I Spent Eight Years As a Liberal Working for Fox News
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Joe Muto was just a young liberal guy who haphazardly fell into a career at Fox News. Eight years later, he departed in dramatic fashion after becoming, for a brief moment, Gawker.com's anonymous “Liberal Fox Mole.”
A couple of misdemeanor charges later, Muto wrote a book about his experiences working for Bill O'Reilly. An Atheist in the FOXhole: A Liberal's Eight-Year Odyssey Inside the Heart of the Right-Wing Media is an entertaining insider's account of what it's like behind the scenes at a Republican advocacy organization that also happens to be the top-rated cable news station in the United States. We caught up with Muto by phone last week.
Joshua Holland: Joe, you didn't end up at Fox as part of some ideological crusade. How did a liberal end up working in the heart of darkness?
Joe Muto: That would have been an even more amazing story if I had started there and stayed there for eight years with the intent of doing this the whole time.
It was weird. I finished college and I was aimless as, I’m guessing, many exiting college seniors are. I just knew I wanted to be in New York. I wanted to do something in media and I sent out a flurry of resumes. My undistinguished GPA in an undistinguished major got me zero responses except for Fox News.
I was nervous about taking a job with them. I didn’t know if I would show up and they’d make me swear allegiance to a photo of Ronald Reagan in an occult ceremony or something like that. I had no idea what to expect but I actually had a buddy who had done an internship for them. He’s like, “Yes, it’s normal, whatever. Who cares?”
I thought, I’ll give it a few months and see what happens. If I can’t stand the place, I’ll bug out and get a job somewhere else, but it seems it’s a good way to start a career and to start in New York City—to get a foothold.
JH: After eight years, you figured you’d be happier working at Gawker, which many of us would be … so you became the Fox mole.
I wouldn’t say you were like James Bond in covering up your tracks. How did Fox figure out it was you after about 10 minutes?
JM: (Laughs) Ten minutes is being a little generous. It was about three minutes. It was not the stuff I was writing. The stuff I was writing, I was covering my tracks enough that it didn’t lead straight to me, but it was the video clips. Those stupid, inconsequential video clips. I had one clip of Newt Gingrich getting his hair done by his wife. I had another clip of Mitt Romney talking about his love for his dressage horses.
With those two clips, they were able to trace to me. They didn’t know—they didn’t have me completely there. They were like, We don’t know that you took these clips, but we can tell that you’re one of the only people in the company who looked at both of them.
JH: You faced a couple of charges for this. John Cook over at Gawker says that prosecuting you was an outrageous abuse of power. Your view?
JM: An outrageous abuse of power... I'm of a mixed mind about it. I had to plead to a couple of misdemeanor charges and I’m doing community service. They gave me 10 days of community service and 200 additional hours. The other people are all in there for drug charges, DUIs. One guy smashed a bottle in another guy’s face. I have a major inferiority complex because they were talking about all these amazing stuff they’ve done and I’m like, Yes, I leaked a video of Newt Gingrich getting trimmed by his wife.