Whatever my opinion is of the “fair and balanced” editorial policies of FOX News, I had no reason to doubt that the company itself was a legitimate business.
As I was searching for news on North Korea’s failed rocket launch, one link I clicked on was that of a FOX News posting on this story. The page came up, along with the usual series of ads… except that one of them looked more than a little unusual. Not the kind of ad you expect to see on a legitimate Web site.
It said, “Christian Mom Makes $5k/M”. And sure enough, it’s a scam. The Web site, registered in December 2008, just reeks of fakeness; fake life story, fake testimonials, further postings “disabled due to spam”. Not to mention that what it actually sells, the so-called “Google Home Business Kit”, is not worth anything… you can make money with Google (google.com/adsense) but you don’t need to buy any “home business kits” to do so, and you’re unlikely to make $5,000 or even $500 a month.
So perhaps FOX was duped when they accepted the ad of a scamster? I was tempted to give them the benefit of the doubt but then I scrolled to the bottom of the page where this ad was repeated along with two other advertisements. One was titled “I’m Happy I Lost My Job”. Same idea: fake Web site, fake testimonials, $5,000/month, Google Home Business Kit. The person this Web site supposedly belongs to claims to have come from the Ottawa area. Does this mean that the ad was, in fact, geographically targeted because my IP address puts me in Ottawa, and any scamster knows that I am more likely to believe an ad if it comes from my local neighborhood? I have a proxy server in the US, so I tried reaching the FOX Web site through that server with a different Web browser. Same result, same three ads. I even tried to run the browser on that remote server (painfully slow, through an X-Window connection) and still, the same ads came up. So the Ottawa thing is perhaps just a coincidence.
Compared to these two ads, the third link, which was for a teeth whitener ranked #1 by Rachel Ray (presumably I’m supposed to know who Rachel Ray is; hmmm, let me check, Rachel Ray is the title of a novel by 19th century English novelist Anthony Trollope, but there is a television personality named Rachael Ray, presumably that’s who they meant) almost seems legitimate. (Of course if it had been authorized by the real Rachael Ray, they’d presumably have spelled her name correctly.)
So what does this tell us? I can think of several possibilities, most quite unflattering to FOX News and their viewers. For instance:
- FOX News are scamsters, working together with other Internet con artists, ripping people off;
- FOX News don’t care where their money comes from and accept ads without screening from Internet con artists;
- FOX News accept ads specifically targeted at people colloquially described by the derogatory term “white trash”.
But the real question is, what does this say about the quality of the news they deliver?