Fox News Identifies and Fires Gawker Mole
(NEW YORK) -- Less than 24 hours after Gawker introduced “The Fox Mole,” an anonymous columnist for the news and gossip site and current employee of Fox News Channel, Fox said it has figured out that it was Associate Producer Joe Muto who was leaking inside information, and has announced that he has been fired.
“Joe Muto is fired effective April 12. Once the network determined that Mr. Muto was the main culprit in less than 24 hours, he was suspended late today while we pursued concurrent avenues. We are continuing to explore legal recourse against Mr. Muto and possibly others,” a Fox spokesman said Wednesday.
Muto was still at it as late as Wednesday afternoon. In a post on Gawker, the mole wrote, “So Fox’s PR team has been telling people that they have ‘found’ me and are presently ‘exploring legal options.’ If Fox has smoked me out, it’s news to me. I’m still here. Back to work.”
In response to that, a Fox rep told Mediaite, “We know who it is.”
On Wednesday night, Muto revealed his name in another Gawker post, entitled “Hi Roger. It’s Me, Joe: The Fox Mole.”
Fox reportedly confronted him about the incident, as he explained in the blog post.
“Two hours ago I was called into a meeting with Dianne Brandi, the Fox News Executive Vice President of Legal and Business Affairs and suspended indefinitely… with pay, oddly enough. They nailed me,” Muto wrote. “In the end, it was the digital trail that gave me away. They knew that someone, using my computer login, had accessed the sources for two videos that ended up on Gawker over the past few weeks. They couldn’t prove it entirely, but I was pretty much the only suspect.”
Muto said he first denied it, “which is why they didn’t fire me outright.”
Muto’s first column, which debuted Tuesday, promised to deliver privileged information from Fox News’ headquarters. Its first post included previously unseen video of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney discussing horseback riding with Fox News host Sean Hannity. The second post featured photos of the company’s bathrooms and a description of the “dreary” newsroom, where staffers are “constantly worrying about an infestation from bedbugs, mice or some other vermin.”
In Tuesday’s column, Muto explained that after years working at the conservative news network, “the final straw for me came last year.” The main point of contention: The Fox Nation, a news aggregator, described as “an unholy mashup of the Drudge Report, the Huffington Post and a Klan meeting.”
Muto knew the end was coming, but wanted to go down in flames: “I am leaving. Sooner rather than later, I’m guessing. But I can’t just leave quietly, can I? Where’s the fun in that?”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio