Uh Oh, Fox News Has a Mole

Regular dispatches from the belly of the beast
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Gawker announces today that their new writer is a current Fox News Channel employee, who shall remain nameless. He (or she) brought along a video, showing Mitt Romney before an appearance on the Sean Hannity show, discussing the horses Romney and his wife own, and warning each other that it’s not a good subject to bring up on the air.

Here’s the part of The Fox Mole’s post I found especially interesting, in light of all our recent articles looking at the vile, racist comments frequently posted at Fox News and their “community” site, Fox Nation:

The final straw for me came last year. Oddly, it wasn’t anything on TV that turned me rogue, though plenty of things on our air had pushed me in that direction over the years. But what finally broke me was a story on The Fox Nation. If you’re not a frequenter of Fox Nation (and if you’re reading Gawker, it’s a pretty safe bet you’re not) I can describe it for you — it’s like an unholy mashup of the Drudge Report, the Huffington Post and a Klan meeting. Word around the office is that the site was actually the brainchild of Bill O’Reilly’s chief stalker (and Gawker pal) Jesse Watters.

The Nation aggregates news stories, gives them provocative headlines, and invites commenters to weigh in. The comments are fascinating actually, if you can detach yourself enough to view them as sort of the id of the conservative movement. Of course, if you can’t detach yourself, then you’re going to come away with a diminished view of human decency, because HOLY MOLY THESE PEOPLE DO NOT LIKE THE BLACK PRESIDENT. I’m not saying they dislike him BECAUSE he’s black, but a lot of the comments, unprompted, mention the fact that he is black, so what would you say, Dr. Freud?

The Fox Nation moderators, realizing that they had a problem on their hands, did the absolute bare minimum, hiring one or two college kids to comb the comments for the most egregiously racist postings, and putting in automatic text filters that blocked various key words. Of course the intrepid commenters quickly found ways around these filters using letter substitutions and spacings, which is why many comments complain about our “n@gger president” and the “M u s l i m in the White House.”

So the site has become the seedy underbelly of the Fox News online empire. It’s surprising that we even have an online empire, considering that our fan base is mostly septuagenarian technophobes.

The post that broke the camel’s back might be familiar to some of you, because it garnered a lot of attention and (well-deserved) ridicule when it hit last August. The item was aggregating several news sources that were reporting innocuously on President Obama’s 50th birthday party, which was attended by the usual mix of White House staffers, DC politicos and Dem-friendly celebs. The Fox Nation, naturally, chose to illustrate the story with a photo montage of Obama, Charles Barkley, Chris Rock, and Jay Z, and the headline “Obama’s Hip Hop BBQ Didn’t Create Jobs.”

The post neatly summed up everything that had been troubling me about my employer: Non sequitur, ad hominem attacks on the president; gleeful race baiting; a willful disregard for facts; and so on. It came close on the heels of the Common controversy, which exhibited a lot of the same ugly traits. (See also: terrorist fist jabs; Fox & Friends madrassa accusations; etc.)

The worst thing about the Hip Hop BBQ incident is that we didn’t back away from it. Bill Shine, who is a rather important guy—sort of Roger Ailes’ main hatchet man, and the go-between for Ailes and most of the top talent—bafflingly doubled down and defended it. The story still exists on the Fox Nation site, headline and photo montage intact, to this very day.

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