Fair and balanced? Alleged Fox News internal memo shows hostility to Democrats

On November 14, The Huffington Post website posted “an internal Fox News memo written by the network's Vice President of news,” which “details Fox's game plan the day Democrats won control of both the Senate and the House.” According to the memo: “The elections and [former Defense Secretary Donald H.] Rumsfeld's resignation were a major event, but not the end of the world,” and: “The war on terror goes on without interruption.”

The Huffington Post highlighted the memo's suggestion to “be on the lookout for any statements from the Iraqi insurgents, who must be thrilled at the prospect of a Dem-controlled congress.” The memo also smeared House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), a candidate for House majority leader, noting: “In the House, the newly empowered Dems will shed some fraternal blood before settling in. [Rep. John P.] Murtha [D-PA] will challenge Hoyer for the leadership. A former hawk v. a political hack.” The memo concluded: “Just because Dems won, the war on terror isn't over.”

The Huffington Post identified the memo's alleged author only as “the network's Vice President of news.” The header at the top of the memo identifies the “Writer” as “moody.” John Moody is Fox News' senior vice president for news editorial. According to his Fox News biography, Moody “is responsible for both the design and editorial direction of FOX News Channel and oversees all story content for FOX News.” As Media Matters for America and Salon.com have noted, some of Moody's daily memos to Fox News staffers, described as “marching orders” by a former Fox News employee, were highlighted in documentary filmmaker Robert Greenwald's 2004 film, Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism (Brave New Films).

The following are excerpts from memos Moody wrote before and during the 2004 presidential campaign:

  • On President Bush: “His political courage and tactical cunning ar[e] [wo]rth noting in our reporting through the day.” (6/03/03)
  • On the 9/11 Commission: “Do not turn this into Watergate. Remember the fleeting sense of national unity that emerged from this tragedy. Let's not desecrate that.” (3/23/04)
  • On the war in Iraq: “Do not fall into the easy trap of mourning the loss of US lives and asking out loud why are we there? The US is in Iraq to help a country brutalized for 30 years protect the gains made by Operation Iraqi Freedom and set it on the path to democracy. Some people in Iraq don't want that to happen. That is why American GIs are dying. And what we should remind our viewers.” (4/06/04)