The Fox News clan is famously protective of their own. The network's hair-trigger communications team issues witheringly snarky responses to even the mildest of criticisms, responses that often delve into their intended target's professional (and personal) failings. Bill O'Reilly and other on-air personalities will go on tirades against the network's critics, wrapping in personal jabs as they defend the integrity of their employer.
And while you expect that sort of stuff from bombasts like O'Reilly and Glenn Beck, some of the most outrageous of the recriminatory attacks have come from... the weather guy.
Steve Doocy, co-host of the bubbly and poisonous Fox & Friends, stood outside in the New York snow this morning to give the national weather forecast, but before he had finished telling us what today's temperatures will be, he launched into a jarring from-left-field rant about the "lefty website" Politico.com and reporter Ben Smith, who, in Doocy's words, "wrote a column about a guy here at Fox News Channel." Doocy read aloud a pair of online reader comments that had been posted to the "column" attacking Smith, presenting them as evidence of... well, something.
As it turns out, the "column about a guy here at Fox News Channel" was actually a blog post about Fox News president Roger Ailes in which Smith had apparently sinned by excerpting a recent Esquire profile of Ailes. The seeming randomness of the whole episode would lead one to think that Doocy had gone rogue for a moment and crudely attached a bit of ill-conceived media criticism to the end of a weather report. That, however, would not explain the on-screen graphics with Smith's photo that Fox News had at the ready.
Nope, Doocy's segment was planned. It was conceived ahead of time and someone at Fox News gave the go-ahead for Steve Doocy to attack another journalist using anonymous online comments. It's strange enough on its own, but Doocy's stunt this morning was only the most recent of his over-the-top and bizarre attacks on critics who have run afoul of Roger Ailes and Fox News.
The most famous of these incidents happened back in July 2008, when Media Matters caught Doocy and the Fox & Friends crew airing photos of New York Times reporters that had been Photoshopped to make the men almost comically grotesque (yellowed teeth, bulbous noses, receding hairlines, etc.) The segment was a response to an article the reporters had written suggesting that Fox News' ratings might be declining. No apology was ever offered by the network, and Bill O'Reilly even attempted to defend his colleagues' conduct.
In October 2009, after then-White House communications director Anita Dunn called Fox News "a wing of the Republican Party," Doocy took to the air to describe the White House criticism as "stuff like we've been covering in Venezuela where Hugo Chavez doesn't like what he sees on television and says 'go shut that channel down.' "
After Sarah Palin joined the network as a contributor in early 2010, Doocy counted himself among her many Fox News defenders. Speaking to an Alaska journalist writing a book on Palin (whom Doocy derided as having an "agenda"), Doocy cryptically suggested that he might be accidentally shot: "Mr. McGinnis, if you're watching right now, I would be very careful wearing hats out there, because in the wrong hat, in the wrong light, could appear to be antlers. And that could be perilous out there in Wasilla." When President Obama declined to comment on Palin's criticism of the new START Treaty, saying instead that he'll rely on his advisers' opinions, Doocy described Obama's remarks as "not presidential" and a "shot" at Palin (you really have to watch the video to see Doocy's aggrieved enunciation of "shot.")
Also worth noting is that this morning wasn't the first time Doocy has farmed blog comments to take on his perceived opponents. Last June he quoted a "blogger comment on GatewayPundit" to attack Obama's response to the D-Day anniversary.
Doocy's antics are stranger than most, but they're perfectly representative of the Fox News mindset -- always on offense, no backing down, fierce loyalty, and no apologies.