Charlie Reina is mad as hell. And, yes, he’s not going to take it anymore.
The former producer, copy editor and writer for Fox News was angered when Chris Wallace, just hired to anchor Fox News Sunday, told The Washington Post that Fox’s “reporting is serious, thoughtful and evenhanded. . . . If they wanted someone to push a political agenda, they wouldn’t have hired me.”
Reina disagrees. He says bias is a big problem at Fox. Well, sort of a big problem, anyway. “There are probably more people there who tend to be conservative or Republican than I have encountered at other places,” he told Salon.com.
That’s hardly the condemnation Reina seems to think it is, especially since he later admits, “there are many people who work at Fox, as there are elsewhere, that are much more liberal and Democrat-leaning than management is.”
Still, let’s assume Reina is correct. Imagine: Conservatives in a newsroom. And of course, once you let them in, they’re going to slant news coverage to the right. Luckily, that doesn’t happen when liberals are in charge. “People in journalism tend to be liberal or Democrat,” Reina told Salon. But “I haven’t found that that had much of an effect on the news.” No, of course not.
So how is this coterie of conservative journalists getting its marching orders? Reina blames “The Memo,” a daily editorial note at Fox that explains where reporters are and what stories they’ll be covering. Reina says it also imparts advice. “The memo sort of gives you hints. If they [Fox executives] are worried that what we write or what the anchors say might make the wrong point, it will show up in the memo.”
Reina, who’s also worked for CBS, ABC and the Associated Press, says he’s never encountered anything like the Fox memo. Sadly, that’s not true. The memo most journalistic outlets take their cue from is called The New York Times.
The surest way to predict the top stories on any evening network newscast is to read the front page of the Times. Most journalists consider the paper fair and balanced, and they follow it almost religiously. A story just isn’t a story until it’s in the Times.
Reina goes a step farther than simply alleging bias, though. He says Fox has engaged in overtly partisan acts.
For example, when then-Senate minority leader Trent Lott was in hot water over some allegedly racist comments, Reina says he was surprised at the network’s coverage of the story. “It was clear that Fox, through the anchor, was anti-Trent Lott,” Reina told Salon. “So I went right to the memo, and sure enough the memo said we should make sure our viewers know that this wasn’t even the first time Lott has made such remarks.”