Last night, after airing footage of Jesse Jackson whispering that he wanted to "cut [Obama's] nuts off" for "talking down to black people" on faith-based federal initiatives, Bill O'Reilly said on his Fox News show that the network had further, "more damaging" footage of Jackson talking that it did not air (see the last video here). O'Reilly was, perhaps, trying to sound like he was taking the high road, but really just came off like yet another Fox News smear artist. Now, a Fox News staffer is doing some whispering of his own about what Jackson said, and it seems inevitable the cable news channel will have to back up O'Reilly's allegations with full details. Citing a coworker friend who had seen the tape, the New York-based Fox staffer tells us Jackson referred to Obama "using the n-word — [and] not 'Nilla." The source also shed light on why it took three days for Jackson's comments to emerge.
According to the Fox Newser, Jackson's comments Sunday at the network's Chicago bureau were discovered by a logger (someone who transcribes video). Due to a backlog of work from the Fourth of July holiday, logging of this particular footage was delayed. The network is also transitioning to an all-digital newsroom this week (as has been in place at Fox Business since launch), though it's not clear if that contributed to the delay.
The source thinks Fox is best advised to just put the video out:
Who knows why O'Reilly said there was more if he didn't want to show it. He must have thought it would make him look classy, but it just makes him look like a liar. Show me the money and all that, you know?
...Given what we know of Fox PR, I'd expect they'll "leak" the whole thing to show that they were being classy and not manipulative.
And asked whether Jackson used the n-word against Obama in a hateful way, the staffer said, "Jackson certainly wouldn't use the word in hate, but neither do the youth he so often criticizes for using it either."
It's hard to see how Fox wins, PR-wise, at this point. If the channel releases the footage, or a transcript, it will look like it was cynically timing its release to extend the shelf life and ratings splash of its Jackson-Obama scoop. If it doesn't release the footage, it will continue to look like its trying to smear Jackson with unfounded insinuations.
Such a jam. And it couldn't have happened to a more unsympathetic publicity operation.