Beyond Glenn Beck: Fox News' Fundamental Dishonesty Problem
Blog ››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN & KEVIN ZIEBER
Of all the things that Glenn Beck's awkward transition off Fox News says about the so-called news organization, it certainly says nothing about Fox developing a sudden intolerance for dishonesty.
All along, there was never any indication that Fox News actually held Beck accountable for the litany of falsehoods and deceptive editing he used to smear progressives. And all the evidence at hand makes perfectly clear that Beck's departure is in no way a result of Fox News suddenly opting to hold him accountable for that routine dishonesty.
After all, the Fox stable has no shortage of commenters who still get paid despite a proclivity for mendacity.
Fox News Washington managing editor Bill Sammon -- repeatedly exposed trying to slant the news -- actually bragged that he used his position at Fox to lie in an attempt at linking President Obama to socialism in the waning days of the 2008 campaign. Sammon called it "mischievous speculation."
Sean Hannity's recent special on liberal bias in the media employed such blatantly deceptive editing that it prompted media critic Howard Kurtz to call one example an "absolute slam dunk case of misleading editing."
Bill O'Reilly lied about the content of his own show, absurdly denying that anyone on Fox ever said that individuals could be put in jail for failing to purchase health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Covering up a lie with another lie doesn't undo the lie.
Speaking of The O'Reilly Factor, Fox News' Gretchen Carlson used a recent appearance to claim that 35 percent of people paying the in-state tuition rate at University of California schools were "illegals." That's just making stuff up. The actual figure is 0.34 percent.
Fox News' Dick Morris fabricated conversations he had with Bill Clinton to conjure up a conspiracy theory about Janet Reno threatening Clinton that she would "tell the truth" about Waco. Morris later explained that this was just "conjecture" that needed to be separated from "the facts."
Deception, as it turns out, is central to the Fox Cycle, wherein the so-called news organization helps funnel bogus right-wing attacks into the mainstream. This relationship became clear as Fox News aggressively hyped the phony New Black Panther Party scandal during the summer of 2010. That pseudo-scandal -- centered on the bogus charge that the Obama Justice Department was racist, as evidenced by its supposed refusal to protect white voters from intimidation at the hands of minorities -- never held up to a simple review of the facts. Fox News got around that by simply ignoring the facts that would have exposed the lie.
Fox News lied about Senate procedures. Fox News lied about Obama giving back a "major strip" of land to Mexico. Fox News lied about Obama trying to ban sports fishing. Fox News lied about health care reform waivers.
Fox News' reputation for dishonesty is so well known that it became a rallying cry for pro-labor protestors in Wisconsin last winter.
The reasons Fox News is transitioning away from Glenn Beck remain unclear. Undoubtedly, the flight of advertisers away from his show and his precipitous decline in ratings became an issue.
But let there be no mistake: Nothing indicates at this point that Fox News is prepared to behave like a responsible news organization and hold its people accountable for dishonesty.