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'Fox Mole' ousted: Whistle-blowing hero or disloyal self-promoter?

The Fox Mole, an insider who wrote horrible things about Fox News, has been identified and fired in a fresh parable about how new media tools are creating new workplace issues.

By Staff writer / April 12, 2012

The Fox Mole posted video outtakes, never before aired, of Fox News Channel's Sean Hannity (shown here in a file photo).

Douglas C. Pizac/AP/File


As of Tuesday Joe Muto was newly enshrined as the "Fox Mole," an employee inside the right-leaning news network who was tattling in public about the alleged failings of his employer. 

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 The next day he had lost his job while winning some fame, being threatened with a lawsuit by Fox, and dangling the prospect that he has "much, much more" to say.

 Mr. Muto, who until Wednesday was an associate producer at Fox News, adopted the "Fox Mole" persona on the news website Gawker. In blog posts that sometimes included video footage of anchors like Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly, he echoed views that have long been voiced by critics from the outside: That it is biased against President Obama (and Democrats) and that its coverage is anything but "fair and balanced."

Is he a whistleblowing hero, a disloyal self-promoter, or something in between? 

 The answer may be in the eye of the beholder, but he's certainly a cautionary tale of the 21st century workplace, where digital technology intersects with a tweet-your-life culture of public expression. Corporations, for their part, want to guard their reputations and their secrets as much as ever, even as they often embrace the idea of workers who also blog on the side.

 Muto joins other US workers who have made high-profile job exits that included public complaints. In March, a senior executive at Goldman Sachs, Greg Smith, announced his own sudden departure in a New York Times column arguing that the investment bank has lost its moral compass. In 2010, JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater made headlines when he voiced frustrations with his job over the public-address system before exiting down the airplane's emergency chute. (That came after passengers preparing to walk off a flight had an altercation about an overhead bin.)

 The gesture by Mr. Smith of Goldman Sachs prompted some workplace experts to warn American workers: You may not want to do that yourself, even in an era when people are used to posting their blunt reviews of restaurants and books online.


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