So Fox's E.D. Hill has backtracked from her attempt to smear Barack Obama's victory dap, after public protest, media ridicule and, most importantly, quick pushback from her bosses. Today the Times reports that Hill's attack on Obama drew "anger from the Fox News executive suite." Maybe she didn't get the memo. Hill was basically following Fox's old playbook of smearing Democrats with baseless questions and innuendo, but some Fox executives are following Rupert Murdoch's new tone.
The NewsCorp CEO recently praised Obama, predicted his victory, and announced that he was personally involved in the New York Post's endorsement of Obama in the primary. (Video below.) The swift public outrage at Hill's comments also probably helped -- commentators parodied Hill's nutty conspiracy theory, while Media Matters and MoveOn pressed Fox for an apology. MoveOn's Adam Green says alert media activists "are making clear that FOX's right-wing smears against Obama -- even amateur and embarrassing attempts like this one -- will have consequences."
Yet while the "terrorist fist jab" talk is so absurd it seemed destined for instant pop cultural ridicule, the smear still spread from Fox into mainstream debate, and then trickled down to news segments around the country. In Utah, an ABC News affiliate even took to the streets to investigate, in a segment called "Is Obama's 'fist bump' handshake a terrorist greeting?" After a round of interviews, the reporter concluded that "no one thought this was any sort of secret terrorist handshake." As Murdoch and MoveOn's goals overlap, though, maybe the next smear will be preempted instead of retracted.