Update at bottom: Fox News apologizes for airing wrong footage
Fox News was barely done licking its wounds from last week's embarrassing revelations that it had used old footage to make a Tea Party protest look bigger than it was, and now the network stands accused of doing the same thing again.
During a Happening Now segment Wednesday, anchor Gregg Jarrett described "huge crowds" showing up to a Sarah Palin book tour event, and showed footage he described as "just coming in to us now" showing the former Alaska governor surrounded by adoring crowds.
But, as Faiz Shakir at ThinkProgress reported, the images the network ran "appeared to be old file footage of Palin rallies from the 2008 presidential campaign."
Media watchdog MediaMatters soon confirmed the report, displaying a screenshot of Fox's footage from Wednesday's broadcast with a nearly identical image from a Palin rally in Ocala, Florida, shortly before last year's election.
While critics of Fox News will surely jump on this as further evidence that the network acts as a promotion tool for Republican politicians, network execs immediately declared that the incident was an innocent mix-up.
"This was a production error in which the copy editor changed a script and didn't alert the control room to update the video,'' senior vice-president Michael Clemente told the Chicago Tribune's Swamp Politics blog. "There will be an on-air explanation during Happening Now on Thursday."
Media observers pointed out that despite Jarrett's claim that the footage was "just coming in to us now," the mix-up may well have been unintended.
"This appears to be little more than a momentary disconnect between newsreader and news producer than a conscious attempt to mislead," writes Jason Linkins at the Huffington Post. "Of course, the fact that Fox was caught manipulating footage in a misleading manner is only going to spur further suspicions when things like this happen."
Last week, Fox News anchor Sean Hannity apologized to viewers after Comedy Central's Daily Show slammed the network for using footage of a Sept. 12 Tea Party rally in Washington evidently to make a Nov. 5 anti-health reform rally look bigger.
"Although it pains me to say this, Jon Stewart, Comedy Central -- he was right," Hannity said.
At that Sept. 12 rally, Fox News was caught stage-managing a crowd, with an off-camera producer waving instructions to chanting protesters.
Swamp Politics reports that this latest incident could result in firings at the network. "It's highly like[ly] that serious disciplinary action will be taken for those responsible behind the scenes in the control room," the blog reports. "News executives there consider this to have been a sloppy and unnecessary error."
The following video was broadcast on Fox News Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2009, and upoaded to the Web by ThinkProgress.
In a 30-second statement, Fox News anchor Jane Skinner apologized Thursday for airing the wrong footage while teasing a segment about crowds outside a Sarah Palin book signing.
Yesterday we told you about Sarah Palin kicking off her book tour, and then we spoke to Sean Hannity about an interview he did former Governor Palin. When introducing this segment, we showed you footage of people lining up in Michigan for a book signing that evening. In the tease before the segment -- to tease to commercial, we told you how those people were already lining up to meet palin. The problem is we didn't show you the video that we were actually referencing. Instead, we mistakenly aired what's called file tape of Sarah Palin. We didn't mean to mislead anybody in that tease. It was a mistake, and for that, we apologize.
This video is from Fox News' Happening Now, broadcast Nov. 19, 2009.