April 5, 2009

The Ambush Virus is spreading at Fox News. Earlier this week, producer Griff Jenkins ambushed history professor Alan Brinkley over the wording of a few lines in one of his textbooks:

Jenkins claimed that the network invited Brinkley onto the program, but Fox News has been known to lie about inviting its perceived enemies on air. ThinkProgress contacted Brinkley and it turns out Fox extended an invitation to him only after stalking and ambushing him:

A Fox News crew was waiting for me when I left my home yesterday, followed me for two blocks with questions and accusations, and then left. Later that day, I was asked to come onto the show, which I declined to do. I did e-mail the person who invited me with responses to the two mistaken charges they made when I was being followed by the camera crew.

After being stalked and ambushed, Brinkley did release a statement to Fox refuting Jenkins’ claims — and forcing Jenkins to halfheartedly admit he had been wrong about one of his charges.

The key part of Brinkley's statement reads:

One is that I claimed that only one person was tried and convicted in the war on terror. That’s not correct. I said that of the large group of Muslims rounded up immediately after 9/11, only one of them was tried and convicted. Other defendants were, of course, tried and convicted at later dates.

The problem, as The Bwog noted, is that Jenkins was waving about numbers from this year, while Brinkley's book was published in 2006 -- when, in fact, the statement that Jenkins finds so offensive was in fact accurate.

So the basis of Jenkins' charge against Brinkley was essentially bogus; if he had a beef with anyone, it might have been with the editors at the book's publishing house, who evidently have not been diligent enough in updating details of the book for its subsequent printings. Moreover, it's clear that Jenkins is misreading Brinkley, who carefully specified that he was talking about the people arrested immediately after 9/11, while Jenkins' figures refer to all the terrorism suspects rounded up since the terror attacks.

Now, having been shown for the screwup that he is, you'd think Jenkins would go into hiding and take his vicious little videotape with him. But there he was again this morning on Fox and Friends, proudly running the tape again, and declaiming:

Now guys, shortly after this encounter, the good provost did issue a statement. However, it was responding to something I didn't accuse him of. And he pointed out in one of his books, somewhere else in another chapter, he did mention 3,000 Americans were dead. Fact is, that there's bias in these books, and he misleads the reader.

The worst part of all this, as we noted when Bill O'Reilly sends out his minions on similar attack missions, is that this is a gross abrogation of basic ethical standards for journalists -- who typically resort to such stalking and ambushes for actual criminal actors or public-office miscreants -- not people whose words the journalist finds offensive.

Fox is using its ambush crews not to attack people they genuinely believe have broken the law or harmed the public's welfare, but merely people with whom they disagree.

That's a very, very dangerous development.

The Rude Pundit has some appropriately rude thoughts in response to Jenkins.

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