By DAVID BAUDER
NEW YORK (AP) — It took Fox News Channel less than 24 hours to find — and fire — an associate producer who began writing a column critical of his employers for the news blog Gawker.
The network said Joe Muto, who worked on “The O’Reilly Factor” and said he had been working at Fox News since 2004, was identified and fired. Fox said it was “continuing to explore legal recourse against Mr. Muto and possibly others.”
On Tuesday Gawker posted Muto’s initial column, written anonymously. It was primarily critical of a Fox website that he called “an unholy mashup of the Drudge Report, the Huffington Post and a Klan meeting.” He also posted a previously unseen video of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney chatting with Sean Hannity about his family’s horses and other things.
[iframe http://xfinitytv.comcast.net/tv/The-O-Reilly-Factor/2924/2219896809/Thu%2C-Apr-5%2C-2012/embed 580 476]
Muto outed himself the next day, saying his bosses had tracked him down. The company found that someone using his computer login had accessed two videos that were posted on Gawker over the past few weeks, he wrote.
"I am a weasel, a traitor, a sell-out and every bad word you can throw at me," Muto wrote. "But as of today I am free, and I am ready to tell my story, which I wasn't able to fully do for the previous 36 hours."
He promised to be writing “much, much more.”
A phone listed under Muto's name was disconnected on Thursday. Gawker's editor-in-chief, A.J. Daulerio, did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
Gawker posted a picture of Muto with a photo of Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes on the desk behind him. Ailes, asked about the mole at an event sponsored by The Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday, described Gawker as a "pornographic website."
“I don’t care if they have a mole because we’re not doing anything wrong,” Ailes said.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.