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Producers know what's acceptable. Everyone fears a call from Roger Ailes
May 29, 2013 7:18 AM   Subscribe

"I was a liberal mole at Fox News": Joe Muto explains how Fox News works on the inside and outlines how a day on The O'Reilly Factor works.
posted by Pope Guilty (39 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
Previously.
posted by tilde at 7:33 AM on May 29, 2013


I think this guy tried to have a column at Gawker maybe a year ago about being a Fox-mole before they traced him and summarily fired him. Apparently he was leaking stuff over his work email from work.
posted by Renoroc at 7:35 AM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Theoretically, each show could talk about whatever they wanted to talk about, and take any angle they wanted to take, and book any guest they wanted to have on.

Realistically, there was tremendous pressure to hew closely to the company line.


In other words, Fox News is a business and they practice what they preach. The confusion among liberals, it seems, is that Fox is some kind of news agency.
posted by three blind mice at 7:44 AM on May 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


We called it the Newsfax because it was easier to tell Bill we were faxing it to him than it was to explain that we were remotely printing it to his home printer.
Gold.
posted by brokkr at 7:47 AM on May 29, 2013 [22 favorites]


We called it the Newsfax because it was easier to tell Bill we were faxing it to him than it was to explain that we were remotely printing it to his home printer.

And what do they call it when an intern accidentally prints a 500 page TPS Report to his home printer?
posted by RonButNotStupid at 7:48 AM on May 29, 2013


Paper goes in, news comes out. You can't explain that.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:51 AM on May 29, 2013 [57 favorites]


We called it the Newsfax because it was easier to tell Bill we were faxing it to him than it was to explain that we were remotely printing it to his home printer.

I am not surpised - after all, Bill confused a loofa with a falafel.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:53 AM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Apparently he was leaking stuff over his work email from work.

Fair and balanced - you don't have to be conservative to be a idiot at Fox.
posted by jaduncan at 7:53 AM on May 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


three blind mice: "In other words, Fox News is a business and they practice what they preach. The confusion among liberals, it seems, is that Fox is some kind of news agency."

I don't think that too many liberals consider Fox News to be an actual news channel but if you read the comments on newspapers sites and conservative blogs, a whole lot of conservatives seem to think that it is.
posted by octothorpe at 7:56 AM on May 29, 2013 [17 favorites]


brokkr, you missed the money quote, right after that:
This is actually a familiar pattern with Bill. It’s often simpler to let him believe something erroneously than it is to correct him.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:58 AM on May 29, 2013 [24 favorites]


As a former helpdesk assistant, that's a very common observation. I've never heard anyone passing off a printer as a fax before, though.
posted by brokkr at 8:00 AM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Fox News's business is pretending to be a news agency, and actively "competing" with channels which WERE theoretically news agencies at one point by fostering a paranoid delusion among its viewers that "liberals" are out there feeding lies to the media which Fox's "fair and balanced" reporting aims to correct. It's somewhat like the way cults convince its members to cut themselves off from the outside world.

Don't get me wrong, as an aspiring bloodsucker I am fascinated with Fox's internal workings. It is a brilliant business. But that doesn't mean that it's suddenly naive or stupid to hate Fox for how much damage it's done to this country's political and media landscape. If anything, it makes it even more sensible to dislike not only Fox but the American implementation of capitalism that lets Fox's model succeed.
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:01 AM on May 29, 2013 [13 favorites]


Looking at the "Previously" link I see these prior comments

>> nation.foxnews.com is the funnest site ever!
>
> NoScript and Ghostery throw up ... I couldn't even figure out which script
> to accept so it would load the hilarious comments.

That gives a good idea of how many, and what kind, of advertisers who pay for that kind of audience -- an audience prescreened and known willing to believe lies. Credulous. Easily misled. PROFITABLE.

Get to the last paragraph of that second link, it's worth the slog.
posted by hank at 8:05 AM on May 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


I remember there was a Daily Show Bill O'Reilly appearance where at the end, for some reason there was a teddy bear. He kept calling it a Panda bear. Jon Stewart tried to correct him at one point and he insisted it was a Panda. It was very odd.
posted by condour75 at 8:06 AM on May 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


My respect for O'Reilly actually went up a bit by reading that piece. Perhaps it has to do with his supreme hatred for Hannity and Limbaugh, which I didn't know about.

On the other side of the aisle, I wonder what it is like working for MSNBC, particularly Chris Matthews or Al Sharpton. It must be insufferable in a different kind of way. But I like to believe that working for Chris Hayes or Rachel Maddow would be awesome.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 8:07 AM on May 29, 2013 [10 favorites]


Bill was, if nothing else, a man of habit — to the point where he got incredibly angry if anything went awry with his schedule. For someone as pugilistic as he, he’s shockingly unable to roll with the punches. He’s like a taller, Irish version of Dustin Hoffman in “Rain Man.” Even a slight delay or deviation from the plan could set off a lecture or, on occasion, a screaming match. As a result, he was tightly scheduled down to the minute.
What? No!
posted by entropicamericana at 8:24 AM on May 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


I knew nothing about Fox Nation before today but the Previously link recommended I check it out. So I clicked over and found... jeez.
The Fox Nation is for those opposed to intolerance, excessive government control of our lives, and attempts to monopolize opinion or suppress freedom of thought, expression, and worship.
It kind of surprises me just how blatant that is. I mean, I've watched Fox News but this seems like a step up even from that. And the propaganda is astonishing in how much it reads like something out of Orwell, like when they link to a letter Roger Ailes wrote about some recent Fox scandal or other and describe it as a "turning point in the battle for freedom of the press in the age of Obama." This really is the rabbit hole.

But I was advised to read the comments section, and the comments are truly hilariously the Worst of the Web. I mean, it's funny enough that the site apparently posts random photographs of Olivia Munn and Kate Upton, not that we're being blatantly manipulative or anything, but it's even funnier that the comments sections devolve into discussions of "look at how hot liberal women are" followed by debates about whether conservatives are attractive, whether liberal women are more likely to be "used" because of their "looseness" (weird for a web site that seemingly is pro-freedom and anti-intolerance), and... god, did I say this was funny? I mean, funny is the word my mind comes up with as a way of blanketing out the gaping abyss this web site exposes, but it's the kind of laughter that comes with a persistent mental image of hellfire burning the world to a cinder.

I do appreciate the extraordinary lameness of the one-liners there, however. Like in the discussion about Colorado's governor signing a marijuana legalization bill into law, there were these two zingers side-by-side: The sheer laziness of "Gayfornia" gets me, as does the fact that California banned gay marriage, as does the commenter's acting like California was ever a state that horribly sheltered Republicans pretended to like. Cali's been the enemy since day one, right? Plus I mean the connection between pot and gay marriage amuses me, like "You've legalized pot?! But didn't you see what happened to those states that legalized gay marriage???"

I tried looking at the comments section for an article about gay rights but the constant use of the phrase "homosexual behavior" started creeping me out and I had to stop being a voyeur. Braver hearts than I, have at it!
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:31 AM on May 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


needs gawker and joemuto tags.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:50 AM on May 29, 2013


So do they now call Colarado Spliffarado?
posted by marienbad at 9:03 AM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Coloweedo?
posted by Splunge at 9:28 AM on May 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


This tell all actually makes O'Reilly look pretty good in a lot of ways. At least he's willing to stand up to Ailes for what he believes, including that the bailout was necessary. And his daily practices sound pretty on-point for staying relevant and on top of his game. I mean he's still sort of a buffoon, but way more of a professional than most on the left. I don't like what he says, or how he says it, but I at least believe he believes it.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:30 AM on May 29, 2013 [6 favorites]


The writer is funny. Also, the idea that Bill O'Reilly will never cover any topic that leads to even a slight decrease in ratings... o_O I mean, maybe this is standard for TV journalism, but talk about an echo chamber.

I'm not sure where anyone is getting the idea that O'Reilly is a pretty decent guy, really. It says right there in the article that he explodes with rage when things don't go the way he wants them to and that it's hard or impossible to correct him on the facts. There are a couple times where he's told that something is not true but he insists on running with it anyway.

Sure, he's a professional, but is this really such a surprise? He'd pretty much have to be to have succeeded as a news anchor for so long.
posted by subdee at 9:50 AM on May 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh, and it looks like the writer wasn't expecting to work as a "mole" for very long:

"So why not just leave Fox News?" you might ask. Good question! I've asked myself that same thing many times. And I am leaving. Sooner rather than later, I'm guessing. But I can't just leave quietly, can I? Where's the fun in that? So I'm John McClane-ing this shit. I'm inside the building, crawling through the air vents, gathering intel, and passing it along to Carl Winslow.
posted by subdee at 9:51 AM on May 29, 2013


I've always liked O'Reilly - he's often a hate-filled, bullying moron, but when Bill O'Reilly sits in his empty house, is he still O'Reilly? You betcha. He is who he is. Some of his cohort could hunt humans for sport on the weekends, though, and you would never be able to tell under that mask.
posted by forgetful snow at 10:10 AM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


That monster, at least he's authentic.
posted by basicchannel at 10:14 AM on May 29, 2013 [9 favorites]


The confusion among liberals, it seems, is that Fox is some kind of news agency.

I wonder what could have given them that idea? Like many of the things you say, this weird little comment has the form of an actual point, but no factual basis or logic. As others have pointed out, liberals are not confused about Fox News in any sense. They know full well that it is a dishonest propaganda organisation. There are plenty of conservatives, however, who argue strongly that Fox is not just a news organisation, but the most successful news organisation in America. Try to get your facts straight.

Interestingly, Fox News actually won a court case a few years ago that some argue gave them the right to lie and yet still call themselves a "news" organisation. This is sometimes known as the "Fox News can lie" case: see here or here.

One thing I find fascinating is that the idea that drives Fox News, the idea that it uses to seduce and consolidate its user-base, is the idea that the majority of news media in America actually has a "liberal bias". And on the right this idea goes back a long way, to some very sordid places.

I was reading the notorious neo-Nazi novel THE TURNER DIARIES the other day and came across this passage:

"[After his group has bombed a building, the 'hero' reflects...] ... it is already clear that the controlled media intend to convince the public that what we are doing is terrible. They are deliberately emphasizing the suffering we have caused... Interviewers are asking leading questions... They have clearly made the decision to portray the bombing of the FBI building as the atrocity of the century.

And, indeed, it is an act of unprecedented magnitude. All the bombings, arsons, and assassinations carried out by the Left in this country have been rather small-time in comparison.

But what a difference in the attitude of the news media! I remember a long string of Marxist acts of terror 20 years ago, during the Vietnam war... the press always portrayed such things as idealistic acts of 'protest'. [There are some more examples, described in racist terms].

Well... we will soon begin settling that score. One day we will have a truly American press in this country, but a lot of editors' throats will have to be cut first."

This is from a book published in 1978. I wonder what the hero would have made of Fox News.
posted by lucien_reeve at 10:14 AM on May 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


As if everyone who works for any production unit agrees with everything that outfit does. Does anyone think that Oprah's producers parroted every word that came out of her mouth? If so, then why does Harpo have these really long, complicated NDAs? I know plenty of people at ABC News, CBS News, as well as BBC and FOX, and most have had issues with what ends up on the air. How nice this guy got a book deal.
posted by Ideefixe at 10:28 AM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bill O'Reilly's interview with Terry Gross.
posted by bukvich at 10:45 AM on May 29, 2013


The sheer laziness of "Gayfornia" gets me

As a lone liberal working in a building full of libertarians and other conservatives, I get to hear shit like this out loud, in meetings with very important people, all the time. The echo chamber has spilled over into the real world and it's a little unnerving to see it in action.

My favorite example of this is a relatively high-up guy who is... well, I hesitate to call him an engineer because he's not really an engineer. Anyway, his schtick is that he calls CNN the "Communist News Network". And it gets a huge laugh every time he says it! And then he goes right from that to how the "Communist News Network" is spouting their "socialist" agenda again and... don't even get me started. He also calls people - in meetings! to their faces! - "socialist pigs". It boggles my mind, I mean I really just cannot put words together to explain the sheer lunacy of stuff like this when it happens.

Of course, the only news (excuse me, "news") programs they ingest come from Fox News. I made the mistake of asking someone once if they listened to a particular piece on NPR - something totally apolitical, I think it was about new technology at a car plant or something - and based on the look the person gave me in return you might have assumed I asked him if he ate drowned kittens for breakfast.
posted by backseatpilot at 10:59 AM on May 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, Drowned Kitten Feast is on after Tom Ashbrook so
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 11:02 AM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


That monster, at least he's authentic.

It's a pretty sad commentary on how desperate people are for any kind of "authenticity".
posted by mstokes650 at 11:15 AM on May 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


The confusion among liberals, it seems, is that Fox is some kind of news agency.

Your schtick is getting pretty damn tedious, mate.
posted by benito.strauss at 1:11 PM on May 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


three blind mice: In other words, Fox News is a business and they practice what they preach. The confusion among liberals, it seems, is that Fox is some kind of news agency.
Incorrect; it is conservatives and the SCOTUS that believe thus.

Liberals are very, very clear on the fact of the matter.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:42 PM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ideefixe: As if everyone who works for any production unit agrees with everything that outfit does. Does anyone think that Oprah's producers parroted every word that came out of her mouth? If so, then why does Harpo have these really long, complicated NDAs? I know plenty of people at ABC News, CBS News, as well as BBC and FOX, and most have had issues with what ends up on the air. How nice this guy got a book deal.
Name another Fox employee trying to publish a similar story.

And, if only one decides to talk after making it over the wire, the story is no less valid.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:47 PM on May 29, 2013


The confusion among liberals the rest of the 'News Business', it seems, is that Fox is some kind of news agency.

They gave Fox News a front row seat at the White House press room, over NPR and Bloomberg. A lot of 'formerly serious' reporters take jobs at Fox because it pays well and has job security. I mentioned before how the New York Times is much more willing to defend Fox News than Wikileaks. But the NYT is actually using a very similar business plan as Fox News: find a potentially lucrative audience and pander to it. (see: the Top 1% laser-like-focus of its lifestyle articles). MSNBC has a big problem in having the Traditional News Establishment of NBC News appended to the "Fox of the What-Passes-For-Left-In-The-USA" prime time stars.

There is room for a real competitor for the same audience, but it'll require very deep pockets (and why Breitbart & Drudge never became real Media Empires). That's the silver lining in the Koch Brothers' interest in the Tribune Newspaper Chain; yes, there will be fewer major outlets for honest journalism but the catfight between the panderers will be fun to watch.

Remember when some naive analysts called Wikileaks "the future of Journalism"? Nope, it's Fox News. (Although I can see an argument that it may be the Huffpo or the Onion)
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:25 PM on May 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


That monster, at least he's authentic.

Eh. I mean, the flip side of this, in a way, is that O'Reilly is one of the few who actually understands that he's a tool -- a self-awareness I do not believe Hannity, and others, capable of ascending toward. You can sort of respect that level of utilitarianism.

It's a lot closer to the old-school Republican mindset, anyway.
posted by dhartung at 5:18 PM on May 29, 2013


I trust a self interested person way more than I trust a water carrier. The fact that O'Reilly hates Limbaugh and Hannity moves him up a notch in my mind. As well as his obsession with putting on a show that people want to watch. At least he's more interested in putting asses in the seats than pushing the agenda.
posted by gjc at 6:49 AM on May 30, 2013


The fact that O'Reilly hates Limbaugh and Hannity moves him up a notch in my mind

When he was doing the debate with Stewart he all but said he's playing a role for the sweet sweet cash.
posted by jaduncan at 6:57 AM on May 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


The fact that O'Reilly hates Limbaugh and Hannity moves him up a notch in my mind.

But they're still all shits, the lot of them, right?
posted by benito.strauss at 10:53 AM on May 30, 2013


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