Fox Fumbles Geography

CJR reader Dan writes in with a tip about a recent Fox News segment called “Terrorists in Your Backyard,” in which a correspondent gets some vital details wrong.

Reacting to President Obama’s executive order to close down Guantanamo in the coming year, Pennsylvania Congressman Jack Murtha said that the Gitmo detainees could be relocated to prisons in his home state. To find out what residents of Murtha’s district think of this proposal, Fox News headed to Pennsylvania.

They should’ve packed a map.

Our reader alerts to the actual boundaries of Murtha’s district, which don’t include Mel’s Restaurant in Somerset Borough—which Fox said was in the “heart” of Murtha’s district and popular with “constituents”—the pub where the reporter conducted his interviews.


What’s more, the piece teems with an unfortunate xenophobic edge. For instance, the correspondent approaches a local resident, shows him a photograph of a man in traditional Arab head dress and asks, “Would you want a guy like this living in your backyard?”—all without explaining that Guantanamo detainees were apprehended under a variety of circumstances, the charges against them have not been laid out, and they’ve never been convicted of anything. Yeesh.

Oh, and then there’s that questionable practice of going to bars for easy interviews, where the socially lubricated are quick with a quote.

That’s three strikes.

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Katia Bachko is on staff at The New Yorker.