The Nature of College by James Farrell


All the News That’s Fit to Fox

In December, Bill Sammons, managing editor of Fox News in Washington, sent the following memo to staff:

From: Sammon, Bill
To: 169 -SPECIAL REPORT; 036 -FOX.WHU; 054 -FNSunday; 030 -Root (FoxNews.Com); 050 -Senior Producers; 051 -Producers; 069 -Politics; 005 -Washington
Cc: Clemente, Michael; Stack, John; Wallace, Jay; Smith, Sean
Sent: Tue Dec 08 12:49:51 2009
Subject: Given the controversy over the veracity of climate change data…

…we should refrain from asserting that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question. It is not our place as journalists to assert such notions as facts, especially as this debate intensifies.

This fits perfectly with the observations made by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway in Merchants of Doubt, which shows how scientists (well-funded by conservative organizations) obscured the truth about tobacco, ozone, acid rain and global warming.

But it also suggests another possibility, a memo, perhaps, suggesting that people might refrain from using the phrase “Fox News” without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that critics have called into question whether the channel broadcasts news, or just notions compatible with the success of the Republican Party and the profits of corporate America.