Yesterday, Fox News made an on-air presentation, documenting how the cost of the economic stimulus package has grown since September 2008. The package was set up as if it were enterprise reporting, but in reality, it was a straight recitation of a talking points memo that originated with the Senate Republican Communications Center. Media Matters was quick to spot this, and, in so doing, noticed an example of a factual error that came right off the page of the memo, into a graphic. And so, Fox got pantsed, pretty badly!
Today, Fox's Jon Scott addressed the matter, issuing the following two-thirds-assed apologia:
SCOTT: Yesterday on Happening Now we showed you how the stimulus bill has grown over time, our story prompted by a news release from the Senate Republican Communication Center. Their point: that a $56 billion dollar proposal in September has grown to $838 billion in five months. In compiling that story, our producers and researchers did what they always do, we verified the accuracy of the material. But in double-checking the newspaper quotes referenced in that news release, we made the same mistake they did: we labelled the Wall Street Journal article as having run in 2009, when in fact it was 2008. That was our error and we apologize.
Naturally, it's nice to see Fox News acknowledge that we are still three hundred and twelve days away from the printing of the December 19, 2009 edition of the Wall Street Journal, assuming that the downturn in print media allows for its existence on that date. But really, this is beside the point. Scott avers here that the story was "prompted by a news release from the Senate Republican Communication Center," as if this was something that had been previously disclosed. But in fact, viewers got this introduction:
"We thought we'd take a look back at the bill, how it was born, and how it grew, and grew, and grew."
See, that makes it sound like this story originated on "thought," like there were people in the Fox newsroom, straight-up cogitatin' on ways they could inform their viewers on the details of the stimulus package. In fact, the report came about as a result of an autonomic nerve response to receiving some Republican talking points.