Fox News has repeatedly attacked General Electric (GE) for paying "no taxes" in 2010, using GE's actions to attack President Obama. However, records show that News Corp., Fox News' parent company, also paid no federal taxes for at least several years in the past two decades.
Fox News Watch has some explaining to do.
In its leading segment on Saturday's show, host Jon Scott criticized NBC News for waiting a week to report on the fact that General Electric paid $0 in taxes for their 2010 fiscal year. However, that's not the original point Scott was planning to make. As the Huffington Post discovered, Fox originally intended to hit NBC for not reporting on the story at all and began filming the segment by falsely claiming that they had ignored the GE tax story. However, as guest Jim Pinkerton immediately noted, NBC News did report on this, at length, on their March 31 broadcast of NBC Nightly News.
As Scott introduced the segment, on-screen text read "GE's Big Tax Story Not News for NBC News?" When asked to comment about NBC's supposed lack of reporting on GE's tax dodge, Pinkerton interjected, stating, "They covered it last night." What followed was a moderately-paced train wreck that led one of the show's producers, off-screen, to yell cut. But here's the best part: They didn't cut the take because Scott had gotten a key fact of his story wrong. They cut the take because, says the producer: "I didn't like the way you looked." Seriously.
While they thought they were not being filmed, the host and panelists then discussed what would be said in the second take of the segment. The conversation included Pinkerton--a conservative columnist--expressing his gratitude for the take being reshot because he didn't want the host to "wind up looking bad" for being corrected "in the first seconds" of the show. He then took the time to discuss with the host how the story should be framed. That dialogue, as follows:
PRODUCER (Off-Screen): Cut! Cut!
PINKERTON: I was going to say--
PRODUCER (Off-Screen): Cut!
PINKERTON: --I'm glad we're not doing this. Yeah, cut.
PRODUCER (Off-Screen): Sorry.
SCOTT: What happened?
PINKERTON: You can't. It was on last night, on NBC News, this story. They said - you know, and that was kind of the point.
CAL THOMAS: Did you see it?
PINKERTON: I did.
THOMAS: Oh, OK.
COLMES: Why are we cut?
PRODUCER (Off-Screen): I didn't like the way you looked.
SCOTT: Right. But the point is - and you need to remember Thursday night.
JUDY MILLER: So -
PINKERTON: Right, and I was wrong about that, but I thought we were just going to stop it because to me -I don't want-- you wind up looking bad if I correct you -
SCOTT: Right. But the point -
PINKERTON: --In the first seconds.
SCOTT: The point, the point is that it took them a week, basically.
MILLER: Yes, and, alright--
PINKERTON: Okay, it took them a week. That's true. ABC did it Wednesday night, and NBC did it Thursday night, so you can say ABC kind of shamed NBC.
SCOTT: But the Times did it Friday, and -
PINKERTON: I understand.
SCOTT: --and having worked there -
PINKERTON: I'm all set to pound away on this subject.
MILLER: And I am, too, with another issue.
Incredibly, all of this was captured on film and posted on Fox News Watch's own website, proving that the show's sloppiness extends all the way to its online content.
Miller, however, is absolutely correct. Not only would it have been better "to get it right" by doing a second take, it would have been better to have researched the story in the first place and made sure you had it "right" before you went to air. After all, this is supposed to be a media criticism show on a so-called credible news network. One would think that part of their job would be to make sure their criticism was actually based in fact. Right?
This morning, Fox & Friends co-host Gretchen Carlson and guests Stuart Varney and Noelle Nikpour went right to work planting a seed in viewers' minds: Is President Obama's appointment of General Electric CEO Jeffery Immelt as head of a new Council on Jobs and Competitiveness a "payback" or "pay off?"
Here's Varney kicking off the baseless accusations that Obama "paid off" Immelt for what Varney claimed was Immelt's "dutiful services running NBC for the Democrats":
VARNEY: You could also say this is a payoff. This is Mr. Immelt of GE, which owned, formerly, NBC, which was turned into an arm of the Democratic Party in the run-up to the elections of 2008 and for the next two years after that. Maybe he's being paid off for his dutiful services running NBC for the Democrats.
Later on Fox & Friends, Carlson adopted Varney's claim and used it to invite Nikpour, a Fox News contributor, to attack Obama. Echoing Varney, Carlson asked, "Is putting Jeffrey Immelt, the CEO of GE, payback -- because GE used to control NBC and NBC rooted very loudly for President Obama when he was campaigning. Is it payback?" Nikpour responded by saying, in part: "It's all about paying back someone who's helped you along the campaign. I mean, he's shown this with the unions and for everything else. It's payback. It's pay-to-play system; it's a Chicago-style of politics."
So, in Fox & Friends' world, it's not at all possible that Obama's selection of Immelt, as The Associated Press reported, "underscor[es] the administration's efforts to build stronger ties to the business community."
Nope. It's a "payoff" that's indicative of the administration's "Chicago-style of politics."
From the January 21 broadcast of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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It's no secret that Fox News doesn't live up to its "fair and balanced" slogan, especially when one considers its coverage of the LGBT community. In fact, much of its coverage is openly antagonistic and downright homophobic. On issue after issue of importance, the network, its hosts, anchors, contributors, and guests offer up lies, misinformation, and right-wing spin that only further stigmatizes the gay and lesbian community.
The worst examples of Fox News coverage on LGBT issues can be found after the jump.
A review of Fox News' employment practices however, reveals a network at odds with its own homophobic public image. The dichotomy reminds me a bit of the recently outed state legislator with the staunchly anti-gay voting record.
Republican California State Senator Roy Ashburn was arrested for driving under the influence after reportedly leaving a Sacramento gay bar with an unidentified male passenger. Several days after circumstances surrounding his arrest and personal life spread in the media, Ashburn announced that he was gay and that he would continue to vote against the LGBT community because that's what the constituents from his conservative district would want.
Perhaps Fox News really is taking a page from Ashburn. Just as the California legislator has quietly acknowledged the fact that he's a gay man, News Corp. (and by extension Fox News) has quietly been offering workplace protections and benefits to its gay and lesbian employees.
According to an examination of the Human Rights Campaign's (HRC) employer database, News Corp. (Fox News' parent company) has had a policy protecting employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation since at least 2005 and has offered health care benefits to same-sex partners since at least 1999. Time Warner (CNN's parent company) and General Electric (NBC/MSNBC's parent company) offer not only these basic protections to gay and lesbian employees, they appear to go even further.
The HRC's Corporate Equality Index rates Time Warner and General Electric with 100 percent and 80 percent, respectively, while News Corp. has yet to complete the survey that HRC uses to establish its index. News Corp. would give us a better understanding of how it treats LGBT employees on a variety of other important issues by completing the survey, but the media company does deserve credit for at least offering some very basic protections and benefits for gay and lesbian employees.
Lack of a Corporate Equality Index rating notwithstanding, News Corp. has taken its support for LGBT employees a step further by sponsoring the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA) which describes itself on its website as "an organization of journalists, media professionals, educators and students working from within the news industry to foster fair and accurate coverage of LGBT issues." In fact, the program from the organization's annual conference last fall in Montréal included an ad from News Corp. stating: "The networks of Fox News honor NLGJA for its commitment to fair and balanced reporting. From your friends at Fox News Channel, Fox Business, News Corporation."
Reached for comment over email, NLGJA managing director Michael Tune said, "We try to have as expansive a network as possible in order to reach into every newsroom to accomplish our mission. News Corp. is a major employer of journalists nationwide, and NLGJA has had a very open and supportive dialog with them over the years regarding fair and accurate coverage of the LGBT community."
Tune added, "NLGJA's Rapid Response Task Force was created to respond to coverage of the LGBT community that is not fair and accurate. When we reach out to a news provider, it is often with the help of our member employees or other contacts within a company." He continued, "Often the relationship we have built with a company through its support of NLGJA makes it easier to work together."
I sought out Fox News' Brian Lewis, executive vice president of corporate communications, and Irena Briganti, senior vice president of media relations, last week for comment on the conflict between the network's public posturing against LGBT equality and its support for LGBT employees, but I've not yet received a response.
Just as Sen. Ashburn plans to continue his history of voting against the LGBT community to appease the homophobic conservative district he serves, News Corp. (and by extension Fox News) shows no signs of pulling back on the homophobic red meat it has fed its public -- the conservative audience that drives its ratings.
That ultimately is what's truly sad about News Corp.'s relationship with its LGBT "friends." The media company gives its employees decent protections and benefits while making the lives of the very same employees more difficult in the long-run by broadcasting homophobia and misinformation that harden anti-LGBT views and slow the movement for full equality under the law.