By: Joe Strupp and Greg Mitchell
The Fox News channel has gained wide attention today in the blogosphere for airing photos of two New York Times staffers that appear to have been doctored to portray the Timesmen in an unflattering light.
The photos depict New York Times reporter Jacques Steinberg with yellowed teeth, “his nose and chin widened, and his ears made to protrude further,” according to a statement today by Media Matters for America. The other image, of Times television editor Steven Reddicliffe, with similar yellow teeth, as well as “dark circles … under his eyes, and his hairline has been moved back,” according to the Media Matters statement.
The photos appear to have been flattened or extended using photoshop tools.
On Wednesday morning’s edition of Fox & Friends, co-hosts Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade aired the photos while discussing a piece in the June 28 edition of the New York Times. The piece pointed out what the newspaper called “ominous trends” in Fox News’ ratings.
Neither Steinberg nor Reddicliffe were reachable for comment Wednesday. But Times Culture Editor Sam Sifton called the Fox photo work “disgusting,” and the criticism of the paper’s reporting “a specious and meritless claim.”
“It wasn’t a hit piece,” Sifton told E&P. “It was straight news. This was a hit piece by Fox News. It is beneath comment.” Asked if the paper planned to respond to Fox’s actions, he said no: “It is fighting with a pig, everyone gets dirty and the pig likes it.”
In his TV spot, Doocy called the Times report, written by Steinberg, a “hit piece” ordered up by Reddicliffe. The pair then made reference to Reddicliffe’s tenure as editor of TV Guide owned by Fox News’ parent company, News Corporation, which ended in 2002. Reddicliffe was hired by the Times in 2004.
The anchors cited a brief item from the Web site of Radar magazine, quoting a blog called FTVLive, which stated that Reddicliffe “is still bitter about losing his gig at … TV Guide” and “sends his attack dog Jacques Steinberg out — that fellow right there, the writer for The New York Times — to do these hit pieces. So, he essentially is his attack dog. His — his poodle, if you will.”
The broadcast than showed an image of Steinberg’s face superimposed over a picture of a poodle, while Reddicliffe’s face was superimposed over the man holding the poodle’s leash.
As of this afternoon, neither Fox News or News Corp. had made a public statement on the matter.
To see the photos, go to: http://mediamatters.org/
E&P Editor Greg Mitchell’s new book is So Wrong for So Long: How the Press, the Pundits — and the President — Failed on Iraq.