Ivory Hecker, who went viral after accusing her now-former employer Fox 26 of “muzzling” her, has presented the records she kept to make the case of entrenched “corruption” at the news station.
Hecker, who was suspended and later fired by the Houston affiliate of Fox News after her Monday live report stunt, was interviewed by Project Veritas’ James O’Keefe. Her story, however, fell short of the smoking gun that some viewers expected. The substance of her allegations was that Fox 26 was putting profits and other corporate interests before the interests of its viewers.
One part of her argument was a recording confirming the station’s refusal to cover bitcoin in its five o’clock segment. Assistant News Director Lee Meier said it was her choice not to pursue the story because “Bitcoin for poor African-American audience at five – it’s probably not going to play.” Meier’s words seem to be an example of how the editorial decision-making process works based on who watches the early evening news.
A large portion of the interview was dedicated to the coverage of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), an anti-malaria drug that was at one point considered a promising treatment for Covid-19, and became a hot political topic in the US after then-President Donald Trump endorsed it.
Among other things, Trump shared a video of a controversial HCQ enthusiast, Houston-based doctor and pastor Stella Immanuel. After going viral, her videos were suppressed by social media as Covid-19 misinformation.
Hecker says she was harshly reprimanded by management for sharing a clip from an interview with Dr. Joseph Varon, the chief of critical care at UMMC Houston, which her crew filmed while doing a story for Fox 26. In it, Varon said that HCQ was “politicized up to the wazoo,” and that he used the drug in the treatment of Covid-19 patients “with good success.”
Fox 26 Vice President and News Director Susan Schiller told Hecker to “cease and desist posting” about HCQ and said she “failed as a reporter to not know more” about the drug beforehand, according to a recorded conversation, which was played during the Project Veritas interview. The journalist rejected the accusation, citing an earlier piece she did about the controversy surrounding Dr. Immanuel. The criticism was apparently motivated by potential negative reactions to the post from senior management at Fox News.
Project Veritas also played some of its own secret recordings of Fox 26 employees, confirming that the station sold advertising time to the CDC. O’Keefe insinuated that Fox subjected its news reporting on health issues and Covid-19 to the considerations of advertisers, including vaccine producers, but failed to produce solid proof. The closest thing to an admission was a remark that “a lot of stuff can happen,” which was made by a sales coordinator after she was asked if the Ad Council could call and ask not to run “any anti-vax stories” as a precondition for buying some spots.
Hecker accused Fox News of enforcing “the corporate narrative” and failing its viewers and the principles of journalism, which amounts to “corruption” of the profession. Fox 26 said it “adheres to the highest editorial standards of accuracy and impartiality” and called the journalist “a disgruntled former employee seeking publicity by promoting a false narrative produced through selective editing and misrepresentation.” Asked about her motive for turning on Fox, Hecker said she wanted to protect viewers from corporate deception.