Thursday, December 09, 2010

Leaked email shows more proof of Fox News’s dishonesty

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Faux News: We Distort · You Comply

It’s always astonishing to hear people honestly claim that Fox News is anything like a normal and reputable news broadcasting channel. The fact is that it has long since morphed into little more (and no less) than a political propaganda machine for the Right, and now, we have even more evidence to support this blindingly obvious fact. Here’s a leaked insider memo from Fox News’s Washington managing editor, Bill Sammon, wherein he encourages the channel’s talking heads posing as anchors to mirror right-wing talking points and slant their language in an effort to further mount public opinion against the healthcare reform debate that raged last fall:

From: Sammon, Bill
Sent: Tuesday, October 27, 2009 8:23 AM
To: 054 -FNSunday; 169 -SPECIAL REPORT; 069 -Politics; 030 -Root (FoxNews.Com); 036 -FOX.WHU; 050 -Senior Producers; 051 -Producers
Subject: friendly reminder: let's not slip back into calling it the "public option"

1)      Please use the term "government-run health insurance" or, when brevity is a concern, "government option," whenever possible.

2)      When it is necessary to use the term "public option" (which is, after all, firmly ensconced in the nation's lexicon), use the qualifier "so-called," as in "the so-called public option."

3)      Here's another way to phrase it: "The public option, which is the government-run plan."

4)      When newsmakers and sources use the term "public option" in our stories, there's not a lot we can do about it, since quotes are of course sacrosanct.

Media Matters adds a bit of background info on the intended and resultant effects of slanting the language in this manner:

Two months prior to Sammon's 2009 memo, Republican pollster Frank Luntz appeared on Sean Hannity's August 18 Fox News program. Luntz scolded Hannity for referring to the "public option" and encouraged Hannity to use "government option" instead.

Luntz argued that "if you call it a 'public option,' the American people are split," but that "if you call it the 'government option,' the public is overwhelmingly against it." Luntz explained that the program would be "sponsored by the government" and falsely claimed that it would also be "paid for by the government."

"You know what," Hannity replied, "it's a great point, and from now on, I'm going to call it the government option."

I would dearly love to see the usual Defenders of the Fox swing in and tell us all how Fox is still reputable, or that it still isn’t any worse than any other cable news channel, or even that it’s only the conservative equivalent of the left-leaning MSNBC. We’ve had more than enough incontrovertible evidence revealed to us over the years – not to mention the transparently biased and consistently dishonest rhetoric that passes for news and commentary on Fox – to settle the issue definitively. Other channels may present tangible political leanings, but they are either perfectly open and honest about it, or they at least don’t let their leanings present any disreputable slant in their journalism. Not so with Fox.

Fox News is not a news channel. It is a political organization designed and operated to give the strongest voice possible to the Right, particularly whichever stance the GOP happens to be taken at the moment, whilst drowning out and demonizing all other points of view, especially from the Left. I really wouldn’t have a problem with this – anyone can believe and say whatever they like, after all – if only it weren’t all conducted with such profound levels of dishonest hackery and under the cloak of fairness and balance.