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Fox News: still Fair and Balanced

[Via Dave Farber's IP list] Tim Finin sent the following self-explanatory note, which I quote in its entirety [slightly edited], to Fox News:

Today you published a story written by Jane Roh titled "Some Voters Still Flip-Flop After Debate Saturday" [1]. The story quoted a number of people on their reactions to the first presidential debate. The story says:

"Of course, there were some Kerry supporters in attendance who had no doubts whatever about their candidate.

"We're trying to get Comrade Kerry elected and get that capitalist enabler George Bush out of office," said 17-year-old Komoselutes Rob of Communists for Kerry.

"Even though he, too, is a capitalist, he supports my socialist values more than President Bush," Rob said, before assuring that his organization was not a parody group. When asked his thoughts on Washington's policy toward Communist holdout North Korea, Rob said: "The North Koreans are my comrades to a point, and I'm sure they support Comrade Kerry, too."

It is unclear whether the Kerry campaign has welcomed the Communists' endorsement."

I am disappointed that your reporter reports this at face value. Putting "Communists for Kerry" into Google turns up their web site [2] as the first result. It's obviously a satirical web site. Moreover, clicking on the "About Us" navigation link produces a page which explains:

"Communists for Kerry" is a campaign of the Hellgate Republican Club [3], a tax exempt non-partisan public advocacy "527" organization that exists for the purpose of;

"Informing voters with satire and irony, how political candidates make decisions based on the failed social economic principles of socialism that punish the individual by preventing them from becoming their dream through proven ideas of entrepreneurship and freedom."

Our members help elect candidates who support economic growth through Entrepreneurship, limited government and lower taxes. Communists For Kerry is separate and distinct from the Communist party of America and any of its organization. None of it's members are members of any communist organizations.

I'm afraid that this is just horrifically bad journalism. Were Ms Roh and her editors so gullible that they thought it was a serious organization? Or are they in the habit of not doing minimal fact checking for a surprising part of her story? Or are they in on the joke but wants to fool her readers? Or do they think that all of your readers will recognize that it's obviously political theater and not be fooled? Or is this intended to spread misinformation? Or some combination of the above?

In any case, it deserves a clarification and rethinking your policies. It is just not good journalism.

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