October 3, 2004
Fabricated Kerry Posting Leads to Apology From Fox News
By ERIC LICHTBLAU
WASHINGTON, Oct. 2 - Plenty of news media analysts thought Senator John Kerry looked good at Thursday night's presidential debate, but Fox News went a step further, posting a made-up news article on its Web site that quoted Mr. Kerry as gloating about his fine manicure and his "metrosexual" appearance.
Fox News quickly retracted the article, saying in an editor's note on its Web site that the article "was written in jest and should not have been posted or broadcast.'' It said, "We regret the error, which occurred because of fatigue and bad judgment, not malice."
The article, posted on Friday on foxnews.com, was written by Carl Cameron, the chief political correspondent for Fox News, and included several bogus quotes from Mr. Kerry, supposedly assessing his performance in the debate.
"Didn't my nails and cuticles look great? What a good debate!" the article quoted Mr. Kerry, the Democratic candidate, as telling his supporters in Florida after the event.
"Women should like me! I do manicures," the story also quoted him as saying. It also had Mr. Kerry contrasting himself with President Bush: "I'm metrosexual - he's a cowboy."
Before the debate, several Fox News commentators remarked on the air about how Mr. Kerry had reportedly gotten a manicure that day.
Mr. Cameron has been reprimanded over the incident, said Paul Schur, a spokesman for the network. "This was a stupid mistake and a lapse in judgment, and Carl regrets it," Mr. Schur said.
He declined to say how Mr. Cameron had been reprimanded or whether action had been taken against others at Fox News who reviewed the article before it was posted. Mr. Cameron, who is well respected in news media circles, declined to discuss the incident when reached on Saturday. He is continuing to report from the campaign trail.
The gaffe comes at a time when journalistic errors and lapses both big and small have called into question the credibility of a number of major news organizations.
Less than two weeks ago, CBS News and Dan Rather - who is a frequent target of conservatives who accuse him of liberal bias - apologized for a "mistake in judgment" in relying on unsubstantiated documents for a report about President Bush's National Guard service.
On Saturday, it was Democrats who were chuckling over the incident at Fox News, a network that portrays itself as "fair and balanced" but is often accused by liberals of having a pro-Republican bias.
The Kerry campaign sought to turn the Fox retraction against Mr. Bush.
"Fox is doing the right thing by admitting its mistake and correcting the record," said Phil Singer, a spokesman for the Kerry campaign. "George Bush would be well served to heed the lesson and admit to his own mistakes."