In a segment on Fox News about the ethnicity of Santa Claus, Megyn Kelly says Santa “is just white,” just like Jesus. Viewers call her out for her ignorance at the very least, and her racism at the very most. She responds that she was “joking,” and that her critics are “race-baiting.”
Journalists sometimes report false information. They sometimes say indefensible things. There’s no excuse for it, but it happens. When it does, journalists admit fault and correct the record. They may even apologize if the situation warrants. To protect the integrity of the paper of station they work for, journalists may be fired or put on leave.
What journalists do not do, though, is excuse their reporting as “joking.” There is no place for “joking” in news. Journalists also do not criticize their readers for pointing out a journalist’s failures. If a journalist is wrong, she only has herself to blame.
Alec Baldwin lost his show on MSNBC this year after engaging in behavior unbecoming of a host of a news show. So did Martin Bashir. Lara Logan is on a leave of absence from 60 Minutes after producing a flawed report on Benghazi. Meanwhile, Bill O’Reilly assigns producers to harass his critics, John Stossel produces a highly questionable report alleging the homeless are scamming Americans, and Fox and Friends manufactures a fake social crisis each year by reporting on a nonexistent “War on Christmas.”
What does it take to get fired from Fox News?