03/13/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Fox Passed Off GOP Talking Points As Their Own Reporting

Critics of the Fox News Channel intimate all the time that they take their marching orders and construct their dizzy little metanarratives from concise memoranda from straight out of the Republican messaging machine. But if you were to accuse the network of doing so, they'd typically respond, "Zounds! You wound mine honor, good fellow, verily!" Or, they'd have chief flack-and-Sith Lady Irina Briganti cut you, with dirty knives. But Media Matters has caught the foxy newsies in flagrante delicto passing off a press release from the Senate Republican Communications Center as their own enterprise reporting.

The instance came on this afternoon's edition of Fox News' Happening Now, in a segment on the stimulus package that was preceded by the following introduction by host Jon Scott: "We thought we'd take a look back at the bill, how it was born, and how it grew, and grew, and grew." Note, please, the introduction of this segment with the active verb "we thought," as if what followed came out of some organic newsgathering process, founded by a genuine curiosity for how the stimulus package "grew and grew." As opposed to: "A press release from the Senate Republican Communications Center today highlights the escalating top line cost of the stimulus package," which would have been a less disingenuous way to introduce the segment.

But the real nimrod part of it all is that the Senate Republican Communications Center included a typographic error, which Fox didn't even change!

From the press release:

WALL STREET JOURNAL: "President-elect Barack Obama's economic team is crafting a stimulus package to send to Congress worth between $675 billion and $775 billion over two years, according to officials familiar with the package..." ("Stimulus Package Heads Toward $850 Billion," The Wall Street Journal, 12/19/09)

And the graphic from Fox:

So, in short, Fox News received a press release from a GOP outpost, and rather than reporting it out or applying even the teeniest bit of critical scrutiny, they cut-and-pasted the whole kit and kaboodle into a slideshow just as quickly as their tiny mouse-clicky hands could go, the end.