This week, Fox News columnist Roger Friedman provided lecture fodder for journalistic ethics professors everywhere. When news of a pirated copy of 20th-Century Fox’s forthcoming ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’ recently surfaced (the movie’s set to hit the big screen May 1st), comic fans and interested moviegoers began scouring the Web for an early viewing.
Mr. Friedman not only found and watched the advance copy, he decided it would be a good idea to review it, saying, “It took really less than seconds to start playing it all right onto my computer.’” He was pretty brazen about it, saying also that he found all of the “current top 10 [movies in theaters], plus TV shows, commercials, videos, everything, all streaming away.” He went on to say, “I could have downloaded all of it but really, who has the time or the room?”
Rupert Murdoch, the Charles Xavier of Fox (or Magneto depending upon your view) and Chairman and CEO of News Corporation, which is part of the Fox conglomerate, vehemently condemned Friedman’s tactics, citing a “zero-tolerance” policy for pirated movies. According to the DeadlineDailyHollywood blog, the News Corporation asked Fox News to take down the “reprehensible” column, which it did, and then, after advising Fox News on how to properly handle the situation, promptly dismissed Friedman.
Perhaps in the future, Friedman will review illegally released movies through a blog, rather than on a Web site owned by the company releasing the film. But then again, maybe he thought it would be alright. We are talking about Rupert Murdoch, after all, who doesn’t exactly let accuracy and integrity get in the way of a good story.