At this point there should not be a single person in this country shocked by the revelation that Fox News – run by longtime Republican strategist Roger Ailes – is simply a tool for conservative issues. Even the tag line “Fair and Balanced” is now delivered in a tone dripping with sarcasm.
So Joe Muto’s insider look at the network shouldn’t be met with hand-to-the-mouth shock, but is more likely elicit plenty of head-nodding and an “I-knew-it” smirk. That doesn’t, however, make An Atheist in the Foxhole any less enjoyable.
Muto was having a hard time getting a job in New York media right out of college until a friend recommended the still new at the time network run by Ailes and founded by tabloid king Rupert Murdoch. Despite disagreeing with the right-wing views the network pushed daily, Muto saw it as a stepping stone to another network, even half convincing himself he could make a change from the inside. He never did, but he did manage to stick around for eight-years, working his way up to serving as a producer on Bill O’Reilly’s massively successful TV show.
Muto famously – or at least famously in media circles – ultimately imploded his Fox career last year by offering to serve as a mole for the web site Gawker, spilling a hilarious behind the scenes look from inside the death star. His role as leaker lasted about a day and a half before he was caught. The book flips back between re-telling of getting found out by his bosses and sharing laugh-out loud looks inside the Fox newsroom from the O’Reilly/Sean Hannity ego clashes to the is-Palin-really-that- dumb revelations. He also helpfully includes a bulleted list of “Criteria for Being a Female On-Air Personality at Fox News Channel”. Not surprisingly “hotness” comes well before “journalistic credentials”.
Nothing Muto reveals in this book is the least bit shocking, but that does nothing to diminish the overall pleasure of reading it in print.
An Atheist in the Foxhole: A Liberal’s Eight-Year Odyssey Inside the Heart of the Right-Wing Media by Joe Muto/hardcover/336 pages/Dutton/2013