Mediaite has obtained an email from Fox News Vice President of News and Washington managing editor Bill Sammon to the staff of the D.C. bureau, in the wake of an FNC producer caught pumping up the crowd during the 9/12 tea party broadcast.
The email, with the subject line “standards,” addresses the controversy head-on: “We do not cheerlead for one cause or another,” writes Sammon. Full email after the jump:
Sammon uses the incident to drive home the need to be objective:
We do not rile up a crowd. If a crowd happens to be boisterous when we show it on TV, so be it. If it happens to be quiet, that’s fine, too. It’s not our job to affect the crowd’s behavior one way or the other. Again, we’re journalists, not participants — and certainly not performers.
It’s not like the crowd needed to be riled up – every time reporter Griff Jenkins (whose focus is features – and ambushing – and not news) mentioned Glenn Beck there were loud cheers. And as TVNewser writes today, the practice is “fairly common.”
But in the wake of this controversial ad, which attacked their competitors for their poor coverage of the protest, the appearance of tampering with the crowd’s mood had to be addressed by Fox News.
Here’s the full email:
From: Sammon, Bill
Sent: Monday, September 21, 2009 2:25 PM
To: 005 -Washington
For those of us who have only been at Fox for a relatively short period of time, it’s useful to remind ourselves that, as journalists, we must always be careful to cover the story without becoming part of the story. At news events, we’re supposed to function as dispassionate observers, not active participants. We are there to chronicle the news, not create it.
That means we ask questions in a fair, impartial manner. When approaching interviewees, we identify ourselves, by both name and news organization, up front. We seek out a variety of voices and views. We take note of the scene in order to bring color and context to our viewers.
We do not cheerlead for one cause or another. We do not rile up a crowd. If a crowd happens to be boisterous when we show it on TV, so be it. If it happens to be quiet, that’s fine, too. It’s not our job to affect the crowd’s behavior one way or the other. Again, we’re journalists, not participants — and certainly not performers.
Indeed, any effort to affect the crowd’s behavior only serves to undermine our legitimate journalistic role as detached eyewitnesses. Remember, our viewers are counting on us to be honest brokers when it comes to reporting — not altering –the important events of the day. That is nothing less than a sacred trust. We must always take pains to preserve that trust.
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