After FOX News Channel chief political correspondent Carl Cameron wrote a fake news story mocking Senator John Kerry that was published October 1 on FOXNews.com, blogger and journalist Joshua Micah Marshall posed a question to the network: "Why did comments very similar to Cameron's fabrications come up again and again from FOX commentators on debate night?"
As Marshall noted on October 1, the story as it originally appeared -- part of a FOXNews.com "Trail Tales" report containing several other items -- falsely attributed quotes to Kerry in an attempt to ridicule him over a manicure, which Cameron reported he received on September 30. Later that day, FOX News Channel issued a retraction and an apology, and the fake story was removed from the "Trail Tales" report. According to a New York Times article, FOX News Channel spokesman Paul Schur said: "This was a stupid mistake and a lapse in judgment, and Carl [Cameron] regrets it."
Following are some of the fabricated quotations appearing in Cameron's fake story:
"Didn't my nails and cuticles look great? What a good debate!" Kerry said Friday.
"Women should like me! I do manicures," Kerry said.
"I'm metrosexual -- he's a cowboy," the Democratic candidate said of himself and his opponent.
But Cameron's fake news story was not the first sign of FOX's fixation on the purported manicure. Prior to the first presidential debate, Cameron reported on Special Report with Brit Hume that Kerry got "a pre-debate manicure." FOX News Channel hosts and contributors quickly picked up on Cameron's report, discussing the reported manicure five separate times in the three hours preceding the debate. No other cable news channel mentioned the topic.
From the September 30 edition of FOX News Channel's Special Report with Brit Hume:
HUME: Carl, what's up with the manicure? Does he regularly get manicures?
CAMERON: Not so regularly. But suffice it to say in his hotel spa, some of the ladies today were particularly amused and excited about their appointment with John Kerry to get him set up for tonight's debate.
HUME: I've had a manicure in my life. It was a rather pleasant experience. But do you think it was the thing to do today, perhaps?
SUSAN ESTRICH (FOX News Channel contributor and Democratic strategist): No! No! No! Look, I get my nails done all the time. I mean, I'm a fool for manicures. But obviously, what John Kerry needs to do tonight, among other things, is make a connection with average working people. And probably the way to start doing that is not with a manicure. Now, you've had them. But my guess is most men don't stop on their way to an important event with a manicure. But my hope is for John Kerry's sake, is that tonight people will forget about the manicure.
HUME: [W]e now know that he got a manicure today. According to Carl Cameron, he got himself a manicure today. What's up with that?
MICHAEL BARONE (FOX News Channel political contributor): I see nothing wrong with a manicure. I've been advised by friend to get a manicure. But I confess, I've never done so.
HUME: Well, I've had a manicure. It's not an unpleasant experience.
MORTON M. KONDRACKE (FOX News Channel co-host of The Beltway Boys): It's not what folks do out in the country is get a manicure. Why do they announce this kind of thing?
HUME: Believe me, they didn't announce it.
KONDRACKE: All right. Well, it's all right. Then it's silly that he would have done it.
FRED BARNES (The Beltway Boys co-host): This is a man who needs to stop windsurfing, stop getting a manicure and desperately needs to go bowling.
BARONE: Well, he does -- I mean, this is a man who lives a lifestyle that's very dissimilar to that of the ordinary American person with five palatial houses.
HUME: You've got to wonder. This gesture, John Kerry, reporting for duty didn't work. I don't know that this will either.
From the September 30 edition of FOX News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor:
NEWT GINGRICH (FOX News Channel political contributor): Well, the first thing I would tell him [Kerry] to do is don't get a manicure. I can't imagine a dumber thing going into the debate than the last four hours of news broken, I think by Carl Cameron here on FOX News -- because it makes him look silly. And it guarantees that everyone in the country's going to look at his fingers early in the debate. I know that sounds small, but it's the little thing like Dukakis in a tank that just doesn't come across right and sort of jars people who are looking for an excuse to vote for him.
O'REILLY: Well, he did the tan thing, too. He did the spray-on tan thing, which I thought wasn't very smart. I mean, my line was, gee, you know, what do you think Osama bin Laden's going to think about this spray-on tan? Is that going to frighten him? I don't know if it will.
PAT CADDELL (FOX News Channel contributor and pollster): I'll tell you what, as a Democrat, I don't quite understand the fact that, you know, while the president's out meeting with people who've been, you know, hurricane survivors, my candidate is out there getting a manicure today and --
O'REILLY: No, the manicure thing -- and the tan thing, that was not good.