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Fox News Fires On Movie, Newspaper

July 13, 2004|Lynn Smith | Times Staff Writer

Fox News swung back Monday at the critical documentary "Outfoxed," as well as a New York Times Magazine article about the project. The film uses interviews with former employees and internal memos to paint the cable channel as favoring Republicans.

In statements distributed to reporters at a news conference held in New York to promote the film, Fox News accused the New York Times of cooperating with "illegal copyright infringement actions" and corrupting the "journalistic process."

The 80-minute film uses numerous clips from Fox newscasts and programs without permission.

Fox claims the New York Times gave the channel only one day to respond to the charges of bias made in "Outfoxed," and thus "took orders from a George Soros funded website," a reference to the liberal activist group, a financial partner in the film.

Fox was given a week to comment for an article in Monday's Los Angeles Times, but declined to do so.

"If any news organizations decide to make this an anti-Fox News story, then all of their material becomes fodder immediately for possible out of context and biased documentaries," the statement read. Fox also questioned the credentials of the former employees interviewed in the documentary, calling them "low level" or incompetent. Some sources, it said, never worked for Fox News Channel, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.

"Outfoxed" executive producer Robert Greenwald said there was no substance to Fox's rebuttal. "They're doing their standard technique, which is name-calling and bullying," he said. "Whether the [job] title was booker or staff booker in no way affects the fact that Fox is a partisan network. And what I've done in the film is objectively proven the case."

Toby Usnik, a spokesman for the New York Times, said, "We don't get into debates about our news coverage. If someone wants to tell us we made a factual error, we will examine the question closely. Otherwise our coverage speaks for itself."

"Outfoxed" will screen today in New York and will have an invitation-only premiere Monday in Los Angeles. Robert Zimmerman, a Fox News spokesman, didn't know whether anyone from the news organization had seen the film.

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