Make That 102

Liberals can now relax.  Fox News can now be added to my Media Dishonesty Matters list of 101 incidents, making the new list 102.  A common gripe about my list was, "Where is Fox?"  Well, up until July 2, 2008, Fox hadn't done anything bad enough to merit making it.  Now I think they have.

As Media Matters  summarizes it:

"During a segment in which Fox & Friends co-hosts Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade labeled New York Times reporter Jacques Steinberg and editor Steven Reddicliffe "attack dogs," Fox News featured photos of Steinberg and Reddicliffe that appeared to have been digitally altered -- the journalists' teeth had been yellowed, their facial features exaggerated, and portions of Reddicliffe's hair moved further back on his head."

Media Matters provides a video clip of the segment, as well as side-by-side comparisons of the photos.  I could detect no hint that this was sarcasm or a spoof.  And the photos were seriously inaccurate and unflattering without being obvious caricatures.  I've seen Doocy and Kilmeade before.  Fox & Friends is an informal morning show, mixing a little goofiness with the news.  But there was nothing in this segment that made clear the photos were doctored.  You would have thought the journalists really looked like the pictures shown on Fox.

Editor and Publisher quotes Bill O'Reilly as saying

"Well, some folks at the Times are outraged, as are the far-left loons over at Media Matters. Now, this is rich. Because, here are the caricatures the New York Times used of me when they slashed my book 'Culture Warrior.' Nice images, aren't they? You notice the horn in there? Isn't that nice? OK! So let me get this straight, New York Times people, we can't mock you, but you can mock us. Am I getting this? If the Times editor Bill Keller would wise up, perhaps their business might improve."

A video of O'Reilly saying this is provided by Media Matters .  He described the Fox photo of Steinberg as an "unflattering caricature."  The images of O'Reilly by the Times, however, were clearly cartoonish drawings, not photos.  No reasonable person would think he really has a horn.  But a reasonable person would think that Steinberg and Reddicliffe look like the photos shown on Fox.

It is probably true that Fox pulled an inside joke on Steinberg and Reddicliffe, a joke that would be obvious to them and other journalist insiders.  But Joe Audience would not have caught the joke.  I didn't, even when I knew to look for it.

This is not as egregious as, say, Time magazine using a communist spy to help them report from Vietnam during that war, or Jayson Blair fabricating just about everything he wrote for the New York Times.  But it might rank with ABC falling for a guy pretending to be "Buckwheat" of the Little Rascals, or Slate for a story on the fake sport of "monkey fishing."

Fox News, welcome to the club.