Fox News contributor Susan Estrich included Brit Hume, Carl Cameron, and the anchors of Fox News Live among those at Fox News who don't "put a point of view forward." But Estrich overlooked statements by each clearly expressing "a point of view" and even indicating "who they support." She also ignored numerous instances, documented by Media Matters, of hard-news reporters at Fox advancing conservative misinformation.
In a May 21 FoxNews.com column, Fox News contributor Susan Estrich included Washington managing editor Brit Hume, chief political correspondent Carl Cameron, and the anchors of Fox News Live among "the hundreds of other people" at Fox News who -- unlike commentators Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, and John Gibson -- don't "put forward a point of view" but rather "do their jobs every day without giving anyone a hint of who they support in their private lives." But Estrich overlooked statements by each expressing clearly "a point of view" and even indicating "who they support." Hume told The Washington Post that he is a "conservative"; Fox News Live anchor David Asman has referred to Republicans as "we," and Cameron was involved in two incidents that gave clear "hint[s]" about whom he supported during the last two presidential elections. During the 2000 race, a video showed Cameron and George W. Bush discussing opportunities for "counterpunches" against then-Vice President Al Gore; in 2004, FoxNews.com retracted a report in which Cameron falsely attributed quotes to 2004 Democratic nominee Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) in an attempt to ridicule Kerry for purportedly receiving a manicure. In addition, Media Matters has documented numerous instances in which Hume, Cameron, and many of the "hundreds of others" of purportedly hard-news reporters at Fox have been sources of conservative misinformation.
Estrich was responding to critics of Fox News in general, but specifically Bob Cesca's May 17 entry on the Huffington Post weblog. She wrote that, based on what critics have said, "You'd think there was no news organization at Fox, that we ran nothing but O'Reilly, Hannity and Gibson, 24/7."
In fact, some at Fox have given more than a "hint" of "who they support in their private lives":
- Carl Cameron: As Media Matters has noted, Robert Greenwald's film Outfoxed includes footage of Cameron and then-candidate Bush talking before an interview in 2000. Cameron told Bush that his wife was now "having fun" campaigning with Bush's sister and talked about Bush's opportunities for "counterpunches" against Gore. Cameron claimed that the editing of the clip in the film created the impression of bias on Cameron's part.
Also, on October 1, 2004, FoxNews.com retracted and apologized for Cameron's fake "Trail Tales" report that falsely attributed quotes to Kerry in an attempt to ridicule Kerry over receiving a manicure, which Cameron reported he received on September 30, 2004. The network reportedly reprimanded Cameron and stated that "[t]he item was based on a reporter's partial script that had been written in jest and should not have been posted or broadcast." The network blamed the "error" on "fatigue and bad judgment, not malice."
However, as Media Matters noted at the time, prior to the September 30, 2004, presidential debate, Cameron reported on Special Report with Brit Hume that Kerry got "a predebate manicure." Fox News hosts and contributors, including Estrich, quickly picked up on Cameron's report, discussing the reported manicure five separate times in the three hours preceding the debate.
From the September 30, 2004, edition of Fox News' 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?
ESTRICH: 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.
Recently, after USA Today reported that the National Security Agency (NSA) is collecting millions of Americans' phone-call records, Media Matters noted Cameron's suggestion that "the idea that so many Democrats are complaining about the NSA programs without really knowing what they are is precisely why so many Republicans say Democrats just aren't serious about security." However, Cameron's report ignored complaints by Republicans about the NSA's collection of call records. Media Matters has noted many other examples of Cameron's false or misleading reports.
- David Asman: As Media Matters documented, Fox News Live anchor Asman responded to Sen. Trent Lott's (R-MS) suggestion that Senate Republicans had the necessary votes to invoke the so-called nuclear option -- and that such a step was necessary -- by asking Lott why Republican senators had compromised on the issue. Why compromise, Asman asked, "if we should have done it and if we had the votes to do it?" Asman later clarified that it was "you guys in the Republican Party" who had the votes.
- Brit Hume: According to an April 19 Washington Post profile by media critic Howard Kurtz, Hume said, "Sure, I'm a conservative, no doubt about it." While Hume, according to Kurtz, further stated that he would "ask people to look at the work," Media Matters noted the many false and misleading reports Hume has made as a Fox News host and commentator.
From Estrich's May 21 FoxNews.com column titled "Fox News Under Attack, Again ... ":
If he were the only example of an attack on Fox News today or this week or this month, I would do what I tell my children to do with name callers, which is to ignore them. But just today, in addition to Cesca's assault (on Gibson, O'Reilly, and Hannity), I read another attack on "Fox pundits" -- singling out Neil Cavuto for "sucking up" -- and another round occasioned by Tony Snow's first briefing at the White House.
Mr. Cesca's mistake, and it is a common one, is that he confuses reporters and anchors, who are paid to be objective and cover the news, and do so, with commentators and hosts, who are expected to put forward a point of view. Is there anyone in the world who would expect impartiality from Bill O'Reilly? From Sean Hannity?
I remember the days when John Gibson was a reporter, but he isn't one anymore, and he doesn't pretend to be. He doesn't cover the news, he comments on it. That's his job. What does Mr. Cesca expect?
I'd certainly be the last to complain if Mr. Cesca were arguing that he'd like to see more progressives like me with their own shows or regular slots on Fox News, but that's never their point. You'd think that Sean Hannity's liberal co-host, Alan Colmes, didn't exist, reading the criticism. You'd think there was no news organization at Fox, that we ran nothing but O'Reilly, Hannity and Gibson, 24/7.
What about Fox News Live? What about Greta Van Susteren, whose only agenda, as far as I can tell, is to help find missing girls and punish wayward teachers? What about Brit Hume and Brian Wilson and Carl Cameron and Ramblin' Rick [Leventhal, FoxNews.com reporter and blogger] and Steve Harrigan and Shep[ard] Smith and Laurie Dhue and the hundreds of other people who do their jobs every day without giving anyone a hint of who they support in their private lives?
Enough is enough. What gives people who have never worked a day in the news business the right to throw stones and call names with impunity, because Fox News is the target?
I've taken a lot of heat from the left for working for Fox News, and frankly, I'm a little bit sick of it. The truth is that I've been very well treated at Fox: I say what I want; I'm treated with respect; and I'm paid well.