Since news broke that reporters at Rupert Murdoch's British tabloid News of the World routinely paid police sources for information and hacked into people's cellphones, the media have covered the story nonstop. That is, except for Fox News.
The Pew Research Center's Project For Excellence in Journalism just surveyed reportage of the story in two time frames: July 6-8 and July 11-15. In that period, according to Pew, CNN devoted almost 170 minutes to the story, and MSNBC about 145. Fox? About 30 minutes. Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts takes Fox to task.
Now, let us be fair and balanced here. Fox is owned by Murdoch and the last thing any news organization wants is to be in the awkward position of reporting on itself. To have to air that which might embarrass or damage colleagues or bosses is the definition of a no-win situation, especially since there will always be doubts, from within and without, about your ability to do so fairly. But when professionalism demands, this is what you do.
When CBS News' report on President Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard turned out not to be credible, CBS reported it.
When Jayson Blair hoodwinked and humiliated the New York Times, the New York Times reported it.
When NPR was mortified by a deceptively-edited hidden camera sting, NPR reported it.
Fox's failure to report — and allow viewers to decide — speaks volumes and offers definitive answer to the question of what Fox is.
It is the nation's leading manufacturer of false outrage and fake fury — War on Christmas! War on Christmas! — top supplier of bogeymen for those who need to feel terrorized in order to feel alive.
Pitts says that Fox should do what it impresses upon other news agencies to do: report the news. Sounds like a good idea for a news agency.
Read Leonard Pitts' complete column at the Miami Herald.