Sweeps are a time when some stations try to grab viewers by, well, stretching the truth a bit to pass off old news as "breaking news" or by labeling widely reported stories as "exclusives." Some like, Fox 35, try both — to con viewers into thinking they’re breaking an exclusive story that "you have to see!"
Monday night during 24, WOFL aired a promo for its 10 p.m. news. Anchor Shelly Ribando breathless reported, "Fox 35 makes an alarming discovery! Foreign companies taking charge of security in our nation’s ports! Tonight, on Fox 35 News at 10." Same tease with same wording ran later during Fox 35’s newscast. Remember, this is Fox 35 saying it’s making this "alarming discovery."
The story is about a British company that runs port operations in six U.S. cities, including Miami. That company — Peninsular and Oriental — is being taken over by a state-owned company from the United Arab Emirates called Dubai Ports World.
Wow! Great get by Fox 35, right? Well … except for the fact that this story (a) was all over the network news earlier in the evening, (b) has been reported almost daily by CNN since last week and (c) was run in some newspaper more than a month ago.
When WOFL aired its report, no mention was made about how Fox 35 "discovered" this story. So, we’ll never know if WOFL uncovered this bombshell by (a) checking the wires, (b) reading the newspaper, (c) watching CNN (heavens to Rupert, say that ain’t so!) or (d) surfing the internet.
If you ever wonder why the public has such a low opinion of the media, it’s because of useless hyperbole such as this sweeps stinker. I now will step down from the soapbox.