Media Matters Investigative Reporter and Senior Editor Joe Strupp recently wrote about what it’s really like for reporters to deal with Fox News PR. Critics questioned the validity of his story because Media Matters is a clear foe to Fox News. We caught up with Strupp for a quick five questions about how his story unfolded. He said he spoke with Fox News PR for his story, but the conversation was off the record. “The only thing they would allow on the record was the statement for the story, which is they declined comment,” he said. Strupp isn’t done — he’s busy working on Part II, the results of which promise to uncover new tantalizing behind-the-scenes details. “Yes, we will remain on the Fox News treatment of reporters story,” said Strupp, who, before Media Matters, spent a decade at Editor & Publisher magazine.
1. How did the story come about? I started asking reporters about Fox News, but about something else. In talking to them, they all started saying the same thing. To be fair, my original story was something about Fox News doing something wrong. I don’t want to repeat it as it turned out to be a tip that didn’t pan out. Reporters began telling me they were very restrictive, difficult to deal with.
2. Was it difficult to get reporters to go on record for this? Yes, I think the story has three reporters on the record out of six or seven. They were all afraid of retribution. What a shock. They were afraid that Fox News would treat them even worse.
3. How much do you watch Fox News? More than I used to. I’ve never been a fan of it, but part of my job is to keep an eye on them. I watch probably several hours of it a day. I actually listen to it all the time. I peak at Hannity, sometimes O’Reilly.
4. What kind of effect do you think watching so much FNC has on you? It’s reminding me what they do wrong, which is push a lot of inaccuracies and a real slant, especially during daytime hours. I don’t think people know how much misinformation comes out. It can rattle your optimism about journalism when you watch so much Fox News, but it’s a good reminder that Media Matters is valuable because [FNC] really does have such a sharp brand of poor journalism.
5. Do you ever enjoy watching despite your best efforts? I can find some of it humorous because it becomes so ridiculous in some cases when the lies or unfairness is so clear. I am such a news junkie and have such respect for this business. I think all of us are lucky to be in this biz that to see someone like Fox News trample it is more angering than funny. I think that the Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert brand of news is funny – they actually have more of a brand of truth than Fox News does. I have relatives who watch Fox News. They say it’s entertaining, lively, shouting back and forth. To me, it’s not interesting for news, it’s just babble and a waste of time.