After aggressively promoting ACORN videos, Fox News ignores reports of Blackwater bribes

On the evening of November 11, Fox News personalities did not discuss reports from the previous evening that officials at Xe Services, formerly Blackwater Worldwide, had authorized $1 million in bribery payments to Iraqi officials in the aftermath of a fatal shooting involving Blackwater security guards. By contrast, Fox News devoted more than one hour on September 10 to discussing videos of conservative activists James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles posing as a pimp and a prostitute while asking for assistance from employees at an ACORN office.

Fox News ignores Blackwater bribe scandal

NY Times: Blackwater executives “authorized secret payments of about $1 million to Iraqi officials” to “silence their criticism and buy their support.” From a November 10 New York Times article:

Top executives at Blackwater Worldwide authorized secret payments of about $1 million to Iraqi officials that were intended to silence their criticism and buy their support after a September 2007 episode in which Blackwater security guards fatally shot 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad, according to former company officials.

Blackwater approved the cash payments in December 2007, the officials said, as protests over the deadly shootings in Nisour Square stoked long-simmering anger inside Iraq about reckless practices by the security company's employees. American and Iraqi investigators had already concluded that the shootings were unjustified, top Iraqi officials were calling for Blackwater's ouster from the country, and company officials feared that Blackwater might be refused an operating license it would need to retain its contracts with the State Department and private clients, worth hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

Four former executives said in interviews that Gary Jackson, who was then Blackwater's president, had approved the bribes and that the money was sent from Amman, Jordan, where the company maintains an operations hub, to a top manager in Iraq. The executives, though, said they did not know whether the cash was delivered to Iraqi officials or the identities of the potential recipients.

Blackwater's strategy of buying off the government officials, which would have been illegal under American law, created a deep rift inside the company, according to the former executives. [The New York Times, 11/10/09]

Fox News airs no coverage of Blackwater story the following night. A Media Matters for America review of Fox News programming on November 11, the night after the story broke, indicates that no Fox News host or guest discussed Blackwater or Xe Services, according to transcripts available in the Nexis and Factiva news databases.

Fox News promoted, amplified Breitbart's ACORN videographers

Fox News, led by Glenn Beck, facilitated Breitbart's release of the videos. During the September 9 edition of his Fox News program, Beck previewed an “exclusive” that would air on his program the next day, which he claimed would make “things change a lot for those in power,” and aired snippets of the first video released of O'Keefe and Giles. At 6:10 a.m. ET September 10, O'Keefe posted the video on Andrew Breitbart's website.

Fox News devoted more than one hour of evening broadcast to discussing ACORN tapes. In stark contrast to Fox News' blackout of the Blackwater story, the day after Beck helped Breitbart publicize the ACORN videos, Fox News dedicated 1 hour, 1 minute, and 51 seconds to discussing the story, according to a Media Matters review of Fox News' programming between 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET on September 10. Beck himself spent 38 minutes and 11 seconds discussing the tapes that night.