Fox Gone Wild
April 7th, 2009
Maybe it comes from working in a culture where almost literally 'anything goes.' Where you can say and do the most outrageous crap and if it gets ratings, you're a star. (I mean, really, look at half the loons they have working for them. Seriously, Glenn Beck?) What am I talking about? A Fox News writer named Roger Friedman wrote a review of a movie not yet released. But he did not see “X-Men Origins,” due out in theaters in four weeks, on a DVD screener that the studio sent him. No, he downloaded the movie from the Internet. Someone apparently made off with an early edit of the incomplete film and posted it on file-sharing sites. Friedman got that copy and wrote a review based on it. But that's not the strangest thing. Friedman not only downloaded and reviewed the pirate version--he wrote that he did so right there in the article:
Yes, I’ve seen “X Men Origins: Wolverine.” It wasn’t at a screening, either. I found a work in progress print of it, 95 percent completed, on the internet last night. Let’s hope by now it’s gone. But the cat's out of the bag, as they say, and the genie is out of the bottle. There is no turning back. But no, I will not tell you the big twist/surprise toward the end. Not now, a whole month away from release. That wouldn't be nice. Right now, my “cousins” at 20th Century Fox are probably having apoplexy.I doubt anyone else has seen this film. But everyone can relax. I am, in fact, amazed about how great Wolverine turned out. It exceeds expectations at every turn. I was completely riveted to my desk chair in front of my computer.“He was no doubt slightly underestimating that level of apoplexy, and somewhat oblivious himself as to how they would react to someone within the corporate family bragging aloud about how they had downloaded the movie and reporting on a news web site how cool it was. Maybe this is in part because reporters do have some First Amendment leeway when it comes to reporting on illicitly gained material. Maybe he thought that he was covered by the same protections they had with the Pentagon Papers or something. But, and I am not completely certain of this, I do not think that a reporter can just simply out and out break the law and get away with it by reporting on it. Even if there are protections, there are also limits. Or maybe it has to do with the fact that downloading content from file-sharing sites is so ubiquitous nowadays that Friedman simply didn't think it was such a big deal. After all, if you report that you were driving 45 miles per hour in a 35 zone on an article about traffic, it's doubtful that the police will come to your door and write you a ticket. Downloading is seen by many as being the equivalent--technically illegal, but almost everybody does it. Or maybe Friedman was simply clueless. Wouldn't be a first with a Fox News ”journalist.“ But here's the strangest--or the most predictable--part of the whole affair. Friedman was fired and the story pulled--but only after 20th Century Fox caught wind of the article. Not when he handed the article to his editor. The question should be, of course, how did the story get posted in the first place? I mean, really, what the heck is wrong with the editor who was given that story and thought, ”hey, this guy is announcing that he did something illegal and is writing a review based on it--let's run with it!“ But that's the thing: it is as if Fox News doesn't have editors. In fact, Friedman may not have had one--I would not be surprised if many, or even all, of Fox's writers simply post directly to web. After all, what comes out of Fox is like the journalistic version of Tourette Syndrome. Again, just look at Glenn Beck. This is hardly the first time that crazy crap comes out in a Fox News article, and despite Fox firing Friedman, it most likely will not be the last. Nor is it the first time there would be implications beyond the simple 'reporting'--there have been many which are far more serious. The most recent: three police officers dead because some loon had watched Fox or its equivalent rant on about how Obama is gonna take away all our guns. It's equivalent to TV preachers going on about how abortion doctors are evil baby-killers and something must be done about it; that kind of talk will usually prompt some unstable person to 'take action.' Not that Fox will ratchet it down at all. I doubt that they care about the lives of police officers enough to admit a connection between what they do and effects like this in the real world.