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I Spent Eight Years As a Liberal Working for Fox News

Joe Muto gives a behind-the-scenes account of life at the cable news station.

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In the end I just made stuff up and told people I was in a bar fight.

I do feel I maybe got a bit of a harsher penalty than would normally be warranted for someone like me who’s a first-time offender. At the same time, I did it. It’s not like I’m innocent. Maybe karmically, this is what I deserve.

JH: You got a book deal out of it. There’s always that.

JM: I did. Maybe I’m doing OK on balance. Not too shabby.

JH: Let’s talk about what it’s like working at Fox News. First, I was surprised that everyone in the building isn’t a true believer. I figured that many really believe that they’re fair and balanced and an antidote to the so-called liberal media, but it seems that a lot of your co-workers knew they were in a propaganda business?

JM: In my experience, nobody believed the spin—even the people who were conservative, like the producers who were totally conservative, hated the liberal media, all that stuff. Even they knew that our job was not to be, “fair and balanced.” They knew it. They knew why we were there.

We used to call it "stirring up the crazies." That’s what we said with our broadcasts, is that we wanted to stir up as much as outrage as possible because angry people watch more TV. We knew that was our job and we never pretended otherwise. No one ever bought into the official company line that we were really the only fair and balanced one because everyone else was so liberal. Nobody actually believed that.

JH: What’s it like from the perspective of being a worker at a right-wing company like that? I remember one of the Gawker posts you wrote, which was hilarious ... it was about their low-rent newsroom and the bathrooms being in this constant state of disrepair. What is that like, on a daily basis?

JM: Fox is known within the industry for being very stingy. They’re cheap. They don’t pay their employees that much. They pay their anchors pretty well. O’Reilly is making eight figures. Their lower-level employees get paid nothing. My starting salary was $12 an hour and I got a raise to $12.74 an hour after six months.

They’re cheap there. They don’t pay to upgrade the facilities. There’s bed bugs all over the newsroom. All the equipment is 10 years old which, when you’re in a high-tech, fast-paced field like cable news and your computer is crashing every five minutes, that‘s a problem, that's a huge problem. That’s one of the reasons actually why I was so confident that they wouldn’t be able to catch me with the video clips, because the online video clip system would crash on a weekly basis. It turns out they’re much better tracking me than they are at their day jobs.

JH: It’s a right-wing company. You figure security is a competent part of the organization.

As a liberal, were any of your co-workers ever on to you? I assume you had to cover up your views. Did anybody suspect?

JM: I kept my mouth shut about where my personal beliefs lay because everyone was paranoid there. There was a lot of paranoia in the newsrooms. People honestly believe, and I still half-believe it to this day, that the newsroom is bugged, that there were audio listening devices in the ceilings so that Ailes could figure out if there were any liberals in his newsroom, if anyone was talking bad about him in the newsroom, that kind of thing.

 
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