An Atheist in the FOXhole: A Liberal's Eight-Year Odyssey Inside the Heart of the Right-Wing Media

An Atheist in the FOXhole: A Liberal's Eight-Year Odyssey Inside the Heart of the Right-Wing Media

by Joe Muto


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780525953951
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
Publication date: 06/04/2013
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.16(h) x 1.18(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Joe Muto worked at Fox for eight years. He lives in Brooklyn.

Read an Excerpt


The Beginning of the End for a Middling Cable News Career

My entire life, I’d always thought the phrase “my blood ran cold” was a cliché. Until Tim opened his mouth, that is. “Oh, look, they caught him. They caught the Fox Mole.” Boom. Just like that. Cold blood as I felt the world start to cave in around my ears.

Suppressing a shiver, I swiveled in my chair to face Tim Wolfe sitting at the desk three feet away from mine. Both of us were tucked away into a corner of the seventeenth floor of the News Corporation building in midtown Manhattan.

Like me, Tim was an associate producer for The O’Reilly Factor at Fox News Channel in New York City.

Unlike me, he hadn’t spent the past two days leaking video clips, pictures, and stories from inside Fox to the media and gossip blog Gawker.

“They caught him.” The sentence lingered in my brain, bounced off the walls of my skull a bit, dropped into my stomach like a sandbag, sending it lurching toward my ankles.

They caught him.

They caught him?

They caught me?

So why was I still sitting at my desk, like it was a normal Wednesday? Why hadn’t a corporate SWAT team at the disposal of my secrecy-obsessed, paranoid company president Roger Ailes thrown a bag over my head and dragged me to a gulag in the basement? I must have heard him wrong.

“What’s that?” I asked, trying my best to keep my voice calm and casual.

“Check out Mediaite,” Tim said, pointing to the website he had up on his screen. “Fox says they’ve got him.”

I typed the address into my browser. was a popular site for industry news, and it had been all over the Mole story since my first post had gone up on Gawker the day before. The site loaded and there it was in a screamingly large font: the headline fox news spokesperson tells mediaite: we found the mole.

I clicked through to find a short, disturbingly ominous statement from a network spokesman:

“We found the person and we’re exploring legal options at this time.”


“Wow, I guess they got him,” I said to Tim, chuckling, all innocence. “Ha ha. That was quick.” I fake laughed.

Tim laughed, too. “I’d hate to be that guy right now.”

“Oh, yeah,” I said. “That guy is fucked.”

Thirty seconds later, I was in the bathroom. I noticed that my hands were shaking as I turned on the faucet. I looked in the mirror and saw that my face had gone totally white, while my neck was flushing a deep red. I felt light headed. At some point during the brief walk between my desk and the commode, I’d apparently morphed into a heroine from a Victorian novel. Did I have the vapors? Would Keira Knightley play me in the movie version? If I fainted in the bathroom, would it gain me any sympathy from the company goons who were no doubt on their way to apprehend me?

I splashed water on my face.

Pull it together, Joe. They’re bluffing. They don’t know it’s you. You were very careful. You took every precaution. There’s nothing they have tying you to Gawker. They can search your work computer, your phone, even your personal e mail, and there’s absolutely nothing. No proof. They’re just saying they caught you to buy themselves time, or to make you panic and expose your identity. If they really knew it was you, do you think you’d still be in the building right now? Of course not. You’d have ten security guards at your desk, waiting to haul you away. Don’t do anything stupid. Just act normal.

My little mental pep talk had the desired effect. After a minute or two more of water splashing and deep breathing, my color returned to more or less normal and my hands stopped shaking.

Leaving the bathroom, I passed Tim, who was conferring with another producer at her desk. He looked at me with narrowed eyes as I walked by, a concerned look on his face. Maybe I haven’t recovered as much as I thought. Maybe he’s on to me. I shot him a reassuring smile.

All is well, I hoped my grin said. I’m mere minutes away from having a total nervous breakdown is what it probably broadcast, in retrospect.

Back at my desk I tried to concentrate on my duties. If, as I hoped, management was bluffing about having found me, I needed to act normal and do my job. Shirking my duties in panic was a surefire way to draw attention to myself.

Calm and casual, I told myself, and leaned back in my chair, my foot kicking the duffel bag under my desk, which had slipped my mind until that very moment. I had spent the previous night at my girlfriend Jenny’s apartment and headed straight into the office from her place, carrying my soiled clothes with me to the office.

That brought two things to mind immediately. One: I hadn’t told Jenny a thing about any of this. She’d flown to Pittsburgh that morning to visit her family, and arguably would not react well to an over the-phone revelation that I’d decided to make a career transition from cable news producer to potentially criminal corporate espionage agent without consulting her first. (You know how women are. They hate when you do that.)

Two: More pressing, I had something else in the bag, something nestled up against my dirty undies—an iPad filled with the Gawker posts I’d written and copies of the behind the scenes videos I’d leaked. I’d been so busy congratulating myself for my cloak and dagger tactics that I’d completely forgotten I had brought into the building all the proof they’d ever need to nail me, sitting in a bag under my desk, marinating in my day old crotch sweat.

Okay, maybe now is the proper time to shirk my duties in panic.

I grabbed the duffel and popped out of my chair. I knew I needed to get the evidence out of the building. The prospect of getting fired was scary enough, and something that I (wrongly, as it turns out) thought I had mentally prepared myself for, but it occurred to me that my company did not fuck around. While I didn’t actually believe Fox News had a hidden subterranean dungeon that they’d stash me in while a crack anti-espionage team went through all of my personal possessions, I didn’t completely dismiss it as a possibility, either.

Tim and I were a little bit separated from the other members of the O’Reilly staff, a seating arrangement left over from the days when O’Reilly was still doing a radio show, on which I had originally been a staffer before transitioning to the TV side. We had the unique experience of having desks immediately outside O’Reilly’s office, yielding hours of fascination and entertainment; but the separation from my peers could feel a bit isolating at times. That day, however, I was thankful that the dozen or so other producers were located fifty feet down the hall and couldn’t see me indecisively pacing holding a duffel bag.

My floor was arranged into three concentric rings. Anchors, reporters, and a few high powered producers occupied the coveted window offices on the outer ring. The middle ring, where I was, consisted of lower level producers scattered among desks separated by chest high cubicle walls. The inner ring was a few windowless offices, video editing suites, break rooms, janitor closets . . . and the elevator bank.

It was that elevator bank I needed to get to, walking along the middle ring straight past the other O’Reilly producers—a potentially risky move, since, with the realization that I was in possession of the incriminating iPad, I was guessing that my briefly absent Victorian lady complexion had returned; and if my appearance didn’t give me away, the fact that I was leaving the building with a bag a good seven hours before quitting time was bound to raise a few eyebrows.

There was another way, though. If I followed the ring in the opposite direction, I wouldn’t have to pass my colleagues; I wouldn’t even have to use the seventeenth floor elevators. It’s true that was a longer route, weaving through the base camps of several of the other shows that were stationed on the seventeenth floor; but it also led to a little used, virtually unknown stairway that would allow me to climb to the much less populated eighteenth floor, where I could use the elevators to escape to the ground floor. The longer route would potentially bring me in contact with more people, but, hopefully, they wouldn’t think a sweaty, pale faced O’Reilly producer making a beeline for the exits was anything out of the ordinary.

As I started down the long way out, I passed O’Reilly’s office. The door was open, but he wasn’t inside; in fact, he wouldn’t be there for a few more hours. Though the man was intimately involved in every aspect of his show’s production and started his workday at seven a.m., he spent roughly four hours a day actually present in the office.

It’s good to be the boss.

And for the time being, it was good to be me. Or lucky to be me, anyway. Because my path was blessedly devoid of people. It was early lunchtime, and most of the desks along my route were empty. A few bored staffers munched salads at their desks, heads dipped as they grazed; others inhaled sandwiches, eyes glued to their screens, checking Facebook or Twitter or, alarmingly, Mediaite. I breezed past them one by one with no incident, calmly walking down the nearly abandoned hallways, past desks and cubicles and offices, until finally I was so close I could see the source of my freedom: the door that would bring me to the out of the way staircase that led to the floor above.

Twenty feet to the doorway. Ten feet. Five feet.

Then a voice from behind.

“Hey, Muto!”

So close.

I turned to face the speaker. It was Nick De Angelo, a producer I’d worked with on another show a few years back.

“Where you goin’ in such a rush?” he asked, peering at me over the top of his computer monitor.

“Oh, just to get some lunch,” I lied, uncomfortably shifting on my shoulder the duffel bag that suddenly felt like it weighed seventy five pounds.

“I have something to ask you,” Nick said, a deadly serious look on his face.

He took a deep breath, then said: “Are you the Mole?”

My heart flip flopped. How did he know?

And then I saw that he was laughing, his shoulders shaking, a goofy smile plastered on his face.

He was just giving me shit.

“Yup!” I replied, matching his laughter, pretending to enjoy the ball busting. “You got me!”

But I must not have gotten the tone right. Or my frantic, nervous eyes gave me away. Or maybe he already suspected, and was testing me to see how I reacted. Either way, the laughter faded from his face, replaced with a wry, curious look.

He studied me. When he spoke again, his voice was quieter, more tentative. “No, seriously, though. Is it you?” he asked.

I kept up my fake dumb grin. “I told you, man. You got me!”

As he furrowed his brow, watching me thoughtfully, I turned on my heel and walked as calmly as I could through the doorway.

And it was only at this moment—long past the point when the thought could have done me any good—that the little voice in my head stated what should have been obvious to anyone who wasn’t a moron.

This might have been a terrible idea.

Table of Contents

Prologue: The Beginning of the End for a Middling Cable News Career 1

1 Slacking Your Way to Success and Shame 9

2 I Coulda Been a Contender… 33

3 When Rupert Met Roger 55

4 Paradise by the On-Air Light 73

5 A White Devil in Brooklyn 95

6 Red Bull and Kool-Aid 107

7 Moonwalking into the Light 123

8 Crime Does Pay, But Not Particularly Well 137

9 The Calling 159

10 Radio Days 169

11 Stand and Deliver: Rage, Ridicule, and Sexy Ladies, Twice a Week 187

12 Loofah, Falafel, Let's Call the Whole Thing Off 203

13 I Loved You in A League of Their Own, You Far-Left Loon 219

14 Fox-Flavored Sausage 235

15 I Think He Said the Sheriff Is Near 251

16 Rhymes with "Cat Bit Hazy" 267

17 Take Me Out to the Buffet 285

18 The Mole 299

Epilogue: What Have We Learned? 315

Acknowledgments 321

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Praise for An Atheist in the Foxhole:

An Atheist in the Foxhole mixes work anecdotes with the story of the uncomfortable hours before he was led out of Fox's office… His book isn't a diatribe, and is often funny.” —AP
“Well-written and structured in surprising ways… the material on O'Reilly is interesting … a compelling, detailed look at how cable's top anchor chooses stories and develops his onscreen image.” – Tampa Bay Times

“[Muto shares] laugh-out loud looks inside the Fox newsroom from the O’Reilly/Sean Hannity ego clashes to the is-Palin-really-that-dumb revelations.” —

“Foxhole is a lot of fun…Muto shines is in his vivid descriptions of day-to-day life at Fox.” —New Statesman

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An Atheist in the FOXhole: A Liberal's Eight-Year Odyssey Inside the Heart of the Right-Wing Media 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 43 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You wonder about what really goes on at FOX. This gets you inside the door. Not salacious, but still very revealing. Muto is consistently humble, sometimes apologetic but he shouldn't be. He takes about as balanced an approach as you would think possible, given the bizarre circimstances. I was highly entertained.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book. All the Righties should read the book before giving it a bad review based on their potitics. Very well done and kept me engaged to the end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read.  Very intersting, very funny.  Great new author.   A must read
JustMyTwoCents More than 1 year ago
No Great Revelations about Fox News - Simply an Interesting Tale I was surprised that there were a few people who provided reviews for the book after acknowledging they hadn't read it. For the record, I consider myself a moderate--neither too liberal nor too conservative and while I have watched all the various pundits on Fox News and on MSNBC, I don't tend to follow anyone in particular, because too often the "news" is skewered one way or another to iillicit outrage.Who needs it?There were no great revelations about Fox news or any of the main players, such as Bill O'Reilly. I mean, does anyone doubt he is arrogant and demanding? What I found most interesting about this book was the writing style and self-deprecating humor. I thiink Muto might make a nice fit with the Daily Show or the Colbert Report, albeit kept on a short leash. Jon? Stephen? Are you reading this? All in all this was a fun romp, by a young man who decided wisely or unwisely to Go Rogue.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Whether you love or hate Fox News, this book provides some very entertaining insight into what goes on behind the scenes of a major news network. Well written and easy to read, I blew through this book over a weekend. I just couldn't put it down.
HedgeW More than 1 year ago
The conservatives that dismiss this book without reading it are missing a good read. Joe Muto provides many sly put-downs of naive liberal views, and a number of real compliments to many of those faces on Fox news. Most of the book describes the surprisingly low-budget behind-the-scenes production of the programs, and the very interesting characters (most of whom Joe likes) that make it work. From beginning to end, the book alternates between the final scenes as the search for the mole is on, and flash-backs to the work experiences of Joe rising from new intern to associate producer - the great majority on the work experiences, with the possibility of being caught and possibly dragged down to some unknown dungeon in the sub-basement providing some suspense and a bit of humor. In short, this is not a Michael Moore style castigation of Fox news, but a fascinating look inside at the people who produce the news and commentary, many of whom Joe positively respects.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As an unbiased observer, let me say if you want a good look inside Fox, read this book. However, don't expect it to be a conservative-bashing, liberal-spewing piece (so don't expect an Al Franken style book.) I thoroughly enjoyed it, it was fascinating to get a look behind the scenes of the news channel with the highest ratings, and Muto is a very funny writer. It's obvious that he respects Bill O'Reilly and much of the crew he worked with. I highly recommend this book, whether you abhor Fox News or watch it religiously.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Look forward to reading it. People watch Faux News not to learn something new, but to reinforce what they already believe in. i.e. Obama is a Muslim, Kenyan, etc. The decline of the Republican Party was certainly helped by the clowns at Fox.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I assumed it would be a good read after seeing all of the reviews from the right-wingers...and i was right!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have not actually read this book. However, I've learned from the other reviews that it's appropriate to review a book based on my liberal biases after having only reading the introduction. I don't usually purchase any books that fuel the right/left wing flames because I feel unfulfilled and depressed after reading them, and they have a tendency to only entrench us further in our own beliefs and make it more difficult to find common ground. Having said that, these "scathing," misspelled one-star reviews have done more to fortify my liberalism than this book ever could. They convinced me not only to rate the quality of this book without having read it, but also to read it. FIVE STARS
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
How about sneaking around NBC, CBS,ABC or MSNBC for a few years to find out why they won't cover anytjing that makes progressives squirm- oh, that's right, nobody watches those channels and Soros (Media matters ) and friends won't pay for spying on their own propaganda . I don't care for O'Reilly, but at least FOX has some good reporters, such as Brett Bayer, the top rated news anchor today on any channel.
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Jack_Dee More than 1 year ago
Not as anti-right wing as I would have thought but, a great description of the over-inflated egos at FOX. It would have been more humorous if the liars at FOX were not destroying our country.
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