By Tim Kenneally
It’s been said that there’s no such thing as bad publicity. Except, maybe, when your PR team uses iffy techniques to combat bad publicity.
In his new book “Murdoch’s World,” NPR media reporter David Folkenflik claims that Fox News Channel public relations staffers have used bogus commenter accounts to counter negative blog posts and comments about the network on the internet, Media Matters reports.
In the book, Folkenflik claims that Fox PR people would post “pro-Fox rants” in the comments sections of blog posts that were critical of the network, taking steps to make sure that the comments couldn’t be traced back to the network.
The practice was employed during the mid to late portion of the 2000s, the book claims.
According to the book, Fox News PR people would use aliases to post pro-Fox comments; Folkenflik writes that one former staffer claimed to have used 20 different aliases.
“On the blogs, the fight was particularly fierce. Fox PR staffers were expected to counter not just negative and even neutral blog postings but the anti-Fox comments beneath them,” Folkenflik writes in the book.
One method of covering the Fox News employees’ tracks was to use a cell-phone thumb drive so that a wireless broadband connection could be set up, the book claims. On the other end of the technological spectrum, one employed an AOL dial-up connection, believing that it would be more difficult to trace.
A spokeswoman for Fox News has not yet responded to TheWrap’s request for comment.