Anatomy of a Fox News Story or How to Lie Without Actually Lying

by Pitt Griffin on January 3, 2018 · 0 comments

in Media, Politics

Fox News published a story (read it here) with this exuberant headline displayed below a modestly sized “THE CLINTONS”:


Let’s break it down. It starts with “Hillary Clinton”: Which alerts the Fox news fan to turn up the Hillary slime dial. Next, we have “backer” — so it’s a conspiracy. Then “$500G” — so it’s a big bucks conspiracy. “fund women”, which will fire up the misogyny. “accusing” — read ‘bitches’.

Then “Trump” — the hero is introduced. “sexual misconduct” — titillating, but safely PG13. “before Election Day” —  it’s Clinton election fixing. And perhaps most telling, “report says”. So Fox admits it’s merely using someone else’s work.

Whose work? Ironically, despite the Fox talking heads’ ongoing war against “fake news”, it is from the NY Times. (You can read the report here)

The NY Times story is a survey of the money and support flowing to victims of sexual abuse so they could pursue cases against their abusers. Notably, the story didn’t pick political sides and gave examples of largesse from across the political spectrum. From Jack Burkman and Mike Cernovich in the conservative corner to Gloria Allred and David Brock on the liberal wing.

It mentions Fox’s own Sean Hannity, its erstwhile Bill O’Reilly and ‘far-right activist Charles Johnson’. None of whom make it into Fox’s distillation of the Times’ piece

Anyway, the story, as usual for the New York Times, is well researched and thorough. It goes into detail and covers a lot of ground. And then we get to the 35th paragraph:

… while the fashion entrepreneur Susie Tompkins Buell, a major donor to Mr. Brock’s suite of groups, gave $500,000 to Ms. Bloom’s firm for the last-ditch effort.

This is Fox’s headline. Let me repeat, Fox News ripped their headline from the 35th paragraph.

And what happened to the money? And how was Clinton tied to this? The Times goes on:

It was not productive. One woman requested $2 million, Ms. Bloom said, then decided not to come forward. Nor did any other women.

Ms. Bloom said she refunded most of the cash, keeping only “some funds to pay for our out-of-pocket expenses” accrued while working to vet and prepare cases. She said that she did not receive any legal fees for the work, and that she did not communicate with Mrs. Clinton or her campaign “on any of this.”

So Bloom didn’t keep most of the money. And neither Hillary Clinton nor her campaign knew anything about it.

In fairness, Fox News covers this in their story — almost verbatim — but, I suspect, long after most Fox News consumers have moved on to the sports section.

So there you have it. Fox is too lazy to do original reporting. It reports selectively what other sources have said. Leaves out anything questionable about its own team. Inserts into the body of the text a video about ‘Clinton Inc’, that has no relationship to the report. And puts the cherry-picked tale under a lurid headline  — with a picture — shining a spotlight on Hillary Clinton. Who had nothing to do with the story.

However, the average Fox aficionado is now further convinced that Hillary personally funded an illegal attempt to deny Trump his well-earned presidency. Which Fox News can credibly deny it said (wink wink).

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