PBS Ombudsman Blasts Fox News for Doctored ‘NYT’ Photos

By: E&P Staff

In a column published on PBS’ Web site Friday, PBS ombudsman Michael Getler crticized Fox News for airing doctored photos of a New York Times reporter who had written a feature saying that the cable network’s ratings were in decline.

“What struck me,” Getler wrote, “were two things: the altering of photos in a way reminiscent of the worst kind of propaganda techniques and the fact that the episode was hardly reported on by other major news outlets or commented on editorially.”

Fox aired the doctored images on the show “Fox & Friends” on July 2. Co-hosts Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade mocked New York Times reporter Jacques Steinberg and Times Television Editor Brian Reddicliffe for the critical June 28 story, written by Steinberg.

In his column, Getler criticized the photos as “degrading and unflattering,” quoting Times media critic David Carr in the July 7 edition of the paper as saying the photos would have been “familiar to students of vintage German propaganda … [Steinberg’s] ears were pulled out, his teeth splayed apart, his forehead lowered and his nose was widened and enlarged in a way that made him look more like Fagin than the guy I work with.”

Getler also criticized much of the mainstream media for failing to report on the doctored images of Steinberg and Reddicliffe, saying “the rest of the press ought to report on this sort of particularly inflammatory distortion.” The phots were only mentioned in a few media outlets, including E&P, as well as United Press International, Canada’s Globe and Mail, and Fox News’ competitor, MSNBC.

“Writing in [The Globe and Mail], Sinclair Stewart quotes Marc Raboy, who holds a chair in ethics at McGill University in Montreal, as saying that had it happened in Canada,” Getler writes, “it would probably mean a complaint filed to the telecommunications commission or have the issue brought before a press council.”

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