Fox Sports, covering a football game between the Chicago Bears and Atlanta Falcons (9/11/11), put up a bunch of headlines about Bears quarterback Jay Cutler’s knee problems:
Cutler Leaves With Injury
Cutler Lacks Courage
Cutler’s No Leader
“These are the actual headlines from the local papers in Chicago,” announcer Daryl Johnston declared. Wow, were the local papers really that harsh? Reporters from the Chicago Tribune remembered the press being pretty supportive of the injured player, actually, and accordingly suspected funny business. After their search of papers all over Illinois turned up no such headlines, Fox Sports admitted they had just made them up. “It was misleading,” spokesperson Dan Bell told the Trib (9/18/11; Poynter, 9/19/11).
Fox Sports is, of course, owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, a conglomerate notable for its ethical challenges. In other News Corp news, a preliminary study of movie review conflicts of interest found that Murdoch-owned outlets gave significantly better reviews to films released by 20th Century Fox, their corporate sibling.
The boost amounted to an extra star for every 12 Fox movies reviewed. Outlets owned by Time Warner, by contrast, did not appear to give higher ratings to films put out by that conglomerate’s Warner Brothers studio–though they did review such films earlier and at greater length.