Despite finding the time to discuss "bow-gate," Fox News Sunday ignored reports of alleged Blackwater bribes

››› ››› GREG LEWIS

Despite finding the time to discuss the manner in which President Obama greeted the emperor of Japan on the November 15 broadcast of Fox News Sunday, there was no time during the program devoted to recent reports that officials at Xe Services -- formerly Blackwater Worldwide -- had allegedly authorized about $1 million in bribery payments to Iraqi officials in the aftermath of a fatal shooting involving Blackwater security guards. By contrast, Fox News Sunday has previously devoted 18 minutes of broadcast time to discussing videos of conservative activists James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles posing as a pimp and a prostitute while asking for assistance from employees at an ACORN office, which followed Fox News' aggressive promotion and coverage of the undercover videos.

Fox News Sunday ignores alleged Blackwater bribe scandal

NY Times: Blackwater executives "authorized secret payments of about $1 million to Iraqi officials" to"silence their criticism and buy their support." From a November 10 New York Times article:

Top executives at Blackwater Worldwide authorized secret payments of about $1 million to Iraqi officials that were intended to silence their criticism and buy their support after a September 2007 episode in which Blackwater security guards fatally shot 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad, according to former company officials.

Blackwater approved the cash payments in December 2007, the officials said, as protests over the deadly shootings in Nisour Square stoked long-simmering anger inside Iraq about reckless practices by the security company's employees. American and Iraqi investigators had already concluded that the shootings were unjustified, top Iraqi officials were calling for Blackwater's ouster from the country, and company officials feared that Blackwater might be refused an operating license it would need to retain its contracts with the State Department and private clients, worth hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

Four former executives said in interviews that Gary Jackson, who was then Blackwater's president, had approved the bribes and that the money was sent from Amman, Jordan, where the company maintains an operations hub, to a top manager in Iraq. The executives, though, said they did not know whether the cash was delivered to Iraqi officials or the identities of the potential recipients.

Blackwater's strategy of buying off the government officials, which would have been illegal under American law, created a deep rift inside the company, according to the former executives. [The New York Times, 11/10/09]

On Fox News Sunday, there was no coverage or discussion of the Blackwater story. A Media Matters for America review of the November 15 broadcast of Fox News Sunday indicates that neither host Chris Wallace nor any of his guests discussed Blackwater or Xe Services.

Fox News Sunday panel discussed "bow-gate." However, despite not reporting on or discussing the Blackwater story, the Fox News Sunday panel discussed the manner in which Obama greeted Japanese Emperor Akihito, which Wallace referred to as "bow-gate." Wallace introduced the discussion by noting that "the Internet is abuzz" with a photograph of Obama appearing to bow while meeting Akihito, which Wallace then compared to a photograph of then-Vice President Dick Cheney standing upright while shaking Akihito's hand. Panelist Liz Cheney said in reply, "You could also look at the comparison and think, 'Cheney 2012.' " Panelist Bill Kristol later added, "It's not appropriate for an American president to bow to a foreign monarch."

Following Fox News' lead, Fox News Sunday promoted, amplified Breitbart's ACORN videographers

Fox News Sunday devoted a total of 18 minutes, on two separate broadcasts, to the ACORN controversy. Previously, Fox News Sunday had devoted a total of 18 minutes of programming time on two consecutive broadcasts to covering videos of conservative activists James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles posing as a pimp and a prostitute while asking for assistance from employees at an ACORN office. During the September 20 broadcast of Fox News Sunday, Wallace conducted an interview with ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) to discuss the controversy. During the September 27 broadcast of the program, Wallace aired a segment on O'Keefe, in which he advanced several of O'Keefe's claims without noting that they are contradicted by readily available evidence and labeled O'Keefe the "Power Player of the Week."

Fox News, led by Glenn Beck, facilitated Breitbart's release of the videos. During the September 9 edition of his Fox News program, Beck previewed an "exclusive" that would air on his program the next day, which he claimed would make "things change a lot for those in power," and aired snippets of the first video released of O'Keefe and Giles. At 6:10 a.m. ET September 10, O'Keefe posted the video on Andrew Breitbart's website.

Fox News devoted more than one hour of evening broadcast to discussing ACORN tapes. In stark contrast to Fox News' evening shows' blackout of the Blackwater story, the day after Beck helped Breitbart publicize the ACORN videos, Fox News dedicated 1 hour, 1 minute, and 51 seconds to discussing the story, according to a Media Matters review of Fox News' programming between 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET on September 10. Beck himself spent 38 minutes and 11 seconds discussing the tapes that night.

FOX Broadcasting Company
William Kristol, Chris Wallace, Liz Cheney
FOX News Sunday
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