Mountain Area Information Network

Asheville critics get under Fox News' skin

Reporter's Notebook by Wally Bowen:

Steve Brown
Steve Brown of Fox News does a live report from the Obama campaign rally Oct. 4 in Asheville, N.C. (Wally Bowen, 2008)

Shortly after the Obama rally in Asheville, N.C. on Sunday, a TV reporter walked past me in the roped-off press section on the Asheville High football field.

I recognized him as the reporter who earlier did a live, loud and annoying stand-up report while Obama was still speaking. A young woman within earshot picked up on Obama's "enough is enough" and shouted "that's enough from Fox News!"

As the reporter passed by, I piped up: "Are you with Fox News?" He stopped, looked me up and down, and said "Yes."

"Good luck with your career path," I said. I apparently touched a nerve.

"Why do you say that?" he shot back.

"Well, there's plenty of former Fox reporters who believe that their time there didn't do their careers much good," I said.

We both knew where this was going. "Listen, I don't know who you are, but let me tell you something. I've spent 10 years keeping it right down the middle, and I don't need people like you who don't know what they're talking about criticizing my work." As we say here in the mountains, he was getting his blood up.

I introduced myself, and handed him my card, explaining that the Mountain Area Information Network (MAIN) is part of the alternative media.

"And your name?" I asked. "Steve Brown," he replied. He looked at my card and then, pointing to the white press tent for national media, he said: "You go over and ask [a woman's name I didn't catch] about my work. She's Obama's national media coordinator. She's the gorgeous redhead over there in the tent," he said, stabbing the air past my head.

"The Obama campaign wouldn't be speaking to me if I wasn't fair in my reporting," he said.

"I'm glad to hear that," I replied. "That's all the more reason to wish you well with your career."

"No, you don't mean that," he shot back. "You're just trying to be a smart ass." Touche' Fox.

I actually felt empathy for Steve Brown at that moment, despite his annoying disruption of Obama's speech for those within earshot of his live report. His heartfelt defense of his reporting underscored how Fox News uses journalists like Steve Brown, who are genuinely trying to be "fair and balanced."

Fox News needs the Steve Browns of journalism in order to maintain access to public officials, all the while toeing the line of its neo-con masters (Roger Ailes, Bill Kristol, Rupert Murdoch, et al).

No doubt, Steve Brown is well-compensated for his service. It's a use-and-be-used world that's neither fair nor balanced for those well-intentioned reporters who find themselves in the incredible shrinking world of corporate journalism.

Do you take the job in Buffalo, or do a deal with Rupert for a national gig?  Tough call.  END