Friday, Aug. 23, 2002
Fox News Channel takes out ad condemning CNN for buying al-Qaida videotapes
NEW YORK (AP) - Escalating an already keen cable news competition, Fox News Channel took out a newspaper ad on Thursday criticizing CNN for changing its story on paying for al-Qaida videotapes.
``CNN ... Caught?'' said the full-page ad in Thursday's edition of The New York Times.
CNN initially said this week that it had not paid for a cache of videotapes that depict al-Qaida poison gas experiments, terror training and bomb-making. CNN later said it had paid dlrs 30,000 for the video, blaming an internal miscommunication for the false report.
The Fox News ad quoted newspaper accounts of the issue and concluded: ``Truth is important in journalism. America trusts us. That's why they choose us.''
TV news divisions are competitive, but it's unusual for one to so publicly point out a rival's failing. The two cable networks are in a bitter ratings war, with Fox surpassing CNN in viewership this year for the first time ever.
``We've been completely upfront and we're continuing to focus on breaking the next big story,'' CNN's Christa Robinson said, declining further comment on Fox's ad.
The tapes were a journalistic coup for CNN, which has been airing excerpts repeatedly this week. ABC and NBC have both done stories on the CNN tapes, and CBS rushed to the air its own stories based on similar tapes.
Fox News Channel hasn't done a story about the tapes because ``we don't see much newsworthy in it,'' said Kevin Magee, Fox's vice president of programming. Fox's Brit Hume has reported on the controversy about whether CNN paid for them, however.
``You've got to be careful when you start paying for things,'' Magee said. ``We are at war. This is the enemy. Where did the money go? I'm not sure `trust us' is good enough.''
CNN has refused to identify its source for the tapes but insists its money did not go to Osama bin Laden or his terrorist organization.
Fox is also miffed at CNN for running trade publication ads citing a recent study by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press in which Americans rated CNN the most believable TV news source. The ad declares ``America decided'' that CNN was the most trusted name in news, tweaking Fox's ``we report, you decide'' slogan.
Fox probably paid more than three times for its ad what CNN paid for the tapes. The Times said a full-page ad in its business section generally runs around dlrs 100,000.