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Ex-Fox News Staffer: "Stuff is Just Made Up"

An ex-Fox News employee is speaking out against the network, claiming: “I don’t think people would believe it’s as concocted as it is; that stuff is just made up.”

The former employee, whose name was not released, spoke on-the-record with the liberal Web site Media Matters, which is rare because all Fox employees are required to sign a non-disclosure agreement that bans them from talking about the company.

However, this person is breaking that agreement. It is also important to note it is not clear exactly why this person is no longer employed at Fox, whether he or she was fired or quit, and perhaps might have an ax to grind.

In any case, it's no great revelation that Fox swings right. However, this person said that Fox News is run as a purely partisan operation, with virtually every news story spun by the staff. It has one goal:

“It is their M.O. to undermine the administration and to undermine Democrats,” said the former employee. “They’re a propaganda outfit but they call themselves news.”

The person claimed staffers at Fox News routinely operate without regard for fairness or fact checking.

The source recalls how Fox News changed over time:

“When I first got there back in the day, and I don’t know how they indoctrinate people now, but back in the day when they were “training” you, as it were, they would say, ‘Here’s how we’re different.’ They’d say if there is an execution of a condemned man at midnight and there are all the live trucks outside the prison and all the lives shots.  CNN would go, ‘Yes, tonight John Jackson, 25 of Mississippi, is going to die by lethal injection for the murder of two girls.’ MSNBC would say the same thing. 

“We would come out and say, ‘Tonight, John Jackson who kidnapped an innocent two year old, raped her, sawed her head off and threw it in the school yard, is going to get the punishment that a jury of his peers thought he should get.’ And they say that’s the way we do it here. And you’re going, alright, it’s a bit of an extreme example but it’s something to think about. It’s not unreasonable.

"When you first get in they tell you we’re a bit of a counterpart to the screaming left wing lib media. So automatically you have to buy into the idea that the other media is howling left-wing. Don’t even start arguing that or you won’t even last your first day. 

For the first few years it was let’s take the conservative take on things. And then after a few years it evolved into, well it’s not just the conservative take on things, we’re going to take the Republican take on things which is not necessarily in lock step with the conservative point of view.

“And then two, three, five years into that it was, we’re taking the Bush line on things, which was different than the GOP. We were a Stalin-esque mouthpiece. It was just what Bush says goes on our channel. And by that point it was just totally dangerous. Hopefully most people understand how dangerous it is for a media outfit to be a straight, unfiltered mouthpiece for an unchecked president.”

The former employee said everything had to have a conservative spin:

“Like any news channel there’s lot of room for non-news content. The content that wasn’t ‘news,’ they didn’t care what we did with as long as it was amusing or quirky or entertaining; as long as it brought in eyeballs. But anything—anything—that was a news story you had to understand what the spin should be on it. If it was a big enough story it was explained to you in the morning [editorial] meeting. If it wasn’t explained, it was up to you to know the conservative take on it. There’s a conservative take on every story no matter what it is. So you either get told what it is or you better intuitively know what it is.”

What if Fox News staffers aren’t instinctively conservative or don’t have an intuitive feeling for what the spin on a story should be? “My internal compass was to think like an intolerant meathead,” the person explained. “You could never error on the side of not being intolerant enough.”

The ex-staffer also said there always had to be controversy. And if there wasn't one readily available, they had to look for one:

“If one controversy faded, goddamn it they would find another one. They were in search of these points of friction real or imagined. And most of them were imagined or fabricated. You always have to seem to be under siege. You always have to seem like your values are under attack. The brain trust just knew instinctively which stories to do, like the War on Christmas.”

This account backs up other stories leaking out of the network. For example, last year an internal email got out in which a top editor instructed his newsroom staffers (not just the opinion show hosts) to slant the news when reporting on key stories such as climate change and health care reform. 


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