. If you go to Fox, you go there knowing that the tone of your reporting will be different than the tone of your reporting at CNN, mostly.
"Fox has more of a Republican and conservative voice and most people seem to adapt to that. The anchors seem to be the ones who set the tone. The anchors have such a larger role.
"He will have to show himself to be valuable to Fox viewers. He'll cover things that they care about in a way that makes sense to them. The tone you sense of Fox is more anchor induced than reporter induced."
Two congressional experts have dismissed claims by some in the conservative media that the U.S. Senate is acting improperly or going against precedent as it considers a filibuster rule change by extending the Senate day and using a simple majority vote.
Ed Morrissey at HotAir.com criticized Senate proposals to extend the sessions first legislative day to provide more time to consider rules changes:
Surprise! Despite the clamor on the Left to "reform" the filibuster now that Democrats have lost most of their Senate majority, some Democrats have looked ahead to the next election and balked at making the majority omnipotent. A flurry of proposals to change the rules to end or neuter the filibuster have clogged the process, with none of them gaining a consensus. "Reform" backers have become so desperate that they want to change the definition of a day in order to get more vote.
At The Daily Caller, Elizabeth Letchworth took issue with Democratic senators' claims that the Senate is not a continuous body, and thus can change its rules on the first legislative day of the session by majority vote:
Where does Sen. Reid get the idea that the Senate is not a continuous body? Maybe he should read the U.S. Senate website, which clearly states what the Senate has lived by for over 200 years. The site reaffirms that when our founding fathers created the Senate, they clearly intended for it to be a continuous body, since two-thirds of senators continue serving notwithstanding the elections that are held every two years.
But veteran Senate experts tell Media Matters such views are inaccurate.
Norm Ornstein, a resident scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute and a respected authority on congressional procedures, criticized coverage of the proposed filibuster change.
"I have seen it on Fox and on some of the blogs. It is unfortunate that we get less reporting and more polemics, polemics that become even more wince-worthy because they are so ahistorical and one-sided."
"So much of the history about this is being ignored," Ornstein added.
Ornstein knocked down the conservative claim that the Senate is acting improperly by seeking to extend the Senate day beyond 24 hours: "the Senate has often defined a legislative day to last more than one day. This is unconventional, but not improper."
Steven Smith, a congressional expert and Washington University in St. Louis political science professor, agreed.
"It has been done hundreds of times, it is not improper and it is done in order for the convenience of the Senate," Smith said. "The rules allow for a certain number of activities that occur in each Senate day and a recess continues the legislative day from one calendar day to the next. That happens with considerable frequency. Both parties have availed themselves of that option with great frequency."
Both Ornstein and Smith also took issue with the contention that the Senate is a continuous body and thus rules cannot be changed with a simple majority. According to Ornstein: "It is the case as Tom Udall has pointed out pretty extensively that you are not moving into uncharted territory to say that the Senate is not a continuing body."
"The vice-president can declare it and Nelson Rockefeller and Hubert Humphrey have done it."
On the issue of rule changes, Smith adds: "Even if the current Senate rules provide for a super majority cloture on any matter related to the rules, the Constitution trumps the existing rule and practices of the Senate. Some Democrats have argued that they should operate accordingly.
"There is a legitimate argument based on the Constitution that a simple majority should have a right to reconsider the rules."
Smith also said critics are ignoring historical fact:
"The Constitution allows a majority to revisit the rules. I personally believe the Constitution allows it to revisit the rules at any time."
Ilona Nickels, a congressional analyst and lecturer for the Brookings Institute and Georgetown University and a former C-SPAN Congressional scholar, also weighed in:
"They have a right to do it and it is not at all unusual for the senate to discuss rules changes every two years. That is the logical time in which it is done," she said. "That is not unusual. I wouldn't call it an abuse of power."
Conservative former Congressman Zach Wamp, R-Tenn., who left office earlier this week after 16 years, said he has pitched an idea for a weekly political commentary slot to CNN and MSNBC, but not Fox.
He said Fox News has said they are not interested, and he added that Fox sometimes has "just too much defense of and protection of one viewpoint."
"I think there are shows on Fox that are very balanced and objective, but there are times when there is just too much defense of and protection of one viewpoint. That is their inherent right. I don't want to contrast what's being done, I want to try to fill this vacuum of what needs to be done out there."
"I have pitched to CNN and MSNBC the notion of this show and potentially some commentary on what's called a contributorship by me as part of my portfolio of work after leaving Congress to just go on and be more of that objective analyst for what is really the truth here."
Wamp said he never got a chance to approach Fox because a network spokesperson told a reporter they were not interested before he could present the idea.
"I made the mistake of speaking out about this, and someone in the media asked Fox if they had talked to me about this and someone at Fox said they were not interested in this."
Fox News declined to comment, while CNN and MSNBC did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Wamp's proposal and views.
Wamp, a self-described conservative who lost a race for governor of Tennessee in 2010, said he is seeking to do some kind of political commentary show, citing Morning Joe and Hardball on MSNBC as good models.
"I think my friend Joe Scarborough does about as good a job as anyone in television in the morning slot on Morning Joe," he said, later adding, "I have been on Hardball a half dozen times with Chris Matthews and he and I could not disagree more on policy, but there is this mutual respect between the two of us that comes through clear as a bell.
"You don't need a host that says you are only going to come on my show if I can trash you and talk over you or shut you off when I am ready to."
Wamp's comments followed recent statements he had made criticizing the negative elements of 24-hour cable television.
"What I've seen in the media, what I would call the degradation of accuracy through the media is because 24/7 television talk has created ratings-driven entertainment in the name of journalism," he told Media Matters. "I respect it because it sells advertising dollars, it is a business. New network empires have been created because of entertainers who can drive major advertising dollars. All of that is great and this is the American system and freedom of the airways and that's fine.
"When we're talking about public policy in America and you are very serious about it and you don't want it all dumbed down to the lowest common denominator...many of these issues are incredibly complex and I don't believe there is enough critical analysis."
"I kind of miss the Crossfire approach and I certainly miss the John McLaughlin Group being more prominent."
Asked about his views on Fox News' part in the negative impact, Wamp said: "With the right panel, a weekly one-hour show would be watched far more than Huckabee's was watched or Kasich's was watched because it would be interesting, informative and have an appeal that is refreshingly different than what you see today."
But he said his proposal would likely not make it on Fox given the network's current contracts with other high-profile GOP names, including several of the potential Republican presidential contenders that Media Matters has reported on for months.
"I understand that Fox's contributorships between Newt [Gingrich] and Karl Rove and [Mike] Huckabee and [Sarah] Palin and others, they've paid big money for their contributors and their analysts and I'm way down at another level leaving Congress," Wamp said. "Right now, Fox dominates the ratings, so I think CNN and MSNBC are ripe for new direction."
Asked specifically about Glenn Beck's program, Wamp added: "They can do what they are doing but there is still room for this fresh new approach. There is a lot of books being sold and a lot of money being made and I think there are a lot of people who are still confused out there."
"It drives ratings to be polarizing, but it does little for the Republic. It drives ratings to be divisive, but it does little to solve the problems of our country. I don't see the media as being that objective analyzer of what's going on."
Among the most controversial reactions to the landmark repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell was a recent column at WorldNetDaily by Joseph Farah, in which he essentially urged soldiers and those interested in becoming soldiers not to serve in the U.S. Military.
"As much as I respect and admire the U.S. military as an institution, I would find myself actively encouraging men and women to leave - in droves," Farah, who oversees the well-read site, wrote in the column posted December 17 before the repeal occurred.
"If the U.S. military is going to be transformed into just another tool of twisted social engineering, rather than a force designed to defend America's national security interests, dedicated, brave and upstanding young men and women should no longer participate of their own free will," Farah added. "It's just that simple. Let the politicians cobble together a military of social deviants if they think they can."
The column drew several critical responses from those in the news business and those who follow military and gay rights issues, ranging from one who called it "irresponsible" to another describing it as "disgusting bigotry."
Mike Triplett, vice president of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and top blogger on the group's website, blasted Farah's column.
"It is clearly, incredibly irresponsible. This is a good example of the kind of irresponsible commentary that goes on so often in the conservative press," he said. "It is unfortunate that there is so much irrational vindictive inside the conservative press and that it gets linked to by conservative bloggers and legitimate press. That is of greater concern, they are linked by more legitimate people."
Ashwin Madia, an Iraq War veteran and interim chairman of VoteVets.org, stated in an e-mail response to the column:
"It's disappointing to hear someone demand that brave American men and women stop serving their country because of his blind hatred for a particular group of people. Fortunately, those who have served in today's military - including leadership from every branch - are rightfully confident that every survey of service members is correct and this repeal will have little effect on recruitment, retention, and readiness."
He also added, "...the disgusting bigotry of Mr. Farah makes very clear who has rightfully earned the title of 'social deviant.'"
Col. Dave Lapan, a U.S. Department of Defense public affairs officer, dismissed Farah's column.
"We see editorials and opinions all the time and people are free to have opinions," Lapan said. "I would suspect that most people in the military are serving for other reasons and wouldn't listen to that type of admonition for people.
"The military is, if nothing else, a meritocracy, people advance because they are good at what they do, regardless of where they grew up or what gender they are or what racial group they grew up with."
Lapan added: "Historically, when other militaries have made this change, those who reported that the change would cause them to either leave the service or not join the service severely overestimated what actually happened in practice. Very small numbers actually followed through on that."
Jarrod Chlapowski, field and development director of Service Members United -- the largest gay and lesbian troop organization - said predictions of military problems are unfounded.
"They made much more dire predictions about white soldiers leaving the military during the integration of African-Americans in the military and it did not occur," said Chlapowski, an Army veteran who served from 2000 to 2005.
He said reactions like Farah's are not a surprise, but hardly the majority viewpoint: "We won our biggest gay rights victory yet and this is what you will see. Yes, the media should not be advocating something that is clearly wrong and incorrect, but it is an opinion column and he is entitled to it. The implementation of the repeal will be the best education in that regard, it will demonstrate that it is not an issue. We are at a point where we are not arguing for repeal, it is actually happening."
A top professor at the University of Maryland School for Public Policy, which released a scathing report last week ranking Fox News a leading source of misinformation, said the network's response to the report was "bizarre."
Prof. I.M. Distler is on the advisory board of WorldPublicOpinion.org, which released the report titled, "Misinformation on the 2010 Election: A Study of the U.S. Electorate."
Among its findings:
Those who watched Fox News almost daily were significantly more likely than those who never watched it to believe that:
* Most economists estimate the stimulus caused job losses.
* Most economists have estimated the health care law will worsen the deficit.
* The economy is getting worse.
* Most scientists do not agree that climate change is occurring.
* The stimulus legislation did not include any tax cuts.
* Their own income taxes have gone up.
* The auto bailout only occurred under Obama.
* When TARP came up for a vote most Republicans opposed it.
* And that it is not clear that Obama was born in the United States.
These effects increased incrementally with increasing levels of exposure and all were statistically significant. The effect was also not simply a function of partisan bias, as people who voted Democratic and watched Fox News were also more likely to have such misinformation than those who did not watch it -- though by a lesser margin than those who voted Republican.
The New York Times reported that the report found, among other things, "regular viewers of the Fox News Channel, which tilts to the right in prime time, were significantly more likely to believe untruths about the Democratic health care overhaul, climate change and other subjects."
But when the Times asked Fox News for reaction to the survey, Michael Clemente, Fox senior vice president of news editorial, said in a statement:
The latest Princeton Review ranked the University of Maryland among the top schools for having 'Students Who Study The Least' and being the 'Best Party School' - given these fine academic distinctions, we'll regard the study with the same level of veracity it was 'researched' with."
Distler called the response "bizarre" and "irrelevant."
"That was bizarre. It's a silly response," Distler told Media Matters Monday. "At least that particular [Fox] spokesman chose not to challenge the study on its merits but to make an essentially irrelevant criticism of the university. And probably a dubious criticism of the university."
Distler added, "I thought it was interesting that they didn't say the report is based on a bad sample or the questions were the wrong questions, they try to characterize the place as a party school. Whether or not that is true, it has nothing to do with what scholars and analysts associated with the university do. It is totally irrelevant."
Distler went on to point out what he believed were key elements of the findings as relates to Fox News coverage of certain issues.
"The stuff to me that is most amazing is about the stimulus, that more people think it hasn't worked than people think it has," Distler said. "But the fact that you pour all that money into the economy and it doesn't make a difference is not very plausible."
Asked what part Fox had in that viewpoint, he said, "Fox is among those who are active in promoting critical views of the administration and they have a substantial audience so I am sure they play a role.
"Like a lot of people, I think it is unfortunate that the sort of advocacy journalism in which a network seems to believe it must push a certain point of view rather than tell it straight is troublesome and Fox has been the most successful in following this particular mode, that's a problem."
Distler also pointed to Fox's part in climate change misinformation: "There is clearly a consensus that climate change is going on and the prospects are that it will accelerate in the future if further action isn't taken. The notion that there isn't a consensus is wrong. If the media is where a lot of people get their information from, the media must be responsible."
"I think Fox is by general consent the leading and most successful practitioner of that sort of news reporting with a point of view. Opinion journalism is very important, but the problem is blurring the line between [news and opinion]."
Fox News did not respond to requests for comment Monday.
Another global warming researcher who had been cited by News Corp. as an expert has criticized Fox News' effort to slant reporting on the issue.
Media Matters disclosed this week an e-mail from Fox News Washington managing editor Bill Sammon that questioned the "veracity of climate change data" and ordered the network's journalists to "refrain from asserting that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question."
Eileen Claussen, president of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, criticized Fox News Friday after Media Matters revealed the slanting effort.
Claussen issued this statement in response to the Sammon e-mail story:
The science of climate change is clear and undeniably strong. The world is warming, and human activities, primarily the burning of fossil fuels, are the main cause. This fact is supported by an overwhelming majority of qualified scientists, and to present it a different way distorts the facts. Most media outlets try to maintain a high level of factual basis in their reporting. And my interactions with News Corp. officials reflect an organization that believes we must act now to advance climate solutions. But based on its newly-revealed directive, Fox News either does not understand the facts, or is attempting to insert fantasy into its reporting and present that fantasy as fact.
News Corp., the parent company of Fox News, has taken positive positions aimed at reducing energy use, supporting the use of renewable power, and pledging to be carbon neutral by this year. I support these actions and encourage their continued efforts to engage employees and other partners in addressing our climate and energy challenge.
Meanwhile, John Llewellyn, who co-wrote The Business of Climate Change II in 2007 for Lehman Brothers, also weighed in on the issue.
Asked to respond to the Sammon e-mail, Llewellyn told Media Matters: "This whole debate depends fundamentally on an honest examination of the evidence. It is always disappointing if you suspect that people are not looking at the evidence objectively. It is hard enough to get to the truth if you are being objective, it is even harder if you are not."
Llewellyn and Claussen's comments follow those of Nicholas Stern of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science and Zoe Tcholak-Antitch, vice-president of the Carbon Disclosure Project, who criticized Fox News on Thursday.
All four were among those cited on a resource list by News Corp.'s Global Energy Initiative as experts on the issue.
The News Corp. Global Energy Initiative, which has not responded to a request for comment, was created in 2007 to raise awareness of the global warming issue.
Fox News also has not responded to requests for comment.
Two members of a House committee focused on global warming issues are criticizing a top Fox News editor for directing reporters to slant coverage of the issue.
Rep. John Hall, D-New York, and Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., took issue with an e-mail sent from Fox News Washington managing editor Bill Sammon to staffers in late 2009.
Media Matters disclosed the e-mail this week from Sammon that questioned the "veracity of climate change data" and ordered the network's journalists to "refrain from asserting that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question."
Hall and Inslee are members of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.
Hall responded by telling Media Matters: "It is what I already know about Fox, which is the coverage is slanted. It is regrettable that Fox's management would issue a directive like this to its supposed reporters ordering them to slant coverage. This is one of the more blatant examples I have seen of that."
Hall said the danger of such an approach is that it makes it difficult for the truth about global warming to be reported and, consequently, for steps to be taken to prevent it.
"The window of time we have left for action to prevent the worst case scenario may still be closing," he said. "We can't afford to waste two years if the changes are already happening. It is really important that the public gets educated. I do think Congress responds to public pressure. If the public is being misinformed, we have very little chance of reversing the trend."
Robert Kellar, communications director for Rep. Inslee, offered this statement in response to the Fox News e-mail:
I can't believe this would be actual news to anyone. FOX has been and continues to be a vehicle for Republican talking points. And this kind of news tampering would have to be organized from the top. No news reporter in their right mind would be so galactically stupid as to come up with this. I'm surprised we didn't see memos telling reporters to mention a controversy on gravity.
On a more serious note, Fox News shouldn't be so cavalier with their power. You may not agree with the policy, but report the facts and have a discussion. Fox has decided that Republican talking points are more important than information, even if it means their viewers wind up underwater.
Fox News has yet to respond to requests for comment on the e-mail.
Two top global warming research groups -- which News Corp. has cited as experts on the issue -- are criticizing Fox News for urging its reporters to slant coverage of the story.
Media Matters' disclosed this week a staff e-mail from Fox News Washington managing editor Bill Sammon that questioned the "veracity of climate change data" and ordered the network's journalists to "refrain from asserting that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question."
Following that disclosure, two spokespeople from groups fighting for awareness of global warming spoke out against Fox's actions. Both are among those cited on a resource list by News Corp.'s Global Energy Initiative as experts on the issue.
The News Corp. Global Energy Initiative, which has not responded to a request for comment, was created in 2007 to raise awareness of the global warming issue.
Among those cited on the News Corp. group's website as an expert is Nicholas Stern of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Stern is author of the 2006 Stern Review, a 700-page report considered by many a prime source for information on global warming.
Bob Ward, a Stern spokesman, criticized Fox for the e-mail and said it is not a surprise.
"You've managed to find the evidence of everything we've suspected. The American people are being deceived by Fox," Ward said. "It's not surprising. We are aware in the U.K. that Fox is a very politically partisan news outlet and appears to be promoting so-called skepticism, which seems to be very prevalent among the Republican Party.
"I don't think anyone has ever been fooled. Their coverage of climate change has been heavily politicized and by no stretch of the imagination is an accurate portrayal of the science.
"The e-mail shows that they seized on an opportunity to try and justify their very partisan and inaccurate coverage of climate change, to cast doubt.
"It is an attempt to deceive the American people. It is quite simple: It is putting its own views ahead of the United States' needs. It is a blatant example of Fox promoting its own political agenda at the expense of the public interest."
Also speaking out is Zoe Tcholak-Antitch, vice-president of the Carbon Disclosure Project, which the News Corp. Global Energy Initiative also cited as a resource.
"It is very disturbing to hear of this e-mail because it just goes further to sow seeds of doubt among the American population then makes it more difficult for the politicians to stand up for any type of legislation on climate change if they want to get elected," she said. "I do believe it is a shame.
"It obviously does have an impact on the American public. We are facing an issue that needs to be dealt with in a timely fashion. The danger is that this delays action. While it exists, it delays action and it hinders politicians from passing laws and regulations that will help a clean energy economy and create jobs for American people."
Anchorman Leon Harris of WJLA TV in Washington, D.C. -- where Fox News reporter Doug McKelway worked until earlier this year -- said he believed McKelway might have wanted to get fired from the station so he could go to a conservative outlet.
"His last couple of years had left a lot of people inside scratching their heads wondering where he was coming from," Harris, a former CNN anchorman, said Sunday. "It seemed like to me from where I sat he was looking like someone who was trying to find a way to be fired. He may have found that he loves conservative bias news coverage and conservative talk and that is where he wanted to be and he might have found a way to get to it."
McKelway, who recently signed on to work in Fox News' D.C. bureau, drew attention earlier this year at WJLA for a controversial news report about a demonstration against oil company contributions to government. In that report, he wrongly claimed that Barack Obama had received the largest campaign contribution ever from BP.
Soon after that report was broadcast, McKelway was suspended following a meeting with WJLA News Director Bill Lord, and later fired. WJLA has said only that McKelway was fired for "insubordination and misconduct," but some staffers told The Washington Post he had gotten into an argument with Lord.
McKelway was hired by Fox News last week.
Lord has declined to comment on the issue and neither McKelway nor Fox has responded to requests for comment.
Last week, several WJLA staffers offered criticisms of McKelway to Media Matters. Harris added to their thoughts, noting that it appeared to him McKelway wanted to take his talents to a place where he could express his conservative views.
"For him to go off the way that he did was almost like somebody trying to pick a fight," Harris added. "The scuttlebutt in the newsroom was 'I wonder if he's got a deal worked out at Fox or talk radio,' the two places we'd thought he'd land. It seemed as though he was trying to orchestrate his own firing."
About the BP story, Harris stated: "I was shocked because he didn't seem like the professional we all thought he was and he seemed like a guy looking for his YouTube moment. If he had an ulterior motive to either go to Fox or get out of his contract or go to talk radio, if I were cynic, that looks and sounds like a guy who has plans to try to get out of his current job to get to another one."
"I know what it looks like when a guy wants to get fired."
Harris also cited an interview on May 7, 2009, that McKelway did on WJLA's Let's Talk Live, with filmmaker and blogger Mike Rogers, who had set about outing gay politicians.
During the segment, McKelway threatened Rogers, saying "I'm about ready to do a lot more than point my finger at you.... I'd take you outside and give you a punch across the face..."
"It was so over the line, it made folks in the newsroom say, 'what the heck is he talking about?'" Harris said. "If you watch how far he goes out of his way to work it into a conservative talk radio type of a rant.
"It wasn't like it was slightly over the line; he jumped over the line with both feet and a pole vault. It was almost as if the guy just snapped. He may have legitimately snapped or it was an orchestrated thing where he decided he would like to do talk radio rather than legitimate news coverage."