The Progressive Populist blog reported a story about Fox News Business Reporter Charlie Gasparino’s ugly Twitter war last Friday night. Charlie has been in these sorts of bullying wars before, so it came as no surprise. His war, however, was a clinical study in Fox News’ lack of journalistic ethics and high degree of hubris.
What was insightful about the Twitter conversation wasn’t just what Charlie said, but who he said it to. His war was with the editors and managers of some of the largest, oldest and most respected investment journals around.
The Progressive Populist post got all the details correct, but there was something very revealing in the first tweet that set off the war.
Gasparino got the initial reporting wrong. The Bond Buyer wasn’t shutting down and his tweet caused a bit of panic at the publication.
His use of “sad if true” is just another version of Fox’s now famous “Some people say”. Here’s several examples of the technique from the movie Oufoxed, which we featured as part of our Toxic Tea Film Festival.
While it may seem innocuous, the “Some people say” technique is an avoidance of sourcing. It’s bad journalism – or truthfully a complete lack of journalism. Often it’s used to express the Fox News Host’s own thoughts, wishes or views. The “some people say” may just as well be “Rupurt Murdoch says”, “Roger Ailes says” or “I wish I could say but I’m scared to be caught telling a lie on TV again”.
For Gasparino, being called out by fellow reporters was a cause to take the attacks to a personal level and he went in to full bully mode. Fifteen minutes after the initial tweet he posted a correction, but for a Fox Business reporter to post a false report to Twitter without checking it’s validity first is astounding. The ripple effect that kind of news could have on a company’s stock, for instance, could be monumentally damaging.
As Rob Blackwell, Washington Bureau Chief of American Banker tweeted, simply adding the “sad if true” caveat isn’t a license to be hyperbolic.
As the evening “war” on (pun intended), and more real journalists piped in, Gasparino attacked fellow financial reporters, editors and managers from The Bond Buyer, Barron’s, SourceMedia (the parent company of Bond Buyer) and others. He told one person “I can’t be the only person who called u fat dumb and bald?” while telling another that the man’s problem was he lived in Ohio.
Never did he once seem to grasp that the argument wasn’t about him personally, but about his lack of ethical reporting. Fox News employees never do seem to understand the difference.