Fox News' media critics deflect blame from Fox News on Sherrod story

Fox News' media critics deflect blame from Fox News on Sherrod story

››› ››› MIKE BURNS

This July 24 edition of Fox News Watch -- Fox News' media watchdog program -- whitewashed Fox News' role in amplifying Andrew Breitbart's smear of Shirley Sherrod. In fact, Fox News spent a significant amount of time promoting the false claim that Sherrod made racist remarks at an NAACP dinner earlier this year.

Fox News Watch ignores Fox's role in Sherrod smear

Fox News Watch doesn't mention Fox News' role in attacking Sherrod's character. The July 24 edition of Fox News Watch discussed media coverage of Breitbart's bogus claim that Sherrod made racist remarks at a NAACP banquet but made no mention of Fox News' own role in promoting the smear.

Pinkerton: "The network that carried the story the most number of times was CNN." Indeed, Fox News Watch regular panelist Jim Pinkerton suggested that CNN bore the most blame in promoting the smear. Pinkerton, a Fellow at the New America Foundation, said that Mediaite's Steve Krakauer wrote that "the network that carried the story the most number of times was CNN."

Pinkerton falsely claimed "Glenn Beck never even touched the story." Pinkerton also said during the segment that the White House "completely caved on this thing in fear of Glenn Beck who never even touched the story."

In fact, Fox has repeatedly aired distorted video, attacked Sherrod

Fox News amplifies Breitbart's deceptively edited video. On July 19, reported: "Days after the NAACP clashed with Tea Party members over allegations of racism, a video has surfaced showing an Agriculture Department official regaling an NAACP audience with a story about how she withheld help to a white farmer facing bankruptcy." The article further reported that "[t]he video clip was first posted by" and that " is seeking a response from both the NAACP and the USDA." The article is no longer available on but was republished on another website:

O'Reilly airs Breitbart's Sherrod video. On his Fox News program, Bill O'Reilly stated that "Sherrod was caught on tape saying something very disturbing. Seems a white farmer in Georgia had requested government assistance from Ms. Sherrod." After airing Breitbart's video, O'Reilly stated: "That is simply unacceptable. He also said Sherrod "must resign immediately."

"Fox News Alert": Hannity reports that Sherrod has resigned and discusses the incident with Gingrich. On his Fox News program, Sean Hannity reported that Sherrod "resigned just a short time ago after she was caught on tape appearing to tell an audience that she had used her position to racially discriminate against white farmers." Hannity then aired Breitbart's "shocking video." In a later segment, Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich stated: "Secretary Vilsack did exactly the right thing. I mean I often disagree with this administration. But firing her after that kind of viciously racist attitude was exactly the right thing to do." Hannity later stated: "My only thing is they weren't the ones that caught it. It was on and it happened some time ago. So it's interesting that it took the new media to expose this." (accessed via Nexis)

Hannity's Great American Panel discusses Sherrod video. During the "Great American Panel" segment of Fox News' Hannity, Republican strategist Kate Obenshain stated, "It's just a shame that it takes an expose, it takes Breitbart having to put it on his website, for her resignation to be forced." The Wall Street Journal's John Fund stated: "Obviously no one complained at the Georgia NAACP. No one complained. It would have passed unless they had this video which came out now." Hannity further stated that Sherrod's comments were "racist." (accessed via Nexis)

Sherrod story hits Fox & Friends: "Exhibit A" of "what racism looks like." On Fox News' Fox & Friends, Steve Doocy said Sherrod had been caught "making a speech to the NAACP that sure sounded racist." Co-host Alisyn Camerota then accused Sherrod of "touting this in this anecdote as though this is, you know, a feather in her cap, somehow, for her to be congratulated." Then Camerota and Doocy agreed that the comments were "Exhibit A" as far as "what racism looks like." On-screen text during the segment read, "Racism caught on camera" and "USDA official admits racism on tape; Forced to resign after dicey video leaks."

Ingraham: "Andrew Breitbart ... did a great piece on this whole thing." On Fox & Friends, Laura Ingraham praised Breitbart's video and his coverage of the story, stating "Andrew Breitbart, by the way, did a great piece on this whole thing. Fantastic." Ingraham went on to ask "where was the media on this" and claimed that it took "Breitbart to come forward with this story."

On his radio show, Beck asked, "Have we transformed into 1956?" On his radio show (which is not owned by Fox News), Glenn Beck discussed the Sherrod story and asked, "Excuse me, have we transformed into 1956, only the other way around?" Beck also aired Breitbart's edited Sherrod clip.

Beck: Sherrod "obviously has some sort of Marxist or redistributionist qualities to her." On Fox News show, Beck blasted the administration for firing Sherrod. But he has also attacked Sherrod on his Fox News show, saying that Sherrod should have been made a "czar" because "she fits in" with the "Maoists" in the Obama administration.

Fox News Watch has a history of ignoring criticism of Fox's actions

Fox News Watch has repeatedly ignoring criticism of Fox News media figures. The week that Fox cancelled Sean Hannity's plan to broadcast his show from a tea party event with an admission fee and Bill O'Reilly issued repeated false claims to defend Fox News' coverage of the health care reform legislation, Fox News Watch did not cover either controversy. Fox News Watch also ignored subsequent controversies involving Fox News media figures such as Fox News contributor John Stossel's on-air call for the repeal of the Public Accommodation section of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Former Fox News Watch host Burns: Fox tried "to make the show more right wing." Media Matters investigative reporter and senior editor Joe Strupp quoted former Fox News Watch host Eric Burns (no relation to Media Matters President Eric Burns) saying: "The show was getting to be more and more of a struggle to do fairly. There was a progression of interference to try to make the show more right-wing. I fought very hard against it."

Fox News Channel
Jim Pinkerton
FOX News Watch
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.