FOX fails to fact check "Communists for Kerry"

Will FOX News suffer any loss of credibility as a result of relying the assurance of the individual quoted below that his group was “not a parody group”?

Is FOX News in the habit of taking people at their word and not doing any background checks about the credibility or validity of the organization they claim to represent before airing a statement?

Should I call FOX News up, claiming to represent “Communists for Bush”, and see if they’ll put me on the air? 🙂

I look forward to seeing an on air apologia from Ms. Roh, and from FOX News, and a through raking of FOX News over the coals by the punditocracy.

Or maybe not…

Regards,

Thomas Leavitt

P.S. It appears that they’ve attached a disclaimer:


Editor’s Note:

In an version of this article that was published

earlier, the Communists for Kerry were portrayed as a

group that was supporting John Kerry for president.

FOXNews.com’s reporter asked the group’s representative

several times whether the group was legitimate and

supporting the Democratic candidate, and the spokesman

insisted that it was.

… apparently, this is what passes for “good journalistic practice” at FOX News. I suggest our readers take advantage of this the next time they run into a FOX News reporter. 🙂


Begin forwarded message:

From: Tim Finin finin@[deleted]

Date: October 2, 2004 7:58:51 PM EDT

To: Dave Farber dave@[deleted]

Subject: Communists for Kerry

Attached is a note I sent to FOXNews. I’m guessing they

assumed that people would see parts of their story on

reactions to the presidential debate as humor. Is it any wonder,

tho, that a study showed that people who get their news from Fox

News are less well informed than people who get their news

from other outlets, even the Jon Stewart’s Daily News comedy

show?

Today you published a story written by Jane Roh titled “Some

Voters Still Flip-Flop After Debate Saturday” [1]. The

story quoted a number of people on their reactions to the

first presidential debate. The story says:

“Of course, there were some Kerry supporters in attendance

who had no doubts whatever about their candidate.

“We’re trying to get Comrade Kerry elected and get that

capitalist enabler George Bush out of office,” said

17-year-old Komoselutes Rob of Communists for Kerry.

“Even though he, too, is a capitalist, he supports my

socialist values more than President Bush,” Rob said,

before assuring FOXNews.com that his organization was not

a parody group. When asked his thoughts on Washington’s

policy toward Communist holdout North Korea, Rob said:

“The North Koreans are my comrades to a point, and I’m

sure they support Comrade Kerry, too.”

It is unclear whether the Kerry campaign has welcomed the

Communists’ endorsement.”

I am disappointed that your reporter reports this at face

value. Putting “Communists for Kerry” into Google turns up

their web site [2] as the first result. It’s obviously a

satirical web site. Moreover, clicking on the “About Us”

navigation link produces a page which explains:

“Communists for Kerry” is a campaign of the Hellgate

Republican Club, a tax exempt non-partisan public advocacy

“527” organization that exists for the purpose of;

“Informing voters with satire and irony, how political

candidates make decisions based on the failed social

economic principles of socialism that punish the

individual by preventing them from becoming their dream

through proven ideas of entrepreneurship and freedom.”

Our members help elect candidates who support economic

growth through Entrepreneurship, limited government and

lower taxes. Communists For Kerry is separate and distinct

from the Communist party of America and any of its

organization. None of it’s members are members of any

communist organizations.

I’m afraid that this is just horrifically bad journalism.

Were Ms Roh and her editors so gullible that they thought it

was a serious organization? Or are they in the habit of not

doing minimal fact checking for a surprising part of her

story? Or are they in on the joke but wants to fool her

readers? Or do they think that all of your readers will

recognize that it’s obviously political theater and not be

fooled? Or is this intended to spread misinformation? Or

some combination of the above?

In any case, it deserves a clarification and rethinking

your policies. It is just not good journalism.

Tim Finin

743 Oella Ave

Oella MD 21043

[1] http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,134268,00.html

[2] http://communistsforkerry.com/

[3] http://www.hellgate.org/disclaimer/