Times Fires Back at FNC’s Tactics

By Chris Ariens 

A growing imbroglio between The New York Times and Fox News Channel has escalated into a stunning pull-back-the-curtains look at what Times columnist David Carr calls the FNC “public relations machine that will go feral if it doesn’t get what it wants.”

First, the backstory: Last Saturday Times’ reporter Jacques Steinberg wrote this story titled “Fox News Finds Its Rivals Closing In.” Then on Wednesday the Fox & Friends team, complete with distorted images of Steinberg and his editor, Steven Reddicliffe, fired back.

Carr, in what is both a defense of his colleagues and a telling look at how the FNC “public relations apparatus” works, writes, “Fox News found a huge runway and enormous success by setting aside the conventions of bloodless objectivity, but along the way, it altered the rules of engagement between reporters and the media organizations they cover.”

Carr calls the Steinberg/Reddicliffe episode the latest “vivid example” of how FNC PR works, but talks to colleagues who’ve had similar experiences. Times reporter Bill Carter, who has a good working relationship with Fox News, “was appalled to see what he viewed as an anti-Semitic caricature of Mr. Steinberg.” Fox News EVP of corporate communications Brian Lewis says the anti-Semitic characterization is “vile and untrue.”

Carr also spoke with “two former Fox employees” who had “participated in precisely those kinds of activities.” But they signed confidentiality agreements and could not talk about it for the record.

Still, even after splaying the subjects of his story, from whom it would only be right to seek comment, Carr writes, “For the record, everyone I dealt with at Fox News in connection with this column was polite, highly responsive, and got right to the point, while still not giving ground on a single material fact.”

(graphic: Media Matters)