Gee, there might be a larger cultural issue inside Fox News, cont'd

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

Well that was fun while it lasted.

As Jeremy Schulman spelled out on CF last night, you can pretty much throw away Fox News' supposed "zero tolerance" policy for making newsroom blunders. After Fox News made a string of sloppy whoppers in recent weeks , execs claimed they were going to clean house, get back to basics, hold everyone responsible, and some people might even get fired! Because, darn it, Fox News plays home to real journalists, or so claimed the Fox News team.

But as MMA highlighted yesterday, it's all BS. Fox News was caught, yet again, making the type of mistake that would cause red faces at a community access channel. And the cabler's response? It just tried to spin it away. (Read here why the spin was almost as embarrassing as the original blunder.)

Big surprise? Hardly. Fox News simply has no track record of holding accountable employees who regularly commit all kinds of crimes against journalism. (Y'know, like its anchors.)

But perhaps even more importantly, the latest transgression highlights again how Fox News and journalism just don't mix. Because when newsroom blunders crop up, actual news organizations try to figure what went wrong and then takes steps to safeguard them from ever being repeated. But since Fox News doesn't really function as a news outlet any more (it's a purely political entity), it's no surprise that that kind of introspection does not take place. Even after the cabler touted a "zero tolerance" policy for mistakes, it still found a way to explain away its latest gaffe, rather than hold anybody accountable.

My point is, how can Fox News brass suddenly force a "zero tolerance" policy onto a newsroom staff that really doesn't do news? (i.e. It's Greek to them) And we keep seeing the proof. How else would the wrong video mysteriously be pulled from the Fox News archives and inserted into a wildly misleading Sean Hannity report about a right-wing protest? Why else would a Fox News producer treat a political rally like an in-studio audience and pump up partisan members off-camera just moment before a live "news" report?

The mistakes that routinely tumble out of Fox News are not the same kinds of mistakes that get made at the competition. They don't get made at CNN, for instance, and they don't get made at ABC News. They don't get made at those place because CNN an ABC are actual news operations. Fox News is not.

So why Fox News execs ever thought they could institute a "zero tolerance" policy remains a mystery, since there seems be a culture within Fox News where everyday staffers have decided there are no rules left; that they don't actually work for a "news" organization.

And honestly, can you blame them?

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