The Hannity Video Fiasco raises an awful lot of interesting questions, none of which Hannity answered last night when he confirmed his program had "screwed up" when it inserted video clip of the much larger Sept. 12, D.C. Tea Party rally crowd, for a story on the much smaller anti-health care rally last week in D.C. (See Jon Stewart's take-down below.)
The journalism questions in play remain obvious: Who did pulled the misleading video clips from the archives, who inserted them in the wrong story, and which producers OKed it? What Hannity and nobody else at Fox News will discuss is, how did this happen? And what steps will Fox News take to make sure it never happens again?
That's what news organizations usually do when embarrassing episodes like this crop up. But since Fox News doesn't really function as a news outlet any more, I sort of doubt that kind of introspection will take place.
But still, it seems telling that there exists a culture inside Fox News where staffers think it's OK to insert wildly misleading videotape into a primetime program. Just like it seemed telling that during the actual Tea Party coverage back on Sept. 12, one producer thought it was OK to cheer on the crowd prior to a news report; to treat the partisan Tea Party crowd as if it were an in-studio Fox News one.
My point is that these two embarrassing episodes seem to highlight what Media Matters has been stressing all year, which is that Fox News no longer even pretends to follow the traditional guidelines of journalism. And there seems to be a culture within Fox News where everyday staffers have decided there are no rules left. That they don't actually work for a "news" organization.