I put Middle Earth Journal in hiatus in May of 2008 and moved to Newshoggers.
I temporarily reopened Middle Earth Journal when Newshoggers shut it's doors but I was invited to Participate at The Moderate Voice so Middle Earth Journal is once again in hiatus.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

A Peek Inside the Real Fox News

This was from yesterday, but it didn't get a lot of play in the blogosphere and seemed too good to pass up. You may already be familiar with Paul Begala. He's a well known liberal who has worked closely with various Democratic interests. Earlier this week, when stories of Hillary Clinton's imminent political demise were swirling about, a rumor surfaced that the Clinton campaign had hired Begala, and he would be leaving his current position with CNN. Nothing too surprising there, since rumors like this crop up all the time and, after all, Begala had been an advisor to Bill Clinton and is a long time friend of the family. Begala tells his own story of his day beyond the looking glass:
I've been dealing with the media and politics for 25 years, but I've never had a more surrealistic day than January 8. Several times that day Fox News reported that I was joining Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign. It was a big story - at least until the stunning election returns.

The only problem was, it wasn't true.

As Begala's phone began to ring off the hook and his e-mail box bulged to explosive loading, he noticed that Fox news was already running the story on television. A number of real reporters had already spoken to Paul, found out the story was false, thanked him and dropped it.

It seems that the source at Fox was an old friend and colleague of Begala's, one Major Garrett, so Paul figured that this little misunderstanding could be readily resolved. Allow me to post here the full text of a surreal series of e-mails that were exchanged between Begala and Garrett. Here's the first one.

From: Begala, Paul
To: Garrett, Major
Sent: Tue Jan 08 14:18:37 2008
Subject: N.H.D.
I know you're swamped, and I hate to bother you on such a busy news day, but whoever told you I am joining Hillary's campaign fed you some bum info. It's just not true. Or as I say to my boys, N.H.D. Not. Happening. Dude.

I'm not coming in as a volunteer, or as an adviser, or as a strategist or anything else. I have contributed to her campaign, and am convinced she would be a great President. But I am not joining the campaign in any form or fashion.

Again, I know how busy you are, but I'd sure appreciate you checking with me before you go with a story about me. This email is always a good way to reach me. Thanks a lot.

All best,

Paul Begala

Ok. That seems pretty straight forward, right? I mean, if you're a journalist and you get this sort of message from the subject of your story, then the affair has just come to a close. Oddly enough, the story continued to air on Fox and Begala received this message back from Garrett.
From: Garrett, Major
Sent: Tuesday, January 08, 2008 2:31 PM
To: Begala, Paul
Subject: Re: N.H.D.


I genuinely appreciate the e-mail.

I will take it under advisement.

And I look forward to discussing all aspects of the campaign with you in the future.

All best,


Major Garrett, Congressional Correspondent, Fox News

Take it under advisement? What exactly is there to take under advisement? Your story just fell apart. Paul then turned the news back on and saw that Fox was now "updating" the story talking about a conference call he had supposedly been on with the Hillary campaign. One can only imagine Begala's state of mind, wondering if somebody had slipped some hallucinogenic substance in his morning coffee, as he composed his next response to Garrett.
Just heard you say I was on a conference call with Hillary's campaign yesterday. That's not true. I was not on any conference call with Hillary's campaign - and have had no contact with her campaign for months. No one from her campaign has contacted me -- nor have I contacted them -- and I am not joining in any capacity, paid or unpaid, official or unofficial. I feel like that old Lorrie Morgan song, "What part of 'no' don't you understand?"

I have a lot of respect for you, and I like you, but I've got to ask you again to check with me before you go with a story about me. Someone is misleading you, and it is not me.

Again, I know the challenges of 24-hour news, and this is a crazy environment, but you can almost always reach me at this email address.

All best,


Ok. At this point it most certainly has to sink in that there's something wrong with the story. Hey... mistakes happen. Good thing this one was so easy to clear up. But wait! Over at Fox, Garrett responds with another classic e-mail.
You know me well enough to know I am not trying to screw you.

You also know, or should know, that I'm careful and don't have a reputation for pulling stories out of my ass.

I'm not now. The sourcing is strong, very strong, or I wouldn't go with it.

I appreciate your e-mails and I redouble my efforts with each one I receive.Please feel free to call me at any hour of any day.



Major Garrett, Congressional Correspondent, Fox News

Oh. My. God. The sourcing is very strong? The story is about Paul Begala. You are contacted by.... Paul Begala telling you the story is bogus. What sort of strong sourcing can you possibly have?

The story continued to run for most of the day before finally disappearing. Welcome to Fox News.