Pass along a news tip by clicking HERE.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Cincy Newspaper Wanted FOX News Approach: Quoted Channel's Slogan In Firing Reporter

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Fired Cincinnati Enquirer reporter Jim McNair received an official e-mail termination notice today that cited three trademarked words for his dismissal -- he wasn't "fair and balanced" in his journalistic endeavors. That slogan is claimed by FOX News Channel, which registered the phrase as a U.S. trademark in 1998. It was coined by Rupert Murdoch in the early 1990s to set his conservative broadcasting network apart from the rest of the nation's media, which he considered far too liberal.

Ohio Democrats have long viewed the Enquirer as hostile territory. Now they seem to have gotten some proof. They may want to start reading the online versions of papers in Toledo, Cleveland or Columbus for news that doesn't have to be "fair and balanced" a la FOX. Trustworthy and reliable would probably do the trick. Or accurate. Or let the chips fall where they will.

The use of the phrase, which has become a conservative touchstone, implies that McNair was too progressive, or didn't share the conservative traditions of the Enquirer -- a newspaper that supported Republican right winger Ken Blackwell during an unsuccessful run for governor in 2006. Fair and balanced is a high-profile combination of words, a phrase whose ownership FOX has battled Al Franken in the courts to legally protect. Was the use of the phrase calculated to portray McNair as occupying the left side of the ideological chasm, while the newspaper's bosses held down the right?

McNair, who received a disciplinary warning letter last May that he had "malicious intent and/or disdain for the community," was ousted Thurday from his job after six years on the Cincinnati daily's business desk. On Tuesday, he received an e-mail from the paper's vice president for human resources that used the FOX slogan as a reason for the dismissal.

". . . your employment is terminated based on a pattern of behavior . . . specifically, you had exhibited disrespect for your editors and colleagues and had a lack of understanding about the goals and mission of the Enquirer. In light of recent complaints, our confidence that you could improve in this regard -- to report in a fair and balanced manner -- was severely shaken."

It is not too far a jump to believe that McNair was terminated because the Enquirer wanted him to be a FOX clone.

McNair said he seldom covered politics, but did try to write about subjects that included polluting factories, builders who sold shoddily built homes, or pocketed downpayments and didn't deliver houses, and workers who were contaminated on the job by carcenogenic chemicals.

"These are the real victims here. They aren't going to have a paper here to champion their cause. Nobody outside the company has complained to me about a fair and balanced report. I didn't do politics. I can't be pigeon-holed that easily. You know, I didn't know about the (FOX) trademark, but I knew it was the FOX slogan. I didn't know the Enquirer was using it, too."

Editor and Publisher, a journalism trade publication has more on the firing today and quotes the newspaper's termination e-mail. But the story didn't pick up on the use of the FOX New Channel slogan.


  1. Seriously, Bill: If you think that the Enquirer is a conservative paper, you're not reading it either... :)

  2. Hi Matt --

    Yeah, I do think it is a conservative paper. It has like one local columnist on its editorial pages -- Peter Bronson. He's a real lib, right? He makes you look like Bob Fitrakis.

    I still read it. Suppose I will have to join you in not. Can you pass along the phone number to the Washingtom Times circulation department? Is it down to a choice between Moonies over dummies?

  3. Thank you, Bill for covering this. Jim was is of the best reporters, and he also tried to help get out important stories that weren't his beat, even in the face of total resistance by the Enquirer. People who know what kind of reporter and person he was are with him 100%.Jim, we care and we are pulling for you.

    The Enquirer is a disgrace. Cincinnatians who want to know what is happening with Cintas or Chiquita have to read it in blogs or out of town papers.

  4. Anon 8:14 pm --

    There is a long history of blown stories. The Kentucky bush crash, the Air Canada fire, the supper club blaze, Pete Rose, Marge Schott, Gillette's sale, the CG&E nuclear plant overruns, the county auditor scandal, the angel of death, BWC investments, adoptions, Home State and Marvin Warner . . .

    A long and stirling record of poor performance that is marvelled at far and wide among the journalistic and political world.

  5. Bill: "He makes you look like Bob Fitrakis."

    ME: That's a good one, Bill! :)

    Seriously, I've stopped reading the papers all together because you just can't trust them to play any story straight.

    And that's sad really...I remember being very interested in reading the daily paper when I was growing up.

    I don't think the Enquirer is a conservative paper...but I can see how mnay might think it isn't a liberal paper either. You might think that would make everyone happy... Generally speaking, the Enquirer is just a plain BAD paper...I get more information out of that uber-liberal Dayton Daily News than I do out of Cincinnati's rag...

  6. The Enquirer is not a far left or a far right paper. Its real problem is it just isn't a very good paper and they seem lazy in their coverage of local events. Regarding national or world events they seem to be a day or two behind papers in other major cities. The reason Bill and others refer to the Enquirer as a conservative newspaper is because it isn't far left like my hometown PD.