Fox News ponders ‘quality control’

FOX NEWS PONDERS ‘QUALITY CONTROL’…. Over the last few weeks, Fox News has suffered some embarrassments that left even the partisan network feeling ill at ease. An incident occurred when Fox News combined footage of events to make it seem as if more people attended a right-wing event on health care than showed up in reality.

Soon after, the same network did the same thing, showing a Palin audience from last year when reporting on a Palin event last week.

Chastened, Fox News management has issued a memo on “quality control,” making clear that these errors won’t be tolerated in the future. The memo argues that the network has to improve its performance “in terms of ensuring error-free broadcasts.” It added:

Effective immediately, there is zero tolerance for on-screen errors. Mistakes by any member of the show team that end up on air may result in immediate disciplinary action against those who played significant roles in the “mistake chain,” and those who supervise them. That may include warning letters to personnel files, suspensions, and other possible actions up to and including termination, and this will all obviously play a role in performance reviews.

So we now face a great opportunity to review and improve on our workflow and quality control efforts. To make the most of that opportunity, effective immediately, Newsroom is going to “zero base” our newscast production. That means we will start by going to air with only the most essential, basic, and manageable elements. To share a key quote from today’s meeting: “It is more important to get it right, than it is to get it on.” We may then build up again slowly as deadlines and workloads allow so that we can be sure we can quality check everything before it makes air, and we never having to explain, retract, qualify or apologize again. Please know that jobs are on the line here. I can not [sic] stress that enough.

This makes sense. Fox News’ “on-screen errors” have been ridiculous for years, from deceptive footage, to absurd on-screen text, to chyron mistakes (such as identifying former Rep. Mark Foley as “D-Fla.” at the height of his sex scandal).

As it happens, nearly all of these “on-screen errors” serve to benefit Republican goals and preconceived narratives. Must be a coincidence.

But now Fox News is going to address this. Good for them. At the risk of sounding picky, though, when might the network take a “zero-tolerance” approach to the accuracy of the rest of its broadcasts? “On-screen errors” have clearly been a problem, but it’s not as if the rest of on-air reporting has been accurate.