Clean Up on Aisle Gawker!

A lot has been written about the J.K. Trotter/Shep Smith story since FNC came out to rubbish it with the overwhelming majority of stories rightfully blasting Gawker on its now abundantly clear flawed timeline. But is that the end of this? Possibly not. And for a reason why you should read Erik Wemple’s story on the subject…

The picnic incident in Trotter’s story was a juicy and tell-tale moment — if only it had been true. Now that it has been debunked, doesn’t the rest of the story sort of collapse around it? No, says Gawker Editor-in-Chief Max Read in a chat with the Erik Wemple Blog.

“He doesn’t have to be at the party flipping out,” says Read, who stresses that it’s the alleged reaction of Shine that matters. “It still operates within the realm of the story that [Trotter’s] piece is telling.”

Nor did Gawker’s source on the picnic tell Trotter that Shine was at the picnic. As Read tells it, Trotter learned of Shine’s reaction and “erroneously assumed that meant that Shine was physically present, which was not the case.”

Ouch. This admission really does make Trotter look bad in ways that FNC’s pushback couldn’t. Never assume anything and print it without noting it’s an assumption.

Gawker is diving back into the particulars, says Read, to get more certainty on the timeline: “My guess is that when our source is saying this came up in contract negotiations, he meant it as discussions about Shep’s show.” Last September, Fox News took away Smith’s 7 p.m. show, limiting him to his 3 p.m. slot, but at the same time it named him managing editor and chief news anchor, a move that Gawker termed a “demotion.” “We want to establish as accurately as possible the sequence of events, but we believe we’ve got it probably right,” says Read. “I don’t think it’s wrong.”

Ugh. More assumptions? And only now you want to “establish accurately as possible the sequence of events”? Uh…how about before you write the dang story? It just gets worse for Gawker and Trotter.

As a measure of the Gawker story’s troubles, consider that Media Matters for America, a clearinghouse for anti-Fox News stories, didn’t write up a summary on its Web site. “We looked into it. But because the sources were anonymous and there was no definitive proof, we wanted to see if Fox issued a statement. Once they did, it didn’t seem like there was enough to go on,” notes Jess Levin, spokeswoman for Media Matters.

Man…even Media Matters wouldn’t touch the story. What’s that tell you?

That all said, there is this factoid which as far as I can tell Wemple has been the only one to note…

That’s to say nothing of the techniques that Fox News visits on reporters. As NPR’s David Folkenflik exposed in his 2013 book “Murdoch’s World,” the network planted false information with a reporter, essentially baiting him to publish it. He did. Fox News then released a statement slamming the reporter’s credibility.

This is what makes some of us pause and start looking for the angles whenever FNC comes out denying a story or offers clarification to any story which paints it in a negative light. No other cable news network has ever gone to the lengths FNC has to sabotage the people who cover it. There is a documented past at work there. They have poisoned the well of credibility with their prior actions. This is why I can’t say with 100% certitude that FNC’s denials, while full throttled and apparently conclusive, are the last word in this story. History shows that hasn’t always been the case.


11 Responses to “Clean Up on Aisle Gawker!”

  1. fritz3 Says:

    “No other cable news network has ever gone to the lengths FNC has to sabotage the people who cover it. There is a documented past at work there.”

    ^^I don’t think FNC’s proclivity of leaking false stories to selected media; then slamming the media for printing/broadcasting the story; is all that relevant with Gawker. Gawker, like TMZ and Page Six, is a gossip site. They put out stories that turn out to be false all the time and don’t really care what people think. Mainstream newspapers and TV networks are different and at least try to protect their reputations by not putting out untruths. FNC’s tactics are much more damaging to them.

  2. Making chicken soup out of chicken ____.

  3. erich500 Says:

    Gawker is the possible victimized party here? Because their layers of fact checking and editorial scrutiny failed them? They were taken in? The New Yorker of the internet?


    Spud, you really look foolish on this one.

  4. Careful… you’ll summon the hounds of hell.

  5. Extremism in the deed of FOX-bashing is no vice.
    Moderation in a sense of decency is no virtue.

  6. erich500 Says:

    Speaking truth to power.

    Attica, Attica, Attica…

    Wrong references but it’s all I got.

    Seriously: the Gawker piece smeared Smith, Ailes and Shine, both professionally and personally. It made Ailes and Shine look like bigots who cared more about profits then their people. And it made Smith look like a coward unwilling to stand up to any principles.

    And all of it was based on anonymous sources.

    But Spud’s response is not to criticize Gawker for a poorly – at best – sourced piece but to suggest that Gawker is victim of a sting by Fox News. A suggestion based on no evidence.

    So, we have no documented evidence the original story was right and no evidence that some sort of sting occurred.

    Absurd. Just absurd.

    He’s sounds foolish here.

  7. harry1420 Says:

    fox is ran just like a political campaign. ailes wasnt a repub strategist for nothing and that is how he runs his channel. he found out being a real news channel wouldnt draw people in so he found his niche and god bless us all.

  8. ^ see my FOX-Bashing comment above. Harry could care less about the topic to even make a connected pretense. Make no mistake, that’s why an outing smear rose as far as it did.

  9. But Spud’s response is not to criticize Gawker for a poorly – at best – sourced piece but to suggest that Gawker is victim of a sting by Fox News.


    Next time read what I wrote and comprehend its meaning before you reply Erich…

    I did not say, nor did I suggest, that Gawker is the victim of a sting by Fox News. Nor can you point to that anywhere in the article.

    All I said was FNC has a history that makes you automatically question the veracity of what they say and do.

    They have sabotaged writers. They have undercut others. They have planted fake stories with writers to sucker them into writing about it.

    None of these things can be disputed. They are all documented points of fact. I have experienced some of them first hand. I have been witness to others which were later confirmed to me by the victims themselves. I know of what I speak here.

    FNC is entirely to blame for their credibility gap. They set the tone. They went where no other cable news media relations outlet has gone in terms of sabotaging the people who cover them.

    Does Gawker get a pass because of all that? Hell No! Trotter screwed up bad. And they poisoned the well in the process. If there was even the slightest shred of truth to the story, it doesn’t matter now because nobody would believe it thanks to the way Gawker bungled the story.

    But that doesn’t mean I accept everything FNC has to say at face value. Not when they have the record they have with the media writers.

    Remember this Erich and remember it well. If FNC had never sabotaged anyone in the first place, there would be absolutely no reason to think they ever could. That they have…and have repeatedly…you have to leave the door open to the possibility, even if it’s 1 chance out of 1,000, because history is telling you things you just can’t ignore.

  10. therefore ladies and gentleman of the jury, let my prejudices serve as a guide for you, and throw the book at him as the door to the possibility he is guilty is always open… to something, if if not the charge.

  11. Sigh…

    Fact #1: FBN sabotaged Brian Stelter by feeding six outlets with a story on FBN’s ratings before he could finish his story on FBN’s ratings.

    Fact #2: FNC sabotaged Stelter again by leaking the O’Reilly/Olbermann truce story to the LA Times when it learned Stelter was working and close to publishing the same story.

    Fact #3: I caught FNC spamming ICN’s comments. They were using the blog to trash CNN, Keith Olbermann, TVNewser and others. Johnny Dollar is my witness to this and can vouch for my veracity because I made him aware of it after I caught them. Though this happened seven years ago and the old blog is long gone now that Blogger folded, I still have the evidence in the form of a 30 plus page Word document that chronicles who said what and has the IP address traces straight back to News Corp. and documents the smoking gun that shows their PR department was involved in some way. Documented with screengrabs of everything….something that took me hours of work to assemble. The only reason I didn’t go public with it at the time is Scott Jones over at FTVLive talked me out of it.

    Fact #4: They used to play ICN and TVNewser off one another. If Stelter was poking around for a story and they got wind of it, they would leak it to me.

    Fact #5: They have done similar things between TVNewser and Mediaite.

    If I have prejudices it’s because they are based on factual events that occurred. And these are just the ones I care to talk about now.

    And I wouldn’t characterize it as the possibility that they are guilty is always open. I would characterize it as I can’t take what they say as factual just because they say so.

    So Larry you can basically STFU now because you are out of your depth and clearly have no idea about what you are talking about. I do.

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