Houston reporter Ivory Hecker, for FOX 26 KRIV-TV, was live on the scene reporting on a "heatwave across Texas" that caused an air-conditioning unit to break down when she opened her broadcast with a surprise on-air announcement that she would soon be a whistleblower for Project Veritas.
“I want to let you, the viewers, know that FOX Corp. has been muzzling me to keep certain information from you, the viewer. And from what I’m gathering, I’m 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 viewer. I found a non-profit journalism group called Project Veritas who is going to help put that out...”
After the on-air announcement, she told Project Veritas Journalist Christian Hartsock on the scene, "They send a reporter out there, they don't like what the person said, and then they turn around and punish the reporter. Does that make any sense? No. But I guess I'm supposed to know the narrative and stick with it instead of sticking with the facts."
Veritas' James O'Keefe called the 42 seconds of Hecker's live announcement "legendary." Being banned from Twitter himself, he has called out to his #VeritasArmy of supporters to "Break the matrix" by tweeting the clip. A Telegram post confirmed that Hecker has provided secret recordings and that a release was forthcoming.
Hecker has since been terminated from her job, according to Daily Beast reporting. Veritas uploaded a video featuring a recording of what took place that morning in a call that she received from Lee Meier, Assistant News Director at the Fox affiliate.
Then at 5 PM Eastern, a video was uploaded with a recording of Hecker calling a person identified as Tracey Rivers, Director of Human Resources for the network. The voice asks to schedule a time for Hecker's equipment to be picked up and indicates that is the only authorization she has. Hecker seeks reasoning for the request.
Hecker's profile page at the affiliate network's official site has been removed. She has a GiveSendGo fundraising account for crowdsourced financial support that has been set up for her by her mother.*
At 6 PM Eastern, the main feature of the release dropped, including a video with undercover recordings and an O'Keefe interview with Hecker.
"What's happening within FOX Corp. is an operation of prioritizing corporate interests above the viewer's interests and therefore operating in a deceptive way... viewers are being deceived... from my experience, my newsroom... groups everyone into racial groups... a lot of our meetings are about... 'Well, how does this play to black people?'"
Assistant News Director Lee Meier, who is in the call video above, is featured here saying:
"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... if I know our numbers are tanking from 5 to 6 [PM]... I may say... Bitcoin for a poor African American audience at 5, it's probably not going to play. That's a choice I'm making. An editorial choice."
To this, Hecker says:
"Research is done to study... what sort of demographic groups watch each newscast, and it was found that, according to her... some of our biggest audience at 5 is poor black people, and she has decided that poor black people don't care about Bitcoin."
Transitioning to other biases, a clip of a doctor from the White Coat Summit press conference featuring Dr. Stella Immanuel MD discussing hydroxychloroquine is shown in which she says, "America, you don't need to be afraid. COVID has a cure... If they put everybody on hydroxychloroquine right now for those with early disease... And those that want to get prevention, I'm telling you it will stop COVID in its tracks in 30 days."
"That story went viral," Hecker says, "The next morning at FOX 26, someone tipped me off, this doctor's from Houston, this is our local story... everyone noticed how it was getting censored across social media platforms like we'd never seen before..." She mentioned that the Senior Vice President of the affiliate discussed that the censorship was a result of President Trump's saying that hydroxychloroquine works.
Hecker stated she made a social media post about "censorship itself," saying, "We just witnessed unprecedented censorship across the social media monopoly." She said the moment became a turning point for her and that "FOX came at my throat for standing up against censorship." She further describes, "if you accidentally step outside the narrative, if you don't sense what that narrative is... there will be grave consequences..."
A story she was assigned at the time about COVID-19 treatments at the local United Memorial Medical Center came with tips from viewers and led her to pursue the hydroxychloroquine angle. One doctor she interviewed, Dr. Joseph Varon, Chief of Critical Care at the hospital, said, "...Yes, we have used it. I mean, we know that it's a drug that has been politicized up to the wazoo. We've used it. We use it with good success."
Hecker concludes, "I just wasn't supposed to ask that question," even though she says Vice President and News Director Susan Schiller and News Director Meier sent her to cover the story before ultimately shutting it down.
Hecker captures a recording of a voice identified as Schiller saying, "You need to cease and desist posting about hydroxychloroquine," and argues that the story isn't adequately sourced with available studies, to which Hecker disagrees. Hecker says that even though she has "never to this day advocated for that drug," FOX has said,"'you've got to stop being biased.'" Hecker adds:
"This is the opposite of catering to the audience. The audience was craving answers, and then they are saying that the news is not covering it at all. Does that build trust in the news? No, that alienates the viewers. They are left to just assume the news must be in on some sort of conspiracy because they're not answering our questions on what's really going on."
She recorded Schiller saying, "Everything's going to be under the microscope, you're not posting anything without Susan or I signing off on it," and Meier saying, "It's not just about the viewers, it's about what our CEO [Chief Executive Officer] reads, it's about what our GM [General Manager] reads." Hecker is asked what that means, to which she responds, "Corporate values are above the viewers' interests."
The released video also reveals secret recordings of other FOX affiliate employees made by undercover Veritas journalists regarding vaccines. When asked, "How come you guys are the 'all vaccine, all the time' channel?" a veteran beat photographer at KRIV-TV describes how rookie producers regurgitate stories right out of college and calls the vaccine story "low hanging fruit."
Hecker says, "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."
A Veritas journalist received an undercover recording of a Sales Coordinator and a Promo Producer at the network describing the financial reasons that many commercials are about COVID-19, calling it a "bidding war" where the ad space goes to the highest bidder. Hecker says:
"Vaccines are a potential moneymaker for FOX... as a viewer you've got to look at who is advertising on this TV station, and you've got to realize that, surely this TV station doesn't want to hurt its advertisers... I looked up the Ad Council and... some of their biggest donors are the vaccine companies... another one of their biggest donors is FOX Corp... so Ad Council would be paying FOX after FOX gave a tax-deductible donation to Ad Council?"
O'Keefe asks Hecker when interviewing her for the video, "Why are you doing this?" She replies, offering advice to other reporters who might do as she has done:
"It affects the viewers... the viewers are being deceived by a carefully crafted narrative in some stories... some of these stories have an incredible slant, and if you accidentally step outside it... they try to internally destroy you."
"At this point, I want out. 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."
"You need to stand for something or fall for anything."
*Updated to reflect Hecker's mother set up the GiveSendGo account.