When a biz reporter gets conned
Matthew Flamm, who covers the media industry for Crain’s New York Business, writes Thursday about what it was like in 2008 when Fox News duped him in an attempt to discredit his reporting.
The incident recently came to light in David Folkenflik‘s book, “Murdoch’s World: The Last of the Old Media Empires.”
Flamm writes,”For the rest of the week I tried to coax this ‘producer’ to speak to me. She refused, claiming she feared for her job. She gave me her name, which checked out, but worried about getting her fired, I didn’t call. However, I did call and email Ms. Briganti and her boss Brian Lewis, seeking confirmation. But never heard back.
“Yes, their silence should have rung a bell, but, to understate the case considerably, neither of them, in any of our previous dealings, had ever behaved like typical publicists. If they did call me back, it was rarely to comment or to give me some insight into their company’s perspective on an issue.
“More likely, it was to scare me off a story by hurling insults.
“At the end of the week, having only one source, my editor at the time and I decided to run a short item online and see if that would scare up a reply from Fox. We considered it a shot across their bow.
“Yes, that was pretty stupid. But we were late learners when it came to understanding the Web’s ability to amplify an error.
“The rest is miserable history. Within minutes of the item’s posting, Ms. Briganti emerged from her silence with comments to TVNewser about how ridiculous it was to even consider that Mr. O’Reilly would anchor a newscast. She then added that nothing I had written could ever be trusted. (My previous story on Fox, in 2006, had been about a ratings decline.)
“I sent an email to the ‘producer’ but it bounced back; her Hotmail account was dead. Yes, I finally picked up the phone and called her. Only to learn that she knew nothing about the emails ‘she’ had been sending.”
Read more here.