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:
Yesterday we reported that Brian Lewis, top PR man for Fox News head Roger Ailes and his various ventures, had been fired. Today he spoke to our sister site TVNewser to clear a few things up, but the (brief) conversation focused more on what didn’t happen than what did. He didn’t give any word on specifics regarding the “issues relating to financial irregularities” that supposedly led to his firing, and he was quick to praise everyone he worked with, saying:
There has been rampant speculation surrounding my departure from Fox that I am not addressing at this time. I will say 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.
That’s about it beyond a little not-so-subtle reference to New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman, who is currently finishing a book about Fox News and wrote a post yesterday describing Lewis’s departure as a sign of problems within and bigger changes to come. Lewis said:
Some stories are ludicrous, but there is one story that is particularly ludicrous.
So Ailes isn’t “more isolated than ever before” and all reports of internal “tension” are wishful thinking, because things couldn’t be better over at Fox. A true PR professional.
Today The Hollywood Reporterbrought word thatFox News chief Roger Ailes had given “right hand [PR] man” Brian Lewis his walking papers. That’s not all: the THR headline asserts that he was “…escorted from the Fox News building” this morning. Kind of an unnecessary detail, but we get the point.
Lewis worked as “a top executive” to Ailes since the network began 17 years ago. His latest official title was VP, corporate communications, a role that required him to manage PR duties for all the Fox properties. “Insiders” claim that “financial issues” forced Ailes to make the decision while some media observers think this move portends a bigger shakeup (especially when paired with the recent re-shuffling of on-air personalities Sean Hannity,Megyn Kelly and Shep Smith).
We don’t know about all that, and we’re absolutely sure that Mr. Ailes would never turn to us for advice, but we think he might want to consider Shep as a replacement for Lewis. The world’s biggest True Blood fan might not be a PR pro, but he’s certainly not afraid to let everyone know how he feels about that “V.”
Who knows, maybe this is exactly what Fox News wanted all along. The brand is seemingly incapable of internalizing bad PR the way giraffes don’t feel any need to apologize for the economy in Greece. It just doesn’t register.
How else could you explain Fox News willfully arranging an interview between author, historian, academic, religious scholar and expert on Christianity Reza Aslan—who is also a practicing Muslim—and the network’s feckless “Spirited Debate” correspondent Lauren Green. It was a mismatch. Not like a plaid shirt and striped pants, but like Paula Deen and southern history.
Watch the video above. It’s self-explanatory. And it’s sad. Saying a Muslim could never be qualified to write about Christianity is like saying a Mexican chef couldn’t possibly cook Italian food. Perhaps Ms. Green should go out to dinner more and visit the kitchen. She and Paula Deen could go together; they’d probably love each other’s company.
Once again, the public voted its sentiment with its money. So it’s no surprise, at Fox News’ chagrin of course, that the very book the network tried to demonize is riding a wave of public support and enjoying rising sales. But that doesn’t mean the confrontation surrounding Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth is over. Its value is being debated in that most academic of theological platforms: the Amazon comment section.