For the second time in just over a week, Fox News is coming under fire for misusing old news footage. The latest flap is leading some people to charge that the cable news network is intentionally misleading its audience, while Fox claims a “production error.”
Wednesday’s incident occurred when Fox News host Gregg Jarrett mentioned that a Sarah Palin appearance and book signing in Grand Rapids, Michigan had a massive turnout. As footage rolled of a smiling and waving Palin amidst a throng of fans, Jarrett noted that the former Republican vice-presidential candidate is “continuing to draw huge crowds while she’s promoting her brand-new book,” adding that the images being shown were “some of the pictures just coming in to us…. The lines earlier had formed this morning.”
However, the video used in the segment was from a 2008 McCain/Palin campaign rally. In response to the minor uproar that arose after clips of Jarrett’s report hit the Internet, Fox senior vice-president of news Michael Clemente issued an initial statement saying, “This was a production error in which the copy editor changed a script and didn’t alert the control room to update the video.”
On Thursday afternoon, Fox News issued an on-air apology delivered by host Jane Skinner:
Yesterday we told you about Sarah Palin kicking off her book tour and then we spoke to Sean Hannity about an interview that he did with former Governor Palin. When introducing the segment we showed you footage of people lining up in Michigan for a book signing that evening. In the tease before the segment, the tease to commercial, we told you how those people were already lining up to meet Palin. The problem is we didn’t show you the video we were actually referencing. Instead we mistakenly aired what’s called “file tape” of Sarah Palin. We didn’t mean to mislead anybody in that tease. It was a mistake, and for that we apologize.
The current mishap comes on the heels of a controversy sparked last week when footage from a conservative rally held over the summer was played on “Hannity” during a segment on a more recent rally. During the clip, host Sean Hannity marveled over the large turnout for a Washington, DC protest. The Daily Show later pointed out that there seemed to be some inconsistencies with the video shown on Hannity’s show, namely that the atmospheric conditions seemed to vary from shot to shot. Hannity later apologized on the air for what he called “an inadvertent mistake.”
Barely a week into Palin’s blitz to promote “Going Rogue,” media coverage is becoming its own story. Fox News rival MSNBC caught heat last week for using altered images of Sarah Palin on the air, for which they later apologized. On Wednesday, Yahoo! News reported Newsweek’s defense of their latest controversial cover, which Palin herself blasted as “sexist.”