Saturday, January 28, 2006

FOX News Cares For Its Employees

The talking heads on FOX News always have one meta-narrarative whenever they talk about government - namely that private enterprise can always do things more efficiently and more professionally than government. In the FOX News/Bush administration/RNC/Wall Street view of the world, business just works better than government.

So what do you make of this story from the NY Daily News?

There's something noxious at Fox News that's making people sick - and it's not Bill O'Reilly.

Two Fox News employees are suing the cable news channel for allegedly ignoring a toxic stew of mold and pesticides in its Manhattan headquarters.

But Fox News said the charges are bogus, claiming its studios at 1211 Sixth Ave. have a clean bill of health from federal and state regulators.

Veteran employees Laurette DeRosairo and Madronicia Clarke said they became seriously ill after being exposed to mold and pesticides in the basement studios and control rooms starting in 2004. They also claim their bosses used unlicensed workers to spray an insecticide that had been banned for use indoors.

The fumes got so bad last April that it sickened three anchors on the morning newscast "Fox and Friends," and sent a cameraman to the hospital after he fell unconscious, according to court papers filed Thursday in state Supreme Court.

But a Fox News executive familiar with the incident said the cameraman came to work that day with flulike symptoms, and that his fainting spell had nothing to do with fumes.

DeRosairo and Clarke said the studios suffered from water leakage whenever it rained, forcing workers to put blue tarps near the ceilings to catch runoff and divert it to garbage cans. The moisture created a haven for mold and mildew.

"My lungs took a beating, and I don't know if they'll ever recover," said DeRosairo, a graphics operator who was recently diagnosed with severe asthma. "We're just really concerned about the long-term affect and what's going to happen to our co-workers."

Fox News honcho Roger Ailes himself spoke to employees on June 21 to allay their fears but downplayed the risk, the plaintiffs claim.

Fox News spokeswoman Irena Briganti said the allegations in the lawsuit "are baseless and lack merit."

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration "has since declined to investigate this further and the [state Department of Environmental Conservation] did an on-site investigation after which the matter was fully resolved. Fox News is in full compliance with both OSHA and DEC guidelines."

Clarke, a makeup artist who joined Fox News when it started up in 1996, said she rarely called in sick until recently, when her autoimmune illness forced her to work three days a week.

"I'm not so much worried about my job as about my health," she said of her decision to sue her longtime employer.

I know what I think about the toxic mold story at FOX News - Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes don't give a shit about their employees and care only about making money.

But I can't say I feel too sorry for the sick employees at FOX News either. When you work for a corporation that consistently spreads the meta-narrative that "what's good for business is good for all of us," you shouldn't be too surprised when the corporation you work for cares more about making money than keeping you healthy.

And my favorite part of the FOX/Toxic Mold story?

FOX hired unlicensed workers to spray pesticides in a studio already infected by toxic mold!

Welcome to Rupert Murdoch's "Ownership Society," folks. He owns you, he owns News Corp., and he does whatever the fuck he likes whether it makes you sick or not.

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