David Folkenflik's new book on Rupert Murdoch is the gift that keeps on giving.
The latest, which the Washington Post's Erik Wemple flagged on Thursday, deals with the notorious PR department at Fox News. The network's press office has developed a fearsome reputation for bullying, blacklisting and dirty tricks. Folkenflik recounted one particularly bruising episode involving Matthew Flamm, a reporter for Crain's New York who was writing a story about CNN's ratings success in 2008.
According to Folkenflik, Flamm then received a hot tip from a producer at the network: Bill O'Reilly was going to anchor some of the channel's primary election coverage. Giving such a high-profile job to a highly opinionated man is a very big deal, and Flann jumped at the tip, only to find Fox News publicly laughing the story off when he published it.
From the book:
What the hell had happened? Flamm called the producer at Fox who had given him the errant tip. She was incredulous when he finally reached her. Who are you? she asked him coldly. I have no idea what you're talking about. Panicked, the reporter sent an email to the Hotmail account from which he had received the original scoop. It bounced back. The account had been shut down. As Flamm and his editors conceded to associates, they should have treated the email as a tip rather than a confirmation. A former Fox News staffer knowledgeable about the incident confirmed to me they had been set up.