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Fox “Apologizes”

June 6th, 2007

Here is Fox News’ “apology” for “mistakenly” running the “wrong footage” yesterday, showing John Conyers instead of Bill Jefferson.

Several things to note here. First, the statement is so brief and, as Conyers himself put it, lackluster, that it in itself is almost an insult for that reason. If you blinked, you could have missed this statement. In fact, fully half of the statement simply recaps the story about a Democrat being indicted. The “apology” part takes all of five seconds.

Second, such an apology requires a special note to any person who is shown and labeled as corrupt and up on charges, but who is actually innocent. Not mentioning Conyers by name or apologizing directly to him was a grievous insult in itself, as if to say that no one specific was wronged.

Third, such an apology usually focuses on what was wrong about the error, and at least tries to dispel the belief that there was any intention behind it. Fox’s statement barely covered this, as one could infer from the word “mistakenly” that they did not intend to show what they did. But a proper apology would at least touch on the easily-inferred racial undertones and stated that such were not intended and no one should take offense. Not that such a statement would be believed, but at least it would be proper.

Fourth, the briefest possible “explanation,” that the footage was shown “mistakenly,” is hardly an explanation. Normal errors of this type are when footage of an upcoming story is queued up ready to go, and someone in the control room accidentally pushes the wrong button and the video is shown out of sequence with the commentary. However, this “error” was of a completely different order. The Conyers footage was not for any pending story. Instead, the Conyers footage had to be retrieved from archives where it by practice is carefully labeled and notated, and then reviewed and edited manually to select the appropriate small clip to be aired. Which means that either the clip was badly mislabeled and nobody in the review process caught the error (nor in the broadcast itself since it took a full day to note it) or it was not an error at all. And since, from Fox’s history and its well-known bias, it is easy to believe that it was an intentional jab at Democrats and blacks, a more detailed explanation and disclaimer was at the very least appropriate.

Of course, the reason for the lack of a real apology here is pretty clear: Fox would have to admit to… well, to being Fox News. They would have to apologize directly to a Democrat, which would probably cause half the Fox News executive staff to suffer brain hemorrhages. They would have to publicly recognize that something they did was racially offensive, which would dredge up all sorts of equivalent behavior on their part. Or they would at least have had to touch peripherally on the matter that they were either intentionally racist and biased, or that they simply can’t tell black people apart. You can bet that on another network, someone–perhaps even the newscaster–would have quickly recognized that it wasn’t Jefferson, if not because Conyers is so well-known and recognizable, then because Jefferson would not have been anywhere near Alberto Gonzales. But, yet again, we have to remember: this is Fox News we’re talking about.

Update:Fox apparently–and quite surprisingly–realized that their first apology was completely unacceptable, and does it again–this time a lot more properly. They still don’t touch on the color issue, but they do make a big deal of the fact that they put Conyers in Jefferson’s place.

As a side note, YouTube has just made it a lot easier to embed their videos when viewed on a non-YouTube site. They added some Javascript goodies that allow for choosing related videos in a very Mac-Dock-like fashion, and at the end, an easy-to-use copy-the-url-or-embedded-code feature. Very nice. In the past, I had to click the “share” button, then change the URL from “share” to “watch,” and then grab the embedded code from there. This is much easier.

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  1. Tim Kane
    June 6th, 2007 at 18:57 | #1

    Your fourth item hit the nail on the head for me.

    This wasn’t a slip of the wrist or hitting the wrong button. The purposely constructed that video, the bastards.

    Nice looking arrian gal they throw up there to make the appology.

    My mind is really in what and how things have become.

    Not just openly Republican, but openly fascist, openly racist, and its on every cable network in the United States. Is this why people died in World War II for?

    I am waiting for them to call for replacing the stars on the flag with crosses. After that, all they will need is that little bend at the end to make things official. The Fascist States of America. You see, Mussolini did win after all.

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