Fox News Identifies and Reportedly Confronts Gawker Mole

Credit: Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images.

Well, that was quick. Less than 24 hours after Gawker introduced "The Fox Mole," an anonymous columnist for the news and gossip site and current employee of Fox News Channel, Fox said it's figured out who was leaking inside information and is now "exploring legal options."

A representative for Fox News told that they've identified the mole. In statement to Mediaite, a Fox News rep said "we're exploring legal options at this time."

Regardless, the mole's still at it. In a post on Gawker this afternoon, the mole wrote, "So Fox's PR team has been telling people that they have 'found' me and are presently 'exploring legal options.' If Fox has smoked me out, it's news to me. I'm still here. Back to work."

In response to that, a Fox rep told Mediaite, "We know who it is."

Tonight he revealed his name, Joe Muto, in another Gawker post, entitled "Hi Roger. It's Me, Joe: The Fox Mole."

And Fox reportedly confronted him about incident as he explained in the blog post:

"Two hours ago I was called into a meeting with Dianne Brandi, the Fox News Executive Vice President of Legal and Business Affairs and suspended indefinitely… with pay, oddly enough. They nailed me." he wrote. "In the end, it was the digital trail that gave me away. They knew that someone, using my computer login, had accessed the sources for two videos that ended up on Gawker over the past few weeks. They couldn't prove it entirely, but I was pretty much the only suspect."

Muto said he first denied it, "which is why they didn't fire me outright."

Muto's first column which debuted Tuesday, promised to deliver privileged information from Fox News' headquarters. Its first post included previously unseen video of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney discussing horseback riding with Fox News host Sean Hannity. The second post featured photos of the company's bathrooms and a description of the "dreary" newsroom, where staffers are "constant worrying about an infestation from bedbugs, mice or some other vermin."

In Tuesday's column, Muto explained that after years working at the conservative news network, "the final straw for me came last year." The main point of contention: The Fox Nation, a news aggregator, described as "an unholy mashup of the Drudge Report, the Huffington Post and a Klan meeting."

Muto knew the end was coming but wanted to go down in flames: "I am leaving. Sooner rather than later, I'm guessing. But I can't just leave quietly, can I? Where's the fun in that?"

Conde Nast dealt with its own mole last year, when a staffer at the magazine publisher's headquarters launched a Twitter account dedicated to real and imagined musings from inside the building's elevators. @Condeelevator amassed more than 80,000 followers in a matter of days, but the person behind it shut down the account before management found them, tweeting "Love my job. Better stop."

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