Fox40 Covers Sarah Palin at Cal State, Forgets ‘All Mics are Hot’ Rule


If there’s a theme that ties this week’s events together, it’s to assume that all mics are hot, all emails risk becoming public, and all information captured by journalists no matter how off the record will eventually escape. David Brooks of the New York Times calls it “the Culture of Exposure,” dating it back to the 1960s and media coverage of the Vietnam War. (Which seems fair, as his employer leaking the Pentagon Papers was an early example of the Culture of Exposure as it was just taking off.)

Dave Weigel loses his plush gig at the Washington Post after being outed using the infamous Journolist for what everybody feared it was being used for: driving narratives and punishing conservatives. General McChrystal got caught believing that Rolling Stone (insert obligatory exclamation mark ! here) would keep his secrets safe and his staff off the record. And last night, Sacramento’s Fox40 affiliate forgot last night that all mics are potentially hot, and got caught running comments from either their crew or the college crew taping Sarah Palin’s appearance at California State University at Stanislaus, about 90 miles south of Sacramento, bashing her after her speech.

Sister Toldjah (found via Dan Riehl) has a transcript of some of the quotes that went out over the air, and onto plenty of TiVos:

Just got done watching the speech Sarah Palin gave at California State University, Stanislaus — the one that generated so much controversy from “concerned” students to the point they were digging in trash dumpsters looking for contract info.

Anyway, she gave a great speech as always (commentary/live Tweets are here) but at times the Fox40 live feed was hard to hear — they were having audio issues. But at the end of the speech is where it got interesting. Here’s what some of the audio/camera guys** were saying:

“The dumbness doesn’t just come from soundbites.”

“I can’t believe she quoted Kennedy — twice.

“How am I going to write about this-there’s nothing there-answer well there’s your story”

But who uttered these quotes? It depends on who you ask, Tammy Bruce writes:

The local station which live streamed the Palin speech has issued a complete statement regarding their review of the unprofessional and insulting comments made by technicians and others in the media room after the event. These remarks were picked up by Fox40’s live mic and live-streamed to the world. As you can tell by my original post, I’ve come to my conclusion about the source of those remarks. Fox40 has reviewed the same material and comes to a different conclusion. After the jump I’ve linked and posted their full statement.Bottom line — Fox40 insists it wasn’t them. None of the reporters, technicians or anyone else in that media room were associated with Fox40. There is no apology and they do not identify those making the comments.

As I noted in my previous post, is it possible university techies were manning that camera, yes. But come to your own conclusion about to whom that techie was apologizing regarding the Fox40 feed going down. Again, is it possible it was a random reporter not associated with Fox40? I suppose it is, unlikely, but possible. I believe Fox40 believe it wasn’t them. What I hear and see tells me otherwise.

So, come to your own conclusion. Although there will be no apology I think an important message has been sent to all parties — there are no more Free Shots at Sarah Palin. Not any more. And I think it’s also fair to say that this will be the last hot mic Fox40 ever allows.

Tammy has the video of the full speech, and there’s a cleaner high-res version at the McClatchy-owned Merced Sun-Star Website. Tammy also has a separate clip of the audio of the extracurricular comments that made the rounds on Twitter last night:

At Hot Air, Ed Morrissey adds:

The Sun-Star also reported that around a hundred protesters turned out for the speech, chanting slogans and carrying signs calling Palin “Sinister Sarah.” If that’s as good as CSU Stanislaus’ lefties can manage, things have gone downhill since my days in the CSU system almost 30 years ago in Fullerton. The mainstream media reporters covering the event couldn’t do much better, as Breitbart TV caught when the live feed continued after the speech and picked up the comments of the press corps.

If these were opinion journalists, these comments would be no problem. If they’re news reporters expected to render an objective, fact-based report on the event, I’d say that they have a bright future at MSNBC.

Not to mention the Washington Post.

And in case anybody’s wondering, local Fox affiliates have nothing to do with Fox News and its middle America-friendly tone, other than having the option of using them as a news feed if there’s a big breaking national story. Remember Dallas journalist Rebecca Aguilar badgering an old man who had legally defended his property with a shotgun? She was with KDFW, a local Fox affiliate, as we discussed in this early edition of our Silicon Graffiti video blog from April of 2008:

Finally, a quick tip to those want a permanent record of Fox’s hot mics last night: Download Helper and similar programs and applets are your friend, as these sorts of videos have a tendency to disappear fairly quickly on YouTube.

Trust me on this.

Related: Maggie’s Farm asks, “Journalist or Kindergarten Ethics?”, and a commenter below reminds us of another recent open mic meltdown across the pond, when Gordon Brown’s now infamous remarks helped cost him his job as prime minister in early May.

Update: Salon’s Joan Walsh is apparently pretty cool with journalists anonymously blurting comments into hot mics, as long as they’re attacking from left to right.

(Originally posted at Ed Driscoll.com.)


Tags assigned to this article:
Dave WeigelFox 40Sarah PalinStanley McChrystal

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