Way back on Tuesday afternoon, the first appearance of “Fox mole” sent news and media junkies into spasms of glee. The instantly popular column appeared on Gawker, which described its new anonymous writer as “a long-standing, current employee of Fox News Channel who will be providing Gawker with regular dispatches from inside the organization.” The mole wrote that he was still working for Fox, but wanted to go out with a bang by revealing secrets from inside the company for as long as he could. Oooh, what would he reveal? Steve Doocy‘s no-brown-M&M contract? A manual explaining how to use footage of prison riots as B-roll during segments on Occupy Wall Street? A “Reagan Friday” dress code?
Alas, he barely had a chance to get started: Fox caught the mole about 24 hours later. So where does the “Fox mole,” who we now know as Joe Muto, go from here? And what on earth was he thinking?
That first column for Gawker was a bit of a let-down. If Fox News is really democracy’s enemy #1, as some progressives see it (or democracy’s last defender, as its conservative fans see it), then you’d think the insider dispatches would be juicier. Instead, Muto listed familiar public complaints about Fox, and share some exclusive, scandalous behind-the-scenes video … of Mitt Romney talking about horses with Fox host Sean Hannity. Horses are a rich man’s hobby, you see, and Mitt Romney is rich, though he tries not to remind voters of this. Uh, bombshell?
His second big post, which went live yesterday morning, included a few photos of the bathrooms at Fox. The big revelation there is that they weren’t very fancy. The mole also wrote, “Half the printers are usually out of commission, and god help you if you have to find a working fax machine.” It was definitely starting to seem like either the Fox mole was very low on the totem pole and had no access to the juicy stuff, or that Fox News was — gasp! — a totally average workplace with no mustache-twirling villains shouting “TIME FOR MANDATORY RACISM TRAINING!” in staff meetings.
By yesterday afternoon, Fox told Mediaite that it knew who the mole was. By the end of the workday, according to the mole’s own account posted later at Gawker, executive Dianne Brandi had hauled him into her office and suspended him indefinitely. Turns out they found him because he used his own computer login to access the Romney video and one other within the last week.
The mole introduced himself as Joe Muto, and said he worked for Fox for eight years, beginning as a production assistant and eventually becoming an associate producer for “The O’Reilly Factor.” “As of today, I am free, and I am ready to tell my story, which I wasn’t able to fully do for the previous 36 hours,” he wrote, promising “much, much more tomorrow.”
What on earth is this guy thinking? If it turns out he has something really explosive to share with the world today, perhaps it will have been worth it, for the sake of truth and justice and a book deal. Moles and whistleblowers are truly heroic when they expose deep injustices. But when they’re just whining about the fact that they don’t like their boss’s politics? The boss for whom they voluntarily worked?
Unless Muto thinks he can ride this mole thing to a whole new career, he’s going to be in deep career doo-doo within a few weeks. Unless he’s got something big to share today, he seems to have burned eight years of professional bridges just to tell the world that a media company doesn’t have gold-plated toilets, or that Mitt Romney likes horse-riding. The most scandalous thing we’ve learned about Fox this week is that they kept this numbskull around for eight years.