Latest Glimpse of Fox’s Culture of Lying?

A front-page story in today’s New York Times strongly suggests that Roger Ailes–the News Corp executive who runs the Fox News Channel, the Fox Business Network, and Fox broadcast stations–urged a witness to lie to federal officials in order to protectfriend and politician Rudolph Giuliani.

If true, what may be most remarkable about the story is how unsurprising it is coming from Fox. Other networks surely harbor biases, but it would be surprising to find, say, that a top ABC News executive had suborned perjury in a partisan ploy to protect a politician.

But if the allegations against Ailes are true, it’s only the latest glimpse of the culture of lying that pervades Fox and its News Corp parent.

In addition to a well-documented habit of on-air distortion, it’s important to remember that Fox has argued in court that that the First Amendment gives broadcasters the right to lie.

The case, heard before a Florida court in 2002-03, was appealing a $425,000 judgment against Fox, that found its local Tampa affiliate WTVT had wrongfully fired reporter Jane Akre when she refused to falsify a story about the safety of Bovine Growth Hormone (BGH). WTVT‘s pressure on Akre and her partner Steve Wilson to insert false material into the story reportedly came after Monsanto, which produces BGH, complained to Ailes about the anticipated report.(Ailes was not directly in charge of Fox broadcast stations at the time; he wouldn’t assume that job until 2005, but was known as one of the most powerful and influential News Corp executives.)

About Steve Rendall

Senior Media Analyst and Co-producer of CounterSpin Steve Rendall is FAIR's senior analyst. He is co-host of CounterSpin, FAIR's national radio show. His work has received awards from Project Censored, and has won the praise of noted journalists such as Les Payne, Molly Ivins and Garry Wills. He is co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error (The New Press, 1995, New York City). Rendall has appeared on dozens of national television and radio shows, including appearances on CNN, C-SPAN, CNBC, MTV and Fox Morning News. He was the subject of a profile in the New York Times (5/19/96), and has been quoted on issues of media and politics in publications such as the Chicago Tribune, Washington Post and New York Times. Rendall contributed stories to the International Herald Tribune from France, Spain and North Africa; worked as a freelance writer in San Francisco; and worked as an archivist collecting historical material on the Spanish Civil War and the volunteers who fought in it. Rendall studied philosophy and chemistry at San Francisco State University, the College of Notre Dame and UC Berkeley.