Boise, Idaho, USA
July 27
Texan, Okie, Navy Vet, TV News Anchor extraordinaire, Tourism prince for Idaho, Expert on everything, knowledgeable about nothing, retired and finally happy.


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DECEMBER 6, 2008 2:50PM

Why I'm Ashamed of My Media Background

Rate: 28 Flag

So there I was, sitting on the edge of my bed, trying to get my eyes open when the woman's words hit me like a slap in the face, or maybe a kick in the groin. It was the woman on TV. For reasons I can't explain, my tv was on the Fox News Channel. I swear I'll never let that happen again!

 Let me explain that I was a tv news reporter and anchorman for 32 years of my life. For most of those years I was proud of what I did for a living but I did a slow turn in the last few years and came to be ashamed of how we used our precious air time to trick people into thinking they had heard some "news" when they actually hadn't heard anything useful at all.  A few ten second sound-bites, sometimes taken completely out of context. Not nearly enough information to really have any meaning.

So anyway, back to this morning. A woman named Alisyn Camerota who I'm sure would tell you she is a journalist, was talking about yesterday's sentencing hearing for OJ Simpson. In her description of the incident at the Las Vegas hotel, she said these words, "They went in there with guns ablazing." 

What? My eyes were suddenly wide open! It was as if I'd been awake for hours. I was as alert as if I was back in the newsroom again and heard a voice on the police scanner saying, "Shots fired, we have people down, send ambulances!" 

But wait a minute. I've read, watched and listened to all this OJ coverage, just as millions of other people have, and I've never heard anything about guns "ablazing" in that room.  In fact, I watched the live coverage of the sentencing yesterday and I'm pretty sure the judge had never heard anyone suggest there were guns "ablaze" in that room. She even spoke at length about how lucky Mr. Simpson should feel because the gun, or guns that were in the room were never fired.

As soon as the shock of hearing Ms. Camerota's words began to loosen its grip on my brain, anger took its place. It filled me with such a vengance that I swear I would've thrown something at the TV if I had the money to replace it.

I fired up the laptop and went in search of a website or blog or something affiliated with this Fox & Friends program or Ms. Camerota.  I found a blog in her name and was pleased to see that there were people commenting about the stories being reported. I immediately posted this comment: " “THEY WENT IN THERE WITH GUNS A-BLAZIN…” !!!!!!! Are you kiding me? How can a person (Alison) who calls herself a reporter make it so freakin obvious that she has no clue what the facts of the story really are? APOLOGIZE FOR YOUR IGNORANCE. Nobody fired a gun in the Simpson incident, nobody has ever alleged that anybody fired a gun. Such ignorance is why people hate the media today."

Boy, that will get her attention and she'll be on the air offering an apology for her stupid remark, right? Nope. I did get a response. It says, "I’m sorry if I confused anyone. It’s just a figure of speech Ron. And “guns adrawn” isn’t common usage."

Oh my goodness. This is much more serious that I thought. She didn't just make an innocent mistake. She is really stupid and said what she said on purpose. Never mind that its a lie, it sounds really good!

Well, I had to respond to that, didn't I?  I posted this remark, "When a reporter states such an obvious lie as “they went in there with guns ablazin..” like Alisyn did this morning when talking about the Simpson case, does it make anybody wonder how many other stories she lies about?"

Again, Alisyn herself responded. "You’re awfully exercised about this Ron. Is there something in your past you’d like to share? Did this hit too close to home? (and I don’t literally mean you were “hit” close to your “house”)."

Now, I'm really frightened by the fact that this bimbo thinks my desire to hear the truth, instead of her sensationalized version of events, means there must be something dark and troublesome in my past!What is she suggesting with her inquiry, "Does this hit too close to home?"I have now been forced to live with that question in my mind all morning and I cannot figure out what she was thinking when she wrote that. Is it supposed to imply that perhaps I often run into hotel rooms with my guns "ablazing?" I don't understand. Now I fear I'm going to need professional help and its all because my damn tv was on Fox News Channel when I woke up.You can visit that blog,, at your own peril and you'll also see that I was also attacked by some of the Fox Fans for suggesting that Camerota should apologize for lying about what happened. They do not like it when someone suggests that truth is preferable to sensationalism. They don't like it at all. I firmly believe that the greatest threat facing our society today is not one that comes from beyond our borders, it is one that comes from our own media. I was attacked and insulted this morning because I asked for the truth. Thats frightening, and I'm really ashamed to say that I was ever a part of the news business.  .

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Jesus Christ on a pogo stick. What a pathetic excuse for a "professional reporter."

Then again, we all know that Fox isn't really in the news business, right? They're agitprop agents.

My prescription: Don't ever let your television go there again.
I agree...take a look at how Sesame Street and Lawrence Welk almost Killed Me.
I've rated this post. I think it's a worthy message. Salon is an odd place to make the point since they're well-known for sensationalistic headlines, but maybe that's good—maybe some headline writer here will take note.
I agree. No excuse for her Flair to misrepresent the Facts.
You should not be ashamed of your career because of a Fox News reporter. Broadcast news can be a wonderful medium when done well, and Fox News Channel does it horribly.
You know, being a responsible news anchor would be the perfect antidote to the Alyson Camerotas of the world. Because such a thing is possible. I should know....I'm a lawyer. for every bad one of us, there is a good one of us. Taken as a whole, we keep the world spinning on its axis just fine.
As Olbermann would say, it's not Fox News. It's Faux News. This goes on every day. We need to keep a watch -- Glenn Greenwald at Salon is focused on the media, and usually offers links where we complain.
FACTS…… Is that what you are supposed to use when you are reporting the news? Cause if that is the case, the producers at Fox News didn’t get the memo. Nor their ‘talking head’ anchorpersons that call themselves journalist!
The only show on Fox worthy of anyone's time is "House." One might wonder why you had your TV on 'that' channel the night before. That chick didn't lie -- she just went to the Sarah Palin School of Facts. I'm with Olberman.
Aw, Jesus effing Christ.

Chum, I spent decades in the job myself, much of it as a sort of crash-and-burn specialist, and I pretty much know all the spot news figures of speech. I've had arguments with editors about cruddy headline writing and sensationalism, and I've even sometimes got something wrong (my biggest nightmare) myself. At which time I humbly apologized to all concerned. That's what responsible journos do.

Guns a-blazing means just what it says: The discharge of weapons. It's not a figure of speech for "barging in someplace with a gun". There is no defence for this kind of reportage. It was done deliberately and with forethought. I wouldn't waste my time on Fox twaddle. But it's typical of a certain kind of organization to, when it's criticized, attack instead.

VR? Agitprop indeed. How amusant and ironic that Fox, such a bastion of right-wing lunacy, would copy (without attribution, of course) the Communists. I won't mention the other obvious parallel.
The woman isn't a journalist, she's a spokesmodel. Fox News uses them because they distract from messy details like truth. If you attack what they say, you're seen as attacking them, and the loyal Fox News audience will defend their maidens in distress.

Now that I think about it, it sounds like I'm talking about Palin.
Fox News spends more time boasting "fair and balanced" news than they do covering the news. It's like a circle jerk, usually smug...laughing and righteous! I watch for entertainment mostly...usually switching between Sponge Bob and Hannity.
I agree, it's regrettable that any so-called reporter or journalist, whether on Fox News or CNN or any news station or program feels that it's perfectly acceptable to simply make something up in the quest for more sensational reporting and higher ratings. And it is worse than unprofessional for Ms. Camerota to not only fail to issue any kind of retraction, make the necessary correction. But if sensationalism and higher ratings are her goals, then this makes a bit more sense. It also seems that fewer and fewer people, both within the broadcast media industry, and those whose comprise the market, the audience, care less and less about the truth.

Clearly the larger problem is that so many people just don't know when they're being subjected to sub-par reporting, which of course is partially the result of almost two decades of 30 second newsbites replacing real reporting.
I use Fox to torture my wife.

I get up at 6am. Before leaving the house I turn the TV to Fox and hide the remote. She calls me later after unsuccessfully looking for the remote. Sometimes I tell her where it is.
"Sponge Bob and Hannity" - That's brilliant! Doesn't Sean need a new Colmes to make himself appear well spoken? I suppose it will end up being "Hannity and Sponge Bob ".
I posted a comment over at Fox, too. If enough people object to this liar, she'll get canned.
Thank you all very much. Very encouraging! Thank you.
I think you are unrealistically applying the term "journalist" to Alisyn of Fox & Friends, and then using it as a cudgel to beat yourself. I just read through the entire comments on that blog relating to your post. The people who defend her, and she herself, are just the kind of back-fence gossipers that one might expect to find on Faux News.
The commentary posted by Alisyn and her defenders makes clear the point that this could not, by definition, been a news program of any form. Then again, anyone expecting to find news on Fox is likely to believe that Mad Magazine is the same as The Economist.
Don't give them another thought. Read "Conservatives Without Conscience" by John Dean if you really need a peek inside their pretty little heads over there at Fox.
Guns a-blazin can certainly be used as a figure of speech meaning coming in all agitated and yelling and such, without implying guns being fired.

BUT ONLY IF actual guns are not involved in any way! If the people actually HAVE guns - as OJ and his buddy did - then to say that they came in with guns a-blazin certainly DOES imply that those guns were being fired.
That's why I only trust The Onion for my "TV News" - at least IT is DELIBERATELY facetious. :P
If we could only harness the power of Ed Murrow & company spinning in their graves over the growing number of incidents like this, there would be no energy crisis.
I don't think that's how Fox nooze works. The more comments and derision she gets the more likely she'll be promoted!
I commented on her blog as well. Pathetic.
Oh, they make me sick. Anytime I need motivation for something, I watch Fox News to get my blood boiling. Her response to you is laughable. She's trying to hit you where it hurts...only it makes no sense in the context- she proved her stupidity and solidified your point.
My sincere thanks to those of you who have taken the time to post comments on Alisyn's blog at FoxNews. OK, we know it probably won't have any results but at least they'll know there are intelligent people out here and that some of us feel we deserve a little more that we get from our so-called "journalists" these days.
Hi Tournews1:

I tried to go to her site and comment too, but it didn't show up, so either she's closed the thread or she's moderating posts.

I read the previous comments in her thread, and they are hilarious. She's having problems with her blog because WordPress has changed the configuration. Someone sends her a link to a doc that summarizes the changes and how to work within the new systems, and she comments back asking if they could summarize it for her because she doesn't have time to read. Words just fail me.

So I wrote:

"But 'guns-a-blazing" definitively means that shots were fired. If no shots were fired , there can be no "guns-a-blazing". That's just it. And if shots had been fired, it would have been a whole different story. It's like reporting that a plane "landed in a ball of flames" when the plane landed perfectly safely. You can't just call it a figure of speech. I know you think that it doesn't matter, but it really does if you aspire to be anything other than a spokesmodel."

So, then, I kind of lost my temper a little when I was writing (which I never do, oh no, gawd, not me... :-) )

"So here we are. For all of you who have been watching Fox and their version of "the news" faithfully for the last eight years while Bush and co. destroyed the country, it's time to wake up. Enjoy your potato soup. Your kids will not be going to college. You have been LIED TO, consciously and across the board, on every important issue facing the country, to give you something to occupy your little minds while the folks behind this agenda enriched themselves and their friends and destroyed the country. They thank you for picking up the pieces for them. You got screwed, and you deserve it for being so stupid, intellectually lazy, and gullible."

I hope she runs the comment, but somehow I think she won't... ;-)

OK, so maybe I'm not helping. Face it: real journalism is largely dead because people don't want to think anymore. They are in shock, and they want big daddy to tell them what to do and think. But I think wwe are turning a corner. The blatant ripoff of the finance bailout got people's attention.
Great post. Words matter. Using phrases because they "sound better" rather than being accurate or precise is just plain ego, laziness, or ineptitude.
Why not just say:

"As OJ left the room, four men and a squirrel were left hopelessly dying in their own blood. And now for a word from our weatherman."

As you point out, not a lot of Salon bloggers watch Faux News and because of a stomach ailment, my Doctor forbids me from doing so, except on election night over the last two years.

Barack is a Muslim, he associates with the weathermen who cannot work on Faux news, he secretly is planning a socialist coup and his feet stink.

You have a point though. If MSNBC screws up, they get one million e-mails from some conservative 'think tank'. Can't we just put together some form letter or something?
Whitenoise, I'm hoping your comment shows up, and I think I'll hang out there for awhile just to rub their noses in some truth. All in good fun you understand.
"I firmly believe that the greatest threat facing our society today is not one that comes from beyond our borders, it is one that comes from our own media. "

Couldn't have said it better myself. The really scary part is that it doesn't just come from the two blatently partisan networks (Fox News on the right and MSNBC on the left) actually the worst offender of all is CNN whose motto should be 'Scaring the living shit out of you 24 hours a day, seven days a week'. Fear (and as a result sensationalism) is what these networks are built on.
Jake, I think there is some truth to your suggestion that fear has become a major ingredient in our daily dose of news. I believe the media started the trend long ago and political spin doctors picked up on it as a way to gain power over the people. :) Think about how many times over the years you've heard your local news anchors say such stupid shit as, "The cleaning materials under your kitchen sink may be slowly killing your children! A special report at 11."
George W's boys raised fear-mongering to a whole new level but the media had to play along for it to be so successful. Scary.
Our only defense is to write letters to the powers that be at our local stations and network hq. to let them know that we are tired of being fed fear mongering pap disguised as news. Write letters ie. on paper,with a pen - to be mailed via USPS. It's harder to ignore 50lbs of real mail than thousands of emails.
It won't hurt to write to our Reps and Senators too. A lot has gone wrong in this country because we expected our elected representatives and senators tor represent US. They haven't. Surely we can see that we have not been treated fairly. So part of the blame lies with us because we did not supervise. It's obviously not enough to just wait for election time and throw the bums out.