‘Fox Mole’ Joe Muto leaves Gawker, reviews ‘The Newsroom’ for Slate


Congratulations to the person who thought of this: Joe Muto, whose short run as the "Fox Mole" gripped New York media for a workweek, has reviewed "The Newsroom" for Slate.

Why not Gawker, where he wrote about the inner workings of Fox News as a former producer for "The O'Reilly Factor"? Gawker's A.J. Daulerio tells Poynter's Julie Moos via email that the site no longer employs Muto. When he was served with a search warrant in late April, Gawker Media Chief Operating Officer Gaby Darbyshire said Muto was still an employee and that the company would represent him in the criminal investigation into information and videos Fox alleged he took from the company. Darbyshire told Moos Friday by email that the company "will continue to support him for the stuff he did for us." Daulerio said "the separation was amicable."

Muto's assessment of "The Newsroom":

I spent almost eight years working in cable news before I decided earlier this year to exit the industry in a quietdignified fashion, so naturally the show piqued my curiosity. The series is getting mixed reviews, but as far as verisimilitude goes, Sorkin deserves credit for nailing a lot of the details of the milieu. But given how many of the little things he gets right, it’s surprising that he gets a few of the big ones so wrong.

The Huffington Post's Maureen Ryan criticized how the show downplays the importance of the Internet for news, but Muto says one thing Sorkin gets right is "The Luddite anchor."

One of the most effective running gags in the pilot episode involves McAvoy repeatedly expressing amazement that he has a blog, which is run by a young staffer. This is dead on. My old boss has a website, which he’s certainly aware of, since he steers people there every night to buy branded merchandise. It’s still an open question whether or not he’s aware that he has a Twitter account with almost 200,000 followers. (That’s not to say that this is the norm, however. Lots of TV journalists—Jake Tapper, Chuck Todd, and Greta Van Susteren come to mind—are prolific online, writing their own blog posts and tweeting furiously.)

On the other hand, Muto writes, Sorkin misjudges the importance of ratings. The show portrays the pursuit of ratings as a hush-hush affair. "But in the real world," Muto writes, "every single cable news employee, from the CEO down to the lowliest intern is acutely aware of—or in some cases obsessed with—the numbers."

Related: TV critics pan Sorkin’s ‘The Newsroom’ (Poynter) | Journalist or corporate mole? FBI tips make difference difficult to detect (Poynter) || Earlier: Ailes tells UNC audience: "The mole shows a culture that believes in theft" (Poynter) | Shield law could protect Fox News mole, Gawker blogger Joe Muto (Poynter) | Taxonomy: Muto is the malcontent mole (Poynter)

  • Steve Myers

    Steve Myers was the managing editor of Poynter.org until August 2012, when he became the deputy managing editor and senior staff writer for The Lens, a nonprofit investigative news site in New Orleans.


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