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March 24, 2010
4:05 PM

CONTACT: Media Matters for America

Jess Levin (202) 772-8162

How Tolerant Is Fox's 'Zero Tolerance' Policy?

Media Matters sends fourth letter to Fox News' Clemente about glaring on-air error

WASHINGTON - March 24 - Today, after Fox News' legal analyst Andrew Napolitano falsely claimed that Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT) "changed his vote to 'Yes'" on health care reform legislation after President Obama appointed his brother to the federal appeals court -- Matheson, in fact, voted 'No' on both the Senate bill and the reconciliation package -- Media Matters for America's Ari Rabin-Havt issued an open letter to Fox News Senior Vice President Michael Clemente asking how this error would be handled in light of the network's "zero tolerance" policy. Rabin-Havt has sent Clemente three previous letters regarding other glaring errors.

The letter reads:

Dear Mr. Clemente:

Again, I write to you concerning a glaring error on your network.

On yesterday's edition of Fox & Friends, Fox News legal analyst Andrew Napolitano advanced the false smear that President Obama bribed Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT) by appointing his brother to the federal appeals court [emphasis added]:

Congressman Matheson, a Democrat of Utah, voted "No" first time around. The White House nominated Congressman Matheson's brother to the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th circuit. He changed his vote to "Yes."


So, there's a point to beyond which you can't go. It is a crime to offer someone something of value in order to influence their vote or their official governmental behavior.

Not only have these allegations been debunked by Rep. Matheson, the White House, Sen. Robert Bennett (R-UT), and the Bush-appointed former judge who previously occupied the seat, but Rep. Matheson did not "change his vote to 'Yes.' " Rep. Matheson voted "No" on the House's health reform bill in November, and again voted "No" on both the Senate's health care bill and the reconciliation package last weekend.

As I did in my previous letters, I'll remind you that the quality control memo your network issued in November states that "mistakes by any member of the show team that end up on air may result in immediate disciplinary action against those who played significant roles in the 'mistake chain.' " But I'll also add that, unlike previous "mistakes" that only damaged your network's reputation, this one damages the reputation of an elected official. I can't think of a better time for you to implement the "zero tolerance" policy.


Ari Rabin-Havt

Vice President for Communications and Research

Media Matters for America


Media Matters for America is a Web-based, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media.

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