Fox error hurts media

For those who followed the Presidential debate commentary, you might be familiar with Sen. John Kerry talking about his great nails and cuticles and how he’s a metrosexual.

Or are you?

According to Joshua Micah Marshall’s “Talking Points Memo” Web site (, published an article Oct. 1 in which Sen. Kerry was quoted as saying, “Didn’t my nails and cuticles look great? What a good debate!”, “Women should like me! I do manicures” and “I’m metrosexual – he’s a cowboy (in reference to President Bush).”

This article was written by Carl Cameron, who, according to Marshall, is referred to as Fox’s “chief political correspondent” by Fox spokesman Paul Schur. removed the article and published an apology later that day that reads: “Earlier Friday, posted an item purporting to contain quotations from Kerry. The item was based on a reporter’s partial script that had been written in jest and should not have been posted or broadcast. We regret the error, which occurred because of fatigue and bad judgment, not malice.”

How does an error occur because of fatigue and bad judgment?

Late Thursday night, the dialogue in the Fox newsroom must’ve gone something like this:

“Hey guys, it’s late, I’m tired and we have a hole on the front page of our Web site. What should we do?”

“Let’s just throw Carl’s article on there. I haven’t read it yet, but I’m sure it’s good. He’s our chief political correspondent.”

“Ok then, let’s get it done and go home.”

Keep in mind that this is Fox News we’re talking about, not a parody news site such as the Onion.

What I don’t understand is how this went from an in-the-newsroom joke, to being published on the front page of Fox News’ Web site. You can’t accidentally publish a news article online. There had to be a number of people, including reporters, editors, copy editors, online editors and Web designers, who saw this article before it was published.

If you’re an editor and one of your reporters submits an article in which the Democratic presidential nominee was quoted as calling himself a metrosexual during a political rally following the Presidential debate, wouldn’t you want to check that out?

It makes me wonder if there were any motives behind this news article. Was this just an honest mistake, or was it a feeble attempt by a supposed right-wing news organization to demean the Democratic presidential nominee?

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not bashing Fox News or any of its political affiliations. No, the people I have a problem with are those who let this one slip by. Just weeks after Dan Rather and CBS received so much highly publicized attention for a report based on false documents, this journalistic tragedy occurs.

In some ways these two occurrences are comparable, and in some ways not. They are both the result of someone not doing their job, or at least not doing an adequate job.

However, with the CBS mistake, something that was believed to be true was reported. In Fox News’ case, something that was never close to the truth was reported as fact. Cameron knew this information was false.

This doesn’t just make Fox News look bad – it makes the media look bad.

It doesn’t matter if you’re Republican, Democrat, Independent or any other political party, but a news organization should publish fact, not fiction.

I’m all for a good joke, but not one that misleads the public.