By: E&P Staff
At a well-attended press conference this afternoon in New York promoting the new documentary “Outfoxed,” Fox News offered its rebuttal to the film, as well as a full-frontal attack on The New York Times, which published an article about the movie yesterday in its Sunday magazine.
In a statement handed out at the press conference by an unidentified woman, Fox News declared, “The illegal copyright infringement actions of moveon.org in cooperation with The New York Times, including ‘cutting a deal’ not to give Fox News Channel adequate time to react, is unprecedented.” The Times, it said, in “taking orders from” a George Soros-funded Web site, “corrupts the journalistic process. This is the real story.” It described Soros as “a left-wing billionaire currency speculator who funds many liberal efforts.”
The New York Times Magazine had quoted from internal memos sent to Fox staffers by a senior vice president, which seemed to illustrate a conservative bias. Fox has since released other memos that called for balanced reporting in certain areas. (See Greg Mitchell’s “Pressing Issues” column.) Fox has also argued that the Times only gave the network one day to respond before the article was finished, while the Times says it had three days to do so.
“Any news organization that believes this story is big and Fox News Channel is a problem, will be challenged by Fox News Channel in the following manner: If they will put out 100% of their editorial directions and internal memos, Fox News Channel will publish 100% of our editorial directions and internal memos, and let the public decide who is fair. This includes any legitimate cable news network, broadcast network, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and The Washington Post.”
The Fox statement also attempted a takedown of several ex-Fox employees, labeled by the filmmakers as “whistleblowers,” who appeared in the film (and at the press conference). Fox referred to them as “low level” employees, adding that some left due to incompetence, “and none expressed concern about editorial policy while employees.”
Fox said that Clara Frenk, described in the film as a “producer” at Fox News, was actually a “pool booker.” Frenk, at the press conference, said she held both positions. She also challenged Fox’s statement that she had “expressed no concern about the editorial process while she was employed” at the channel, explaining she had told her boss that the channel’s paid consultants on the right were far more recognizable figures than those on the left.
In a separate sheet, Fox pointed out what it called inaccuracies in how the film described four of the ex-employees, claiming some worked for Fox but not Fox News. It referred to one the employee’s “personnel file,” revealing that “he was considered to be a weak field correspondent and could not do live shots.”
At the press conference, one of the former Fox employees, Larry C. Johnson, referred to the “Stalinist environment” at Fox.
Fox in its handout distributed two recent articles about “Outfoxed” by the Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz, so reporters could learn about “parts of the movie that are distorted and actually incorrect.”
Following the press conference, the film’s director Robert Greenwald told E&P that there were many other Fox employees who would like to speak out but are afraid. He asked Fox to “guarantee the jobs” of anyone who “wants to come forward.” He also defended the overall accuracy of the film.
The press conference got a bit heated during the Q&A when a current employee of Fox said that over 15 years at the network he had never experienced intimidation or been threatened. “That’s wonderful news,” Greenwald replied. “But these folks had it.”
He also offered to let Fox air his film “for free.”