Fox HQ in New York is a truly soul-crushing workplace. Our building is connected to the labyrinthine system of tunnels radiating out from Rockefeller Center, which means I can go straight from the train into the News Corp. building without going above ground. At first this seems like a convenience ("I don't have to go out in the cold!") but eventually it just adds to the depression ("I literally have not seen the sun once since I left my apartment this morning.")
The basement newsroom is dreary, with no windows, fluorescent lighting, and constant worrying about an infestation from bedbugs, mice or some other vermin. Nobody really has a lunch break, so we bolt down our food at our desks like convicts and toss our sandwich wrappers and salad bowls into the wastepaper baskets under our desks, creating a tasty daily buffet for insects.
The place is oddly low-rent. The computers are all at least 6 or 7 years old, and can barely run more than two software programs at a time. Everyone has a TV at their desk with a cable hookup, but the signal is bad and constantly cuts out and has static on half the channels. Half the printers are usually out of commission, and god help you if you have to find a working fax machine.
Credit where credit is due — they recently redid the bathrooms outside the newsroom, and they're GLORIOUS. But only by comparison to the old bathrooms, which were dismal, and as near as I can tell had never been fixed up since the network started in the mid-90s.
When Fox was a young network on a shoestring budget, spartan bathrooms were perfectly understandable—almost a badge of honor, really. ("You think Murrow had a nice place to piss when he was on a goddamn London rooftop during the blitz?" I imagine a crusty old newsman lecturing me.) But that was a long time ago. We've been number one for 12 years. We're a fucking cash cow at this point, basically propping up Rupert's entire money-losing journalism empire. Yet on most floors of the office, we're still dealing with what you see in this photograph.
In case it's hard to make out, this is a bathroom stall with a gap between the edge of the stall and the wall that's so big that it has toilet paper draped over it for a modicum of privacy. And this isn't some temporary fix—it has been like this for YEARS.
This is what the bathrooms are like on most of the floors, including the talent floor. If you were to wander up there, the only thing separating you from watching Bill O'Reilly take a dump is a slight breeze displacing a couple strands of cheap single-ply. Yes—O'Reilly shits with the commoners. That man makes entirely too much money to have to put up with that. Bill, call your agent!
The lobby isn't too shabby. It's mostly bland and marble, with the usual pieces of inoffensive corporate art. Not so usual, however, are the 25-foot-tall murals featuring a rotating cast of on-air personalities. Up until a couple months ago it was Fox News prime time people plastered up there. Currently it's Fox Business personalities, the grim swollen visages of Neil Cavuto and Lou Dobbs grinning at you, North Korea-style, insisting that all is well at the ratings-challenged business network.
Watch this space for future dispatches from the Fox Mole.