THE BLOG

Surprise! Fox News Ignores Page Six Extortion Story

Proving once again that the "News" in Fox News is not meant to be taken literally, the Rupert Murdoch-owned news channel has all but ignored the stunning story of the New York City gossip columnist who tried to extort nearly $250K out of a business mogul--a gossip columnist who happened to work for the Rupert Murdoch-owned New York Post.

The columnist, of course, is Jared Paul Stern, who was caught on tape instructing supermarket tycoon Ron Burkle that if he wanted to ensure better play in the Post's notoriously sharp-elbowed gossip column, Page Six, than Burkle could start by paying Stern $240,000 annually in sort of protection money. A high-profile FOB and Democratic stalwart, Burkle had personally complained to Murdoch that Page Six was printing fictitious items about him, which the paper was. Stern was simply offering Burkle a way to fix his p.r. problem. (The scribe now claims he was set up by Burkle.)

The juicy, jaw-dropping story that eviscerates any semblance of journalism ethics--even for gossip columnists--represents a big deal and has been covered by all the other cable news channels, the networks as well as major dailies. But not at Fox News. The story broke on Friday. It took Fox News more than 48 hours to mention the name "Jared Paul Stern" on the air, along with just single reference to "Page Six," according to TVEyes.com.

What makes Fox News' contorted silence all the more comical is that in recent years the channel has set itself up as something of a media watchdog, dedicating an overabundance of time and energy to covering journalism missteps...as long as the missteps didn't' come from within the Murdoch family. That's why Fox News treated the CBS Memogate scandal during the 2004 election as if it were the Apollo Moon Landing. Fact: In the three days following the release of the internal CBS investigation into the network's mishandling of memo story, Fox News anchors, pundits and guests mentioned "CBS" nearly 300 times. Yet in the three days following the news of the unprecedented extortion scandal at the Post, Fox remained dutifully, and embarrassingly, silent.