Irony is dead: Fox News exec urges staffers to be “fair” and “impartial”

Mediaite has an internal from managing editor Bill Sammon. It's in response to the (shocking!) revelation that at least one member of the Fox News team was whipping up the 9/12 crowd prior to a live report, pretending it was a studio audience. Which, of course, it pretty much was considering Fox News was an unofficial sponsor of the event.

But the video has been a huge embarrassment. (Hey, live by raw video, die by raw video, right?) So Sammon typed up a memo and said all the things that normal journalists would say in this situation. The funny part, of course, is that Fox News no longer practices journalism. Instead, it's transformed itself into the Opposition Party of the Obama White House, so Sammon's supposedly straight-faced pleas for impartiality read more like a clever parody.

I'll simply highlight my favorite phrases from the up-is-down memo. Feel free to chuckle along.

From Mediaite:

From: Sammon, Bill
Sent: Monday, September 21, 2009 2:25 PM
To: 005 -Washington
Subject: standards

For those of us who have only been at Fox for a relatively short period of time, it's useful to remind ourselves that, as journalists, we must always be careful to cover the story without becoming part of the story. At news events, we're supposed to function as dispassionate observers, not active participants. We are there to chronicle the news, not create it.

That means we ask questions in a fair, impartial manner. When approaching interviewees, we identify ourselves, by both name and news organization, up front. We seek out a variety of voices and views. We take note of the scene in order to bring color and context to our viewers.

We do not cheerlead for one cause or another. We do not rile up a crowd. If a crowd happens to be boisterous when we show it on TV, so be it. If it happens to be quiet, that's fine, too. It's not our job to affect the crowd's behavior one way or the other. Again, we're journalists, not participants — and certainly not performers.

Indeed, any effort to affect the crowd's behavior only serves to undermine our legitimate journalistic role as detached eyewitnesses. Remember, our viewers are counting on us to be honest brokers when it comes to reporting — not altering –the important events of the day. That is nothing less than a sacred trust. We must always take pains to preserve that trust.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss this further, please stop by.