Fox Fix: In AP Reports, "Shutdown" Becomes "Slimdown"

Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

Fox News is trying to downplay the effects of the Republican-led government shutdown by replacing "shutdown" with "slimdown" in Associated Press reports posted on FoxNews.com. The changes have appeared in headlines, a photo caption, and story ledes. 

FoxNews.com even replaced "shutdown" with "slimdown" when promoting an original FoxNews.com article that took issue with Fox's use of "slimdown." Fox News host Howard Kurtz wrote in a column that the "Fox News website keeps using the term 'slimdown' instead of shutdown, though no one would claim this was some kind of sensible Weight Watchers method of trimming government spending." Kurtz's column has the headline, "Spin Wars: Is the shutdown about blackmail or ObamaCare?" -- but Fox modified the headline to "KURTZ: Is slimdown about blackmail or ObamaCare?" on its front page. 

FoxNews.com's homepage as of 11:20am:  

An unbylined FoxNews.com story offered a rationale for using "slimdown," suggesting that "shutdown" is the Obama administration's preferred term but it's "turning out to be more of a 'slimdown,' as all but non-essential workers reported to their jobs Tuesday. The biggest impact is expected to be felt for the 800,000 or so federal workers facing furlough. But hundreds of thousands of other workers are reporting for work, and a patchwork of services remains open to the public as lawmakers and the White House continue to battle over a spending package." In reality, the government shutdown has wide ranging effects on the country.

CNN's Carol Costello, Slate's Matthew Yglesias, and The Atlantic's Dashiell Bennett have criticized Fox News' adoption of the "slimdown" term. 

Fox previously changed Associated Press reports to fit its own style guide regarding "suicide" bombers versus "homicide" bombers. During the Bush administration, Fox News adopted the term "homicide" bombers and bombings after the Bush administration used the term to describe the attacks.

Here are five examples of FoxNews.com changing Associated Press reports and language to replace "shutdown" with "slimdown":

FoxNews.com posted a repurposed Associated Press article with the headline, "Obama shortens Asia trip due to government slimdown." The lede states: "President Obama has canceled planned visits to Malaysia and the Philippines next week because of the government slimdown." However AP.org's headline is "OBAMA SHORTENS ASIA TRIP BECAUSE OF SHUTDOWN" and the lede is: "President Barack Obama has canceled two stops on his long-planned trip to Asia because of the partial government shutdown, the White House announced Wednesday."

FoxNews.com posted an October 2 AP article with the lede: "The roiling debate over the partial suspension of government services is extending to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram as fed-up Americans turn to social media to register their disgust with federal lawmakers for slimming down the government." The AP article posted on AP.org does not refer to a "slimming down" of government, instead stating: "The roiling debate over the U.S. government shutdown is extending to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram as fed-up Americans turn to social media to register their disgust with federal lawmakers for shutting down the government."

FoxNews.com posted an October 2 article with contributions from the AP headlined: "George Clooney hopes government slimdown ends soon." The article began: "George Clooney knows the country is going through a tough time with the government slimdown." AP.org's original article carries the headline, "GEORGE CLOONEY HOPES GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN ENDS SOON" and has the opening: "George Clooney knows the country is going through a tough time with the partial government shutdown."  

FoxNews.com posted an October 2 AP article with the headline, "D-Day cemetery among the victims of government slimdown." AP.org's headline reads: "D-DAY CEMETERY AMONG THE VICTIMS OF US SHUTDOWN."

An AP photo caption on a FoxNews.com article reads: "People walk near Capitol Hill in Washington as the government's slimdown enters a second day." AP.org's caption states (second photo in slideshow): "In this Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, file photo, people walk near Capitol Hill in Washington. As the government's partial shutdown enters a second day."

Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel, FoxNews.com
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