Project Veritas released insider footage featuring an interview with suspended FOX 26 reporter Ivory Hecker, who blew the whistle on her own network during Monday's live report, for what she says are acts of deception.
Hecker claims the station's editorial decisions are an affront to honest journalism and that company leadership prioritizes corporate interests over the viewer.
Hecker, who serves as the dayside reporter for the five and six o'clock news, came forward to Project Veritas with recordings of the station's colleagues and superiors showing repeated censorship on COVID-19 and Bitcoin-related stories. The tapes also reveal that she was told to prioritize the opinion of the station’s general manager and the company's CEO above the audience's right to know information.
The journalist highlighted a pattern of submission among the local affiliate's leadership to Fox's corporate interests, rather than acting in the interest of transparency with its viewers. "Viewers are being deceived about some of the things that are going on," Hecker told Project Veritas.
"What's happening within Fox Corp is an operation of prioritizing corporate interests above the viewer's interest and, therefore, operating in a deceptive way," Hecker elucidated.
One major issue Hecker addressed was FOX 26's pressure on the fill-in anchor to minimize stories presenting hydroxychloroquine as an acceptable treatment for COVID-19. Hecker cited ad dollars, network corporate executives, government health departments, and money-making motivations as the main reasons behind such censorship.
"Fox came at my throat for standing up against censorship," Hecker said.
Hecker recorded phone calls with two supervisors, FOX 26 vice president and news director Susan Schiller and the station's assistant news director Lee Meier.
The situation turned racial behind the scenes, according to Hecker, when Meier judged the newsworthiness of one story based on specific demographics.
A story about Bitcoin was deemed inapplicable "for a poor African-American audience" by Meier, a demographic that represents a large portion of FOX 26's audience during the five o'clock hour.
She also obtained audio of Schiller telling Hecker to "cease and desist" posting about hydroxychloroquine on social media. Hecker had interviewed Dr. Joseph Varon, chief of the Critical Care and COVID-19 unit at United Memorial Medical Center, who spoke about successes using hydroxychloroquine on certain patients.
Project Veritas reporters recorded members of the FOX 26 team shedding light on the young producers who joined the network "right out of college," the mechanics of how ad dollars affect stories, and the recent push to publicize the COVID-19 vaccinations as much as possible.
Hecker said the decision to shy away from these topics was not made in the interest of the public good, but rather, in line with the leadership of Fox Corporation and Fox's advertisers.
FOX 26 sales coordinator Jennifer Bourgeois admitted on tape that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is influencing stations, including the local outlet, due to the amount of money funneled into ad campaigns. In turn, Project Veritas, the move affects the network's coverage of major health issues.
"[The CDC] are spending money because they can," she told an undercover Project Veritas reporter. "[The CDC] are in the pocket. You know? They're there."
Hecker said that leadership forgot that the media's "first loyalty is to the citizen."
"Vaccines are a potential money maker for Fox," she explained. "Fox gets paid for that. As a viewer you need to look at who is advertising on this TV station, and you've got to realize—surely that the TV station doesn't want to hurt its advertisers." When asked why she would risk her own career and professional reputation, Hecker said the "corruption" at the network became too overwhelming.
"It affects the viewers. That's why I'm doing this," Hecker reiterated, stating that the viewers are being "deceived" by the media's narrative. While she acknowledges that several stories are "fantastic journalism," others have "an incredible slant."
If one steps outside the narrative, "they try internally destroy you—as I've witnessed firsthand," Hecker told Project Veritas. She concluded: "At this point, I want out of this narrative news telling. I want out of this corruption. I want to tell true stories without fear of whether it fits the corporate narrative."
Hecker was suspended Tuesday afternoon following the on-air announcement that Fox Corporation is "muzzling" her coverage. Less than 24 hours later, Hecker was informed she is suspended from the network "effective immediately."
She was live in Montgomery County when Hecker pivoted mid-report Monday evening to let the viewers know that Fox leadership has been "muzzling" the fill-in anchor to keep "certain information" from the viewing audience.
The journalist for the Houston-based outlet then revealed she will be leaking evidence exposing Fox's corporate crackdown through Project Veritas the next day. "I am not the only reporter being subjected to this," she said. Hecker stated that Project Veritas would publish the intel she's gathered on the company.
Hecker recorded the moment when she was notified via phone of the suspension. Meier told Hecker: "I wanted to call you and let you know that you are suspended, effective immediately." Meier added: "Pending further review. I would ask you not to come to the station, okay? Alright, and we will be in touch."
"It's sad to see that brave individuals like Ivory get suspended simply for telling the truth," commented Project Veritas founder James O'Keefe via Tuesday press release. "If this doesn't prove corporate media is broken, I don't know what does."
It appears Hecker was later terminated, Project Veritas reported, when she was asked to return equipment by FOX 26 human resources director Tracey Rivers.
"Fox 26 has already come down hard on Ivory after she made serious allegations against the station," O'Keefe observed. "Rather than abiding by truly objective journalistic standards of integrity, transparency and publicizing facts, they decided it was best to target an honest whistleblower."
FOX 26 called Hecker earlier today when she was asked to return reporting equipment to the station. Hecker's mother has since set up a crowdfunding support page for the terminated reporter on Christian website GiveSendGo.com.
"There's a narrative. Yes, it is unspoken. "If you don't sense what that narrative is and go with it, there will be grave consequences for you," Hecker emphasized.