Network exposes identity

The Fox News Channel should change its slogan to “We report, we decide.”

Why, you ask? Fox is fair and balanced, you say.

This is simply not the case and the Northern Star doesn’t need any liberal media watchdogs to realize it.

On Aug. 7, a Fox News commentator, John Loftus, a former U.S. prosecutor, gave out the address of a California home and identified it as that of a Middle Eastern man who is said to have ties to the group responsible for the July 7 London bombings.

Unfortunately for Fox News, the home belonged to an Orange County couple, Randy and Ronnell Vorick, and their three children. As the Los Angeles Times reported, Fox News conceded its mistake. Good for them, but that doesn’t change what the Vorick’s have had to deal with since the broadcast.

The family has been victim to vandalism, harassment and verbal abuse from passersby. Vorick told the L.A. Times he now calls his family every 30 minutes to assure himself they’re safe.

While Fox apologized to the family, the network has yet to retract the information publicly save a one line statement to the L.A. Times, “John Loftus has been reprimanded for his careless error and we sincerely apologize to the family.” Loftus apologized by e-mail.

Apologies aside, this never should have happened. It doesn’t take a nuclear physicist to realize any network broadcasting personal addresses, even those of potential terrorists, is not too sharp. Loftus may as well have led a personal lynch mob to descend on the Voricks.

Why in the world would someone put the Vorick’s address out over a national television broadcast?

The answer may seem somewhat surprising. On Aug. 25 Washington Monthly magazine reported that Loftus’ reason for what he characterized as a “mistake” was, “I thought it might help police in that area now that we have positively identified a terrorist living in [Orange County].”

Perhaps Loftus doesn’t own a telephone and his only communication tool is live news programming in front of 20 million viewers, but if he has a phone then why didn’t he just call the police?

Ironically enough, in July, an indie rock band, Kids Against Combs, used Fox pundit Sean Hannity’s phone number in its album title. A call to the number showed it had been disconnected and changed to an “unpublished number.”

Apparently, Hannity doesn’t appreciate his personal contact information being disseminated either. In fact, Hannity threatened to sue the band and its record label, according to the arts and entertainment publication The Boston Phoenix.

If the Vorick’s share Hannity’s disdain for having their personal information broadcast, then Fox News might be facing some legal troubles of its own.

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