‘I’m not a very good mole. I’m not good at espionage stuff’

Fox Mole Joe Muto says he tried to leave Fox News “many, many times. …I think CNN must have gotten 20 resumes from me. …I was completely blackballed within the cable news industry after working at FOX News.”

He’s not getting much sympathy on my Facebook wall. Some posts —

Eddie Vega
20 resumes is not a serious job search, unless they were sent to personal contacts at employers with known openings. I sent out 100 resumes in the last six months and got two bites. A poor economy and an increase in qualified job applicants better explain the results.

Dean Miller
‎20 resumes in this economy is squat. Try 106, 4 interviews, two offers. He can’t conclude he was blackballed.

Scott Miller
Lots of people go from FNC to other news outlets, especially “off air” people. Puh-lease. If he thought getting a gig was hard while he was at FNC, he’s gonna find out how hard it is to get a gig after being fired for being a snitch.


HOWARD KURTZ: He was known as the FOX mole, but his secret identity didn’t last long.

Joe Muto, associate producer for Bill O’Reilly making $60,000 a year, taunted his employer with a series of postings on the gossip site Gawker. But FOX tracked him down and fired him in just a couple of days.

I spoke to him earlier from New York.

KURTZ: Joe Muto, welcome.

JOE MUTO, FORMER FOX EMPLOYEE: Thanks for having me, Howard.

KURTZ: After you were caught, you wrote the following, “I am a weasel, a traitor, a sell-out and every bad word you can throw at me.” So you admit to betraying the news organization that was paying you?

MUTO: I — I believe everyone is aware of that at this point, Howard. That’s — yes, that’s true. I broke the code. I broke the code of Omerta, that was within FOX News. And I went public. I didn’t expect — [CONTINUES]

KURTZ: You also — you also, by the way, accepted $5,000 from Gawker to serve as the FOX mole. Does that make you look like more of a weasel?

MUTO: I’m not going to comment on any financial arrangements that I may or may not have had with Gawker. But what this was, Howard — this was a primal scream from a long-time FOX employee who just couldn’t take it anymore and could not take it one more day in that place.

KURTZ: When FOX first confronted you on suspicion that some of these videos had been access from your computer, you denied it?

MUTO: That’s correct.

KURTZ: So, did you think that you would get away with this, or were you half expecting to be fired?

MUTO: I knew after a point that they had me. After certain points, just the evidence was there. They nailed me, you know? I’m not a very good mole. I’m not good at espionage stuff.

KURTZ: All right. We won’t sign you up for the CIA, but FOX says it’s considering legal action against you, and that a crime was committed. Do you feel that you broke any law?

MUTO: I think their legal accusations are completely baseless, and they’re trying to intimidate me into silence because I’m revealing unflattering information about the inner workings of the company. KURTZ: So let’s talk about what you have revealed. Among other things, you wrote that the newsroom is kind of a dreary place. You leaked a video where Sean Hannity was having some friendly banter with Mitt Romney before an interview.

You say that FOX Nation, which is basically an opinion site, runs conservative stories and headlines and has some racist comments in it. Doesn’t seem to amount to all that much.

MUTO: Look, well, originally I could not reveal that much stuff. When I was still anonymous, you know, if I revealed everything I knew, it would have gotten me right away. Now, as it turns out, the digital trail was such that they nailed me anyway.

But the original plan was to sort of leak it out in driblets and maybe eventually I would — some of the more interesting stuff I know would come out later. So —

KURTZ: So, what have you not revealed that you would like to reveal now?

MUTO: That’s going to have to come at a later time.

KURTZ: Is that because you’re saving it for a book deal or something like that?

MUTO: I don’t — I don’t know what I’m going to do next, Howard. I’m still weighing a lot of options. You know — that’s — I have seen it speculated in the press that that’s what I was doing from the beginning. That’s — that was not the plan from the beginning.

KURTZ: So, Joe, if you felt so uncomfortable with your situation at FOX News, why stay there and draw a paycheck for eight years?

MUTO: No, I tried to leave many, many times. I sent out dozens and dozens of resumes. I think CNN must have gotten 20 resumes from me.

And the truth of the matter is I was black balled within the industry that people hiring managers see FOX News on your resume, and they say this guy is conservative, this guy is a nut. He’s — we don’t want him in our organization. I was — I was completely blackballed within the cable news industry after working at FOX News.

KURTZ: You say you don’t want to reveal anything more now, because I want to get a sense, because, you know, you acknowledge being a traitor and weasel. So, obviously, you felt it was justified because you felt you had information to reveal. But it sounds like you were just uncomfortable with what you see as FOX News’ conservative leanings.

MUTO: That’s correct. I think there is a lot of — as has obviously been stated repeatedly in the media, there’s a lot of right wing bias at FOX, and the way they’re slanting the news, I just couldn’t take one more election cycle where they’re on complete attack mode against the Democratic candidate. KURTZ: Were you conflicted at all in deciding to act like what you describe as a weasel and a traitor — did any part of you say, you know what, I should just judge quit and I shouldn’t do this and I shouldn’t be a mole?

MUTO: I have a lot of co-workers still at FOX who I’m sure are reeling from this. I don’t — I’m not a sociopath, Howard. I don’t want to make it sound like I worked there for eight years with a chip on my shoulder, and I hated everyone. There’s a lot of, you know, really nice, you know, people who I really like and respect. So, those people, if I hurt any of them, I apologize to them.

But I felt the need to speak out because my story — my story had to be told. I couldn’t — I couldn’t be in that building one day longer without, you know, exploding.

KURTZ: Joe, now that you have done this and acted as a mole against FOX News, do you expect to get another job in cable news?

MUTO: Well, I have been passing my resume out around here. No takers yet.

I think it’s pretty safe to say my career in cable news is over. I don’t — I don’t foresee anyone outside of current TV hiring me, but I’m looking into new opportunities. I — that’s — I don’t know what the future holds, but I’m looking forward to some new opportunities.

KURTZ: All right. Joe Muto, thanks very much.

MUTO: Thank you, Howard.



  1. Dan, I agree with you about the bluster and anger in my earlier post. A bit heavy on both, and as such a fine illustration of why it’s not a good idea not to unspool harsh commentary after a dinner party on Sunday night.

    The tone was off, and the Fox mole definitely overdoes the victim-of-Fox bit. Kurtz, on the other hand, still gets under my skin. Not just for the clear and present conflict of interest he presented during his years as CNN star/journalist covering CNN, but also for using his show to promote the work of one of his wife’s p.r. clients. And maybe she deserved the acclaim, but that’s irrelevant. He obviously should have identified the potential conflict and handed the story to someone else. But he didn’t, even as he presents himself as a keen analyst on, and at times fiery critic of other peoples’, journalistic ethics.

    I think that’s curious. Toss in a couple of glasses of wine and it makes me all gangsta-mad. Throw in some falafel and I could go work for O’Reilly.

  2. Spartacus said:

    This was an employment version of suicide by cop. There is a reason why Zorro wears a mask. For a mole to be successful he must disguise himself. He must write in a voice that is different from the way he normally writes or speaks. He must not reveal information that can be simply traced to one or a few sources. He makes all of these mistakes.