Fox apologizes for a Web site gaffe
By Jon Friedman, CBS.MarketWatch.com
Last Update: 5:26 PM ET Oct. 4, 2004
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NEW YORK (CBS.MW) -- Fox News, which has been criticized for catering to right-wing political viewpoints, apologized for posting phony quotations from Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry on its Web site.
Carl Cameron, a Fox (FOX: news, chart) reporter who covers the Kerry campaign, wrote an item that resembled a news account with made-up Kerry quotes. The item was written in "jest" and was not supposed to be posted on the site, the network said.
"Carl made a stupid mistake which he regrets," spokesman Paul Schur told the Associated Press. "And he has been reprimanded for his lapse in judgment. It was a poor attempt at humor."
When asked to elaborate, Schur told CBS MarketWatch that he preferred to stick by the statement he gave to the AP.
The item posted early Friday read in part:
"Rallying supporters in Tampa Friday Kerry played up his performance in Thursday night's debate in which many observers agreed the Massachusetts senator outperformed the president.
" 'Didn't my nails and cuticles look great? What a good debate!' Kerry said Friday ...Women should like me! I do manicures,' Kerry said."
The item also quoted Kerry as saying of himself and President Bush: "I'm metrosexual -- he's a cowboy."
The Fox gaffe comes on the heels of a media industry furor that surrounded CBS News and anchor Dan Rather. CBS apologized for airing a flawed report on Bush's National Guard service.
Fox has spent substantial time on the Rather issue, in a seeming attempt to keep the story alive after it began to fade from view in other media organizations. (CBS's parent, Viacom is a significant investor in MarketWatch, the publisher of this report.)
Fox has also been criticized at times for seeming to cater to conservative viewers. The network has consistently denied that it favors any particular group of viewers.
At the same time, Fox has benefited greatly from the loyalty of right-wing viewers. During the Republican Convention in New York a month ago, Fox swamped the competition and had the highest TV ratings by far, thanks largely to the loyalty of its base.
After withdrawing the item, Fox posted a statement on its site apologizing for the error. It said: "The item was based on a reporter's partial script that had been written in jest and should not have been posted or broadcast. We regret the error, which occurred because of fatigue and bad judgment, not malice."
Cameron has been a political reporter for Fox News since 1996.
Jon Friedman is media editor for CBS.MarketWatch.com in New York.
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Sigh.... I think Fox is getting too cocky. I can see them turning into CNN in about 10 years. No credibility.
A "flawed" report... They do seem to have a rather Clinton-esque way of understating the magnitude of the problem, don't they?
So, in one case, we have tongue-in-cheek satire that only a complete idiot would construe as being factual. In the other, we have a deliberate attempt to influence the outcome of a Presidential election by publicizing forged documents.
Oh yeah, that's a valid comparison, alright...