The local television news reporter who revealed live on the air that she planned to expose her bosses at Fox 26 KRIV-TV in Houston for allegedly ‘muzzling’ her has released recordings that she she says prove her censorship claims.
Reporter Ivory Hecker recorded conversations with two of her supervisors at the local station, which were released on Tuesday by Project Veritas, in which they warned her off certain subjects.
The conversations include warnings to stop mentioning hydroxychloroquine, the controversial generic drug that Donald Trump touted as a possible treatment for COVID-19, and warning her that ‘poor African Americans’ don’t care about coverage of Bitcoin.
Hecker accused station management of catering to top advertisers, including the CDC, rather that pursing the unvarnished truth on certain matters, saying massive ad spending had driven a push to advocate for COVID-19 vaccines in news coverage.
‘It affects the viewers, that’s why I’m doing this. The viewers are being deceived by a carefully crafted narrative in some stories,’ Hecker told Project Veritas. ‘I want out of this narrative news-telling, of this corruption.’
In a statement to DailyMail.com, a Fox 26 spokesperson blasted Hecker as a ‘disgruntled former employee’ and claimed the secret recordings used ‘selective editing’ to misrepresent newsroom bosses.
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Reporter Ivory Hecker recorded conversations with two of her supervisors at Fox 26 KRIV-TV in Houston, saying they show newsroom bias under pressure from advertisers
The secret recordings include calls with two of Hecker’s KRIV supervisors, Vice President and News Director Susan Schiller (left), and Assistant News Director Lee Meier (right)
‘FOX 26 adheres to the highest editorial standards of accuracy and impartiality,’ the station spokesperson said.
‘This incident involves nothing more than a disgruntled former employee seeking publicity by promoting a false narrative produced through selective editing and misrepresentation,’ the station added.
In releasing the secret recordings, Hecker slammed her former employers, claiming the Houston news station doesn’t serve its viewers.
‘Fox Corp is an operation of prioritizing corporate interests above the viewers’ interest and therefore operating in a deceptive way,’ Hecker said in the interview with James O’Keefe, the founder of Project Veritas, a conservative watchdog group that targets perceived bias and hypocrisy in the U.S. media.
Fox Corporation owns and operates KRIV-TV through its subsidiary Fox Broadcasting Company. Fox Corp also owns the cable news giant Fox News, however the cable channel’s editorial operations and business are separate from the local news stations the company owns.
The secret recordings released on Tuesday include phone calls with two of Hecker’s KRIV supervisors, Vice President and News Director Susan Schiller, and Assistant News Director Lee Meier.
The recordings are edited and do not provide the full context of the conversations, but provide enough to make clear the editorial decisions being articulated by the newsroom leaders.
In one call, Meier tells Hecker: ‘I have passed on Bitcoin stories by almost every single reporter … Bitcoin for a poor African American audience at five, it’s probably not going to play’
In one call, Meier tells Hecker: ‘I have passed on Bitcoin stories by almost every single reporter for our five o’clock audience, because that’s not our five o’clock audience.’
‘Bitcoin for a poor African American audience at five, it’s probably not going to play. That’s a choice I’m making, an editorial choice,’ Meier adds.
Hecker also spoke at length about editorial pushback against her reporting on social media censorship of a Houston medical doctor, Stella Immanuel, who had touted hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19 last summer.
As yet, no controlled, randomized studies have show hydroxychloroquine effective as a COVID treatment, though observational studies and anecdotes have suggested its promise.
Hecker said that her initial report about the Immanuel incident was well received by her bosses, but a follow up post on social media decrying censorship was met with a harsh reprimand from Schiller.
‘You need to cease and desist posting about hydroxychloroquine,’ Schiller says in one clip of a secret recording.
‘In my opinion you failed as a reporter, to not know more, if you were going to post about hydrochloroquine — hydroxychloroquine — that you didn’t look it up, and look at the latest post, the latest research about it.’
Schiller delivered a harsh reprimand after Hecker made a social media post lamenting social media censorship of a Houston doctor who touted hydroxychloroquine
Stella Immanuel (above) shot to fame last year in a video touting a dubious COVID-19 cure, and Hecker says she was reprimanded for her reporting on the incident
‘Vaccines are a potential moneymaker for Fox. I mean, that’s some advertising,’ Hecker said, accusing her employer of bending news coverage to please advertisers
Schiller then accused Hecker of not being aware of new research on the controversial drug, and the reporter protested that she was aware and had referenced it in her report.
Hecker told Project Veritas that she believes a tangled web of pressure from advertisers and young, inexperienced producers played into an alleged biased coverage of COVID treatments and vaccines.
‘The vaccine seems to be working great for most people, but the fact that they are choosing to avoid any negative press about it … they’re not going and looking at viewers’ legitimate concerns,’ Hecker said.
‘If you want to get vaccinated that’s great. If you don’t want to get vaccinated, that’s your personal choice. But to use the venue of news to try to convince you to do something with your life — that was the journalism school definition of propaganda,’ she added.
In addition to the secret recordings made by Hecker, Project Veritas released undercover video shot by its agents showing a KRIV ad sales coordinator.
The sales coordinator, who appears to be in a bar with coworkers, was captured discussing the CDC’s massive advertising spending.
Ivory Hecker was introduced to report on sweltering weather for Fox 26 Houston on Monday when she interrupted her on-air piece to announce she was secretly recording her bosses
‘This is with any station, I’m not just going to say Fox 26,’ the sales coordinator says in response to the person secretly filming. ‘Yeah they are spending money, they are spending money because they can… they in the pocket, you know they’re there.’
Hecker suggested that massive ad spending by the Ad Council and public health authorities was influencing news coverage of vaccines.
‘Vaccines are a potential moneymaker for Fox. I mean, that’s some advertising. The vaccines, they need to be advertised somewhere, they can be advertised on Fox, and Fox gets paid for that,’ she said.
‘I’m so horrified at what the news business has stooped to,’ she said. ‘I want out of the corruption, I want to tell true stories without fear of whether it fits the corporate narrative.’
Earlier on Tuesday, Hecker told The Daily Beast that she was terminated by the station management.
The firing on Tuesday comes a day after Hecker went rogue and announced live on air that she’s been secretly recording her bosses and will reveal all through Project Veritas.
Earlier in the day, Project Veritas posted an audio recording in which she was informed of her suspension ‘effective immediately’ by Lee Meier, the assistant news director at KRIV-TV, and that the situation was ‘pending further review.’
In a Twitter post, Project Veritas posted audio of the phone call between Hecker and Meier. ‘I wanted to call you and let you know that you are suspended, effective immediately,’ Meier tells Hecker in the recorded audio
In a Twitter post, Project Veritas posted audio of the phone call between Hecker and Meier.
‘I wanted to call you and let you know that you are suspended, effective immediately,’ Meier tells Hecker in the recorded audio.
Meier then adds: ‘Pending further review.’
‘OK,’ Hecker responds.
Meier then says: ‘I would ask you not to come to the station, OK?’
‘OK,’ Hecker says in response.
‘Alright, and we will be in touch,’ Meier says.
‘OK, sounds good,’ Hecker says.
‘OK, thank you,’ Meier says.
‘OK, bye,’ Hecker replies, ending the conversation.
After Hecker went rogue on Monday’s broadcast, stunned colleagues in the studio made no reference to her announcement of the pending release of secret recordings
‘I have been longing to part ways with this strange, slightly unhinged corporation since last August when I realized what they were,’ she told The Daily Beast, which was the first to report her termination.
‘The piece with Project Veritas doesn’t touch what they did. Fox 26 knows I’m fearless.’
Hecker said that she isn’t concerned about career repercussions.
‘I have zero interest in working for another corporation,’ the now-fired television news reporter said.
‘They all toe the same line.’
Hecker said that she rejected an offer to join the company’s top-rated cable news giant Fox News.
‘I would turn down Fox News,’ she said.
‘They wanted to bring me up to the network.
‘I met a lot of executives there and I don’t want to talk to them anymore.
‘It came from one of the top executives there that what I needed to succeed was to get in line with the narrative.’
DailyMail.com has reached out to Fox News seeking comment.
The controversy was ignited when Hecker was introduced to report on sweltering weather for Fox 26 Houston on Monday when she prefaced her on-air piece with a bombshell for her employer.
‘Before we get to that story, I want to let you, the viewers, know that Fox Corp. has been muzzling me to keep certain information from you, the viewers,’ Hecker said. ‘And from what I’m gathering, I am not the only reporter being subjected to this.’
‘I am going to be releasing some recordings about what goes on behind the scenes at Fox, because it applies to you, the viewers,’ she added. ‘I found a non-profit journalism group called Project Veritas that is going to help put that out tomorrow, so tune in then.’
Hecker’s Instagram and Twitter pages don’t reveal any particularly striking points of view, she appears to be fan of exercise and playing the guitar
A recent post from Hecker’s Instagram page
The 32-year-old then continued onto her report on the recent bad weather and power outages in Houston before handing back to her colleagues in the studio who made no reference to what she had said.
Hecker’s Twitter and Instagram pages don’t reveal any particularly striking points of view on controversial topics.
She is a general reporter, covering various news stories, including about the coronavirus pandemic, murders, missing people and storms.
Project Veritas is known for its secret recordings targeting the media establishment, including ‘stings’ carried out on the New York Times, CNN and the Washington Post.
Recently Project Veritas has spoken to Facebook whistleblowers who claim the social network has been censoring vaccine skeptics during the pandemic.
The founder of Project Veritas, James O’Keefe, even appeared on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show to promote the story, revealing dossiers which he said showed Facebook was testing a ‘beta’ version of its algorithm to smash anti-vaxxers.
Fox has been happy to watch O’Keefe go after its broadcasting rivals, but now finds itself in the spotlight.