Since the beginning of October, Fox News and the Associated Press have incorrectly identified former Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL) as a Democrat while reporting on the scandal surrounding allegations that he engaged in sexually explicit electronic communications with underage former congressional pages. Other media outlets have identified as Democrats former Rep. Daniel Crane (R-IL), who was censured by Congress in 1983 for having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old female page, and Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-RI), during coverage of a poll showing Chafee trailing his Democratic challenger Sheldon Whitehouse by 11 points. Whitehouse was also misidentified as a Republican.
Most of these errors have since been corrected, though several news shows, including Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor, have not made an explicit on-air or in-print correction.
O’Reilly Factor executive producer David Tabacoff told Editor & Publisher on October 5 that the mislabeling was “an honest mistake.” The magazine also reported that Tabacoff said the show, in the magazine’s words, “didn’t feel it was necessary to run a specific on-air correction” the next day because ” ‘everyone knows’ Foley … is a Republican.”
Now if “everyone knows Foley… is a Republican,” why couldn’t the O’Reilly factor get it right. And you all wonder why I so often pull out my tinfoil hat.