Like any good story, there are two versions why Fox News Channel was largely absent from veteran producer Linda Ellerbee’s recent documentary about 24-hour news networks.
Ellerbee said she always wanted Fox News in Feeding the Beast, which aired recently on digi-net Trio. But Fox News didn’t see it that way.
Fox News insiders said all Ellerbee’s production company initially asked for was footage of Geraldo Rivera and his much maligned reporting gaffes in Iraq and Tora Bora, Afghanistan.
In August, Ellerbee called Fox News chief Roger Ailes, who said Fox would not participate. Then Fox’s lawyers warned that they’d sue if Ellerbee tried to get the footage elsewhere.
Come late November, Ellerbee asked to interview Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, or Brit Hume. "I have a huge hole where Fox ought to be," she said in an e-mail. "Fox is a great story, an important story. I’d like to see it represented in this documentary." She also reiterated her desire to buy footage, promising to divulge how it would be used.
Once again, Fox declined. "We were willing to work with them, but they never asked for anyone," says an insider. "They asked for Geraldo footage."
Ellerbee remembers things differently. "We had nice things to say about Fox," she says, maintaining that she asked for Fox’s participation. Ailes, she adds, told her Fox had nothing to gain from participating.
In the doc, she tells viewers Fox isn’t represented because "they indicated they didn’t believe we’d be fair and balanced," a jab at a Fox slogan.
Hardly, retorts a Fox staffer: "It was running on a network that, despite great marketing, gets less viewers than a test pattern."