New on NewsReal – No, Bill Sammon Didn’t Lie About Thinking Obama Was a Socialist (Which He Totally Is)

My latest NewsRealBlog post:

There’s only so much mileage the Left can get out of vehemently denying that President Barack Obama is a socialist. For best propagandistic results, it’s ideal to highlight people on the Right who allegedly admit the same thing (and if their remarks can be used to embarrass a hated cable news channel in the process, so much the better).

Case in point: relying upon Media Matters research, Howard Kurtz’s latest on the Daily Beast highlights recent remarks made by Fox News Channel’s Washington Managing Editor Bill Sammon during a 2009 cruise hosted by Hillsdale College (my alma mater):

“Last year, candidate Barack Obama stood on a sidewalk in Toledo, Ohio, and first let it slip to Joe the Plumber that he wanted to ‘spread the wealth around.’ At that time, I have to admit that I went on TV on Fox News and publicly engaged in what I guess was some rather mischievous speculation about whether Barack Obama really advocated socialism, a premise that privately I found rather far-fetched.”

That he did—on several occasions.

On Oct. 14, 2008, Sammon said on the air that Obama’s “spread the wealth” remark “is red meat when you’re talking to conservatives and you start talking about spread the wealth around. That is tantamount to socialism.”

On Oct. 21, he told Greta Van Susteren: “I have read Barack Obama’s books pretty carefully, and he in his own words talks about being drawn to Marxists… Now all this stuff’s coming out about whether he’s a socialist. I don’t know why anyone is surprised by it, because if you read his own words and his sort of, you know, orientation coming up as a liberal through college and a young man, it’s not a huge shock.”

Sammon, a former Washington Times reporter, also made sure his troops got out the word. On Oct. 27, he sent an email to staffers highlighting what he described as “Obama’s references to socialism, liberalism, Marxism and Marxists” in his 1995 autobiography, Dreams From My Father.

Sammon’s response:

In an interview, Sammon says his reference to “mischevious speculation” was “my probably inartful way of saying, ‘Can you believe how far this thing has come?’” The socialism question indeed “struck me as a far-fetched idea” in 2008. “I considered it kind of a remarkable notion that we would even be having the conversation.” He doesn’t regret repeatedly raising it on the air because, Sammon says, “it was a main point of discussion on all the channels, in all the media”—and by 2009 he was “astonished by how the needle had moved.”


In defense of Sammon’s ethics, raising a subject on the air and speculating about it, even “mischievously,” aren’t the same as reaching or arguing for a firm conclusion about the subject. Indeed, if you watch the full clip the Oct. 14 quote comes from, Sammon’s not even arguing for the Obama-as-socialist charge—he’s just objectively analyzing 2008 rival John McCain’s strategic interest in pressing the issue.

Read the rest on NewsRealBlog.

New on NewsReal – Media Matters Incites a Word War with Fox News Over Term "Public Option"

My latest NewsRealBlog post:

Language is a powerful tool. Those who define what words mean (or are at least believed to mean) can drastically influence our government and culture. According to the Left’s lexicon, killing is “choice,” racial discrimination is “affirmative action,” thought control is “sensitivity training,” and property confiscation is “economic justice.” But does the Right play similar propaganda games?

At the Daily Beast, Howard Kurtz seems to think so. Today he reports on a “new” Media Matters attack on Fox News.

As the health-care debate was heating up in the summer of 2009, Republican pollster Frank Luntz offered Sean Hannity some advice. 

Luntz, who counseled the GOP on how to sell the 1994 Contract With America, told the Fox News host to stop using President Obama’s preferred term for a key provision.

“If you call it a public option, the American people are split,” he explained. “If you call it the government option, the public is overwhelmingly against it.”

“A great point,” Hannity declared. “And from now on, I’m going to call it the government option, because that’s what it is.”  

On Oct. 27, the day after Senate Democrats introduced a bill with a public insurance option from which states could opt out, Bill Sammon, a Fox News vice president and Washington managing editor, sent the staff a memo. Sammon is a former Washington Times reporter. 

“Please use the term ‘government-run health insurance,’ or, when brevity is a concern, ‘government option,’ whenever possible,” the memo said.





The possibility that Sammon’s motives were partisan and that he was trying to influence Fox’s viewers against ObamaCare can’t be completely dismissed—“government option” polls the way Republicans want it to, and as Kurtz points out, Sammon is a right-leaning commentator who wrote several conservative books. Accordingly, I have scant patience for Sammon objecting, “Have I said things where I take a conservative view? Give me specifics.”

That said, there’s an obvious flip side that Kurtz and Media Matters ignore.

Read the rest at NewsRealBlog.