Last night Jon Stewart went off on Fox News “rising star” Megyn Kelly for taking a moment to remind all the 6-year-old news hounds who watch her 10PM show that both Santa Claus and Jesus were white men, and that’s a fact so they should just freaking deal with it.
Since its founding in 1990, the Bloomberg media company has held itself to a policy strictly forbidding any coverage of its owner, soon-to-be-ex New York head honcho Michael Bloomberg, beyond “a limited exception for covering Mike’s official actions as New York’s mayor”. This is the equivalent of Fox News refusing to report anything related to Rupert Murdoch, and it’s quite unique among media entities.
Back in August we reported on the problematic firing of Brian Lewis, head of PR for Fox News and longtime confidante of network chief Roger Ailes. While the storied flack initially had only good things to say about his former employer to sister site TVNewser, the picture quickly got ugly. Lewis hired former Donald Trump attorney Judd Burstein, who earned his pay by uttering this classic line:
“Roger Ailes and Newscorp have a lot more to fear from Brian Lewis telling the truth about them than Brian Lewis has to fear from Roger Ailes and his toadies telling lies about Brian Lewis.”
We LOL’ed at the use of the man’s name three times in the same sentence.
General consensus held that Ailes suspected Lewis of leaking information to media sources, and today someone actually did leak some inflammatory news to Gawker: seems that Fox paid its former rep a total of $8 million in “hush money” to avoid a costly lawsuit.
Last week, a staff writer on The Colbert Report created a Twitter feed automated to turn others’ messages into tweets celebrating Fox News with the hashtag #PraiseFOX by replacing words with the names of Fox shows and hosts.
Admittedly, I adore “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central. It’s not because I need some Cliffs Notes version of what’s happening in the world around me. I’m a hack-turned-flack. I have a voracious appetite for the media, as should most PR professionals.
Rather, I greatly appreciate this show because they are able to stand on a national platform and give a mighty middle finger to all networks — from the tightest, butt-cheek clinching conservative in FOX News to the uber-leaning forward, bleeding-heart liberal in MSNBC. It’s like the industry in which we find ourselves.
And then there is ridiculous trend CNN is trying to make trend worldwide, as noted below.
Life is more illuminated when you can see it from all sides, not just your propaganda-filled, dimly lit side. Healthy debates, constructive criticism, open conversation — these are aspects of American society that has dumbed down Americans. Why? Those things rarely happen anymore.
It happens in a PR brainstorming with those spiteful Debbie Downers who shoot down ideas before they make it to the whiteboard. It happens in politics, as seen in…well, daily. And now it’s happening on the national news, which is adroitly captured by the genius writers at “The Daily Show.” If this is the future of news, give me the “Good Ol’ Days” anytime.
This week’s story about members of the Fox News PR team posting “sockpuppet” comments in threads on various blogs (like our sister site TVNewser) was big, but this one is far worse: NPR reporter David Folkenflik‘s new book “Murdoch’s World” reports that the team schemed to send a journalist a fake tip in order to discredit him.
Here’s the deal: as Folkenflik tellsThe Washington Post‘s Erik Wemple, the Fox PR team refuses to participate in any story that compares the channel to its competitors in tracking general cable news trends—they don’t even want to acknowledge the existence of CNN or MSNBC.
Crain’s New York Business reporter Matthew Flamm was trying to write a story about how CNN briefly beat Fox in the ratings game in February 2008 when he received this “tip” from an “inside source” at the network:
“FOX PR reps would never confirm this, at least not on the record. But [Bill] O’Reilly, not Brit Hume, will…anchor our texas and ohio primary coverage on Tuesday night. They want to copy the success that MSNBC has had with Olbermann and Matthews anchoring their coverage.”
It sounds like a big deal because, in order to confirm its “fair and balanced” status, Fox maintains a clear wall between “objective” reporters like Hume and opinionators like O’Reilly—and such a move would represent a breach of that wall.
When we first saw images of Fox News‘ new, comically outsized touchscreen doohickeys, we thought “What a great way to counteract the perception that you’re a network catering to senior citizens frightened by technological, cultural and political change!” But it was probably more about intra-network jousting, like “We’ll see your fake holograms and raise you two dozen supersized iPads, CNN!”
Then we watched this Shep Smith video, which we can summarize as such: “These things are really freaking cool. Just trust us like you always have and will.”
For real though: Fox’s tech “revolution” involves little more than testing its theory that more gadgets equals more accurate news. Imagine how much smoother the 2012 election coverage would have been with these BATs (Big Area Touchscreens)! And who would ever make fun of a name like that?
We would ask various members of The Media what they think, and yesterday people who are more clever than us came up with plenty of related memes, but this is the only tweet you need to see:
America’s racists are having a tough week. Not only were many of them exposed earlier this week for freaking out on social media after a foreign, brown woman from the dubious nation of New York won the Miss America pageant, but it turns out Al-Jazeera, the Qatar-based media juggernaut, is also messing with their bigoted characterizations of other races, religions and cultures.
In fact, the reporters, editors and producers at Al-Jazeera don’t want the death of America any more than CNN, FOX News or MSNBC. Need proof? Check out this report by the Pew Research Center, an independent think tank tasked with monitoring the media. As public relations professionals, we can only ask one question: Where does Al-Jazeera go from here?
What happens when the vilified boogieman turns out to be the affable cat lady? Al-Jazeera has missed a golden PR opportunity to differentiate itself in a meaningful way from the competition. The last thing America media needs now is another CNN, FOX News or MSNBC. Al-Jazeera was supposed to return real American journalism to America, while these other networks festooned with screaming eagles and undulating flags continued to feed the public emotional drivel, intellectual smut and political grab ass. Read more
Based on last week’s reports regarding top Fox News PR man Brian Lewis‘ abrupt departure from the company, you’d be excused for thinking everything is just peachy keen forever. In his first public statement to our sister site TVNewser, he refused to address any “rampant speculation” and assured everyone that:
…it has been an honor and privilege to work for Roger Ailes the past 20 years and I wish nothing but the best for him and the great people at Fox News.
This quote reads a little odd considering the fact that his now-former employer tied his departure to “issues relating to financial irregularities” and “multiple” breaches of contract, an accusation just vague enough to be frightening. Today, however, the gloves are off. Lewis hired former Donald Trump lawyer Judd Burstein, who gave the following statement to Gawker: