Former Fox News associate producer Joe Muto told Howard Kurtz on Sunday that he tried to leave the network many times during the course of his eight-year stint at the network, but because he worked at Fox he was “blackballed” within the industry.
Muto, who was exposed shortly after he began posting scathing items on the website Gawker last week, appeared on CNN’s Reliable Sources where he was questioned by Kurtz, who seemed to be skeptical of Muto’s claim.
Kurtz: Joe, if you felt so uncomfortable with your situation at Fox News, why stay there and draw a paycheck for eight years?
Muto: No. I tried to leave many, many times. I sent out dozens and dozens of resumes. I think—CNN must have gotten 20 resumes from me, and the truth of the matter is, I was blackballed within the industry. That people—hiring managers see Fox News on your resume and they say, “This guy’s a conservative, this guy’s a nut, we don’t want him in our organization.” I was completely blackballed within the cable news industry after working at Fox News.
Yet according to TV Newser, there have been several former Fox News employees who have left the network in the last few years for jobs in the industry. They include David Rhodes, who is now president of CBS News; Maral Usefi, a producer at Fox and Friends who left for CNN where she is a senior producer; and Rick DiBella, the executive producer of Reliable Sources, to name just a few.
If CBS and CNN are hiring former Fox News staffers, it hardly seems likely that there is any blackballing taking place against Fox employees who want to change jobs.
Muto also accused the Fox Nation website of race baiting to help conservatives—a charge that Kurtz just wasn’t buying, based on Muto’s argument.
Muto: I’m not a disgruntled employee. I was very gruntled, I enjoyed a lot of my time at Fox News. I did get, like I said on the Gawker piece, increasingly fed up with some of the things, especially on the Fox Nation, which I think is a vile, race-baiting site that should not be associated with Fox News channel.
Kurtz: Alright, that’s a serious charge: race-baiting. But mostly you seem to point to what commenters say, some of it racist. But every news organization has a problem with commenters who post crude, vile, racist, or libelous material.
Muto: The way the Fox Nation site works is they deliberately stir up these commenters. They take stories—they aggregate stories—which a lot of people do—Huffington Post, Drudge Report—
Kurtz: And it’s an opinion site.
Muto: It is very closely associated with FoxNews.com, don’t pretend it’s a separate site. It is a Fox News owned and operated site. It’s operated, you know, from within the building. It’s very close collaboration with everything at FoxNews.com and with the network. It’s sort of like the redheaded stepchild. They don’t mention it a lot on air but it’s there and it does exist as a race-baiting site to sort of rile up conservatives and get them talking about these issues. Look at any thread that mentions Michelle Obama or any racial crime and the comments on there are completely vile and disgusting. It should not be associated with the Fox News channel, with anyone calling themselves the Fox News channel.
Kurtz: Again, I would say that lots of news organizations have a problem with the tenor of commenters.
Muto: Lots of news organizations don’t solicit those comments. The Fox Nation is soliciting those comments to the point where they put the number one commented article, you know, gets bumped to the top. And of course, the racial ones and stories of that nature are the ones that always get bumped to the top.
Playing the race card may have worked with some in the mainstream media, who love nothing more than to accuse conservatives of racism, but Kurtz thought Muto’s charge lacked merit, which it does.
All the networks solicit comments by just having a comments section on their website. They don’t have to specifically invite or solicit anyone to comment, it just happens. And while the networks generally want their viewers and readers to interact on their sites, they run the risk of inappropriate comments that their filters or moderators don’t catch. This isn’t unique to Fox Nation, as Muto wants the public to believe.
I doubt that blackballing had anything to do with Muto’s inability to find another job. After all, he spent eight years working for the top rated cable news show on the top rated cable news network. That should have made him a hot commodity with the other networks.
There is more to this story than Muto is revealing at this time. But if he really needs a job, he should apply to Media Matters, where they have been trying to bring Fox News down—without any luck.