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

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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.

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New on NewsReal – Shock: Media Matters Catches Political Talker Talking Politics

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Discussing perceived political angles to tragedies, especially as they’re happening, is always touchy. Even if there is a valid policy observation to be made, you’re opening yourself up to ready-made accusations of insensitivity, partisanship, and opportunism. So it should come as little surprise that the leftist smear merchants at Media Matters are raking Sean Hannity over the coals for a “five-minute Obama-bashing session” during his coverage of the disaster in Japan:

HANNITY: Apparently, the president was groggy when he answered that call, because on Saturday, hours after the quake struck, he went golfing. And later that evening he attended a dinner with members of the mainstream Obama-mania media. And today, the president spent his afternoon filling out his NCAA brackets for ESPN […]

DANA PERINO, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He probably feels like if he would succumb to all the pressure, to comment on everything, he wouldn’t have time even to go to the bathroom. But what surprises me is –

HANNITY: You mean he wouldn’t have time to shoot hoops?

PERINO: Well — shoot hoops, play golf — but the other thing is, remember, from the communication standpoint what they’ve done. Today, he did three interviews, with regional news outlets in key battle ground states for 2012. I mean, they are starting very, very early. He still has yet I believe to do an interview with NHK which is the main news outlet for Japan. How reassuring it would be for the Japanese to hear from the president right now.

Another communications points, Steve, is in January, when Representative Gabrielle Giffords was shot, that morning President Obama put out a photograph from him in the White House situation room, even after we knew it was lone gunman, I mean, the situation room?

And then Saturday, their only communications was a radio address on the Paycheck Fairness Act, which had obviously been taped days before and they’re not going to change it, and his video of him playing golf.

On the one hand, I don’t want to see conservatives taking this line of attack too far. As we’ve discussed before, presidents are never really off-duty. And while it certainly doesn’t speak well of Obama’s PR team that nobody thought the president’s current schedule of sports, photo ops, and vacations would look improper when juxtaposed against foreign deaths and devastation, the fact is that there’s just not much for the President of the United States’ to do about overseas natural disasters.

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New at NewsReal – Media Matters Grasps at Straws Trying to Pit Hannity Against Bush

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Attempting to paint one political opponent as undermining another is an especially tempting line of political attack, sometimes so tempting that a propagandist will settle for the most contorted, threadbare argument to that effect. Such is the case with Media Matters’ latest attack on Sean Hannity. Seizing upon Hannity’s latest interview with GOP Congressman Steve King about Congress’ current tax bickering, Media Matters claims to have caught Hannity admitting that the Bush tax cuts were “madness”:

Speaking with Rep. Steve King about the estate tax, Hannity made the following complaint:

HANNITY: If you died last year it was 45 percent, if you die this year it’s zero percent, if you die next year, it could be 55 percent: Only Washington could think of this madness. 

That’s so true. Only in Washington could such a crazy plan be hatched. Only in the Bush White House, to be specific. Bush, and a Republican led Congress chose to have the Bush tax cuts “sunset” on the last day of 2010, largely because Republicans neglected to propose any way to pay for the hugely expensive cuts, and letting them expire after nine years mitigated the enormous price-tag that accompanied these cuts (because price estimates are calculated over a 10-year period). 

First, our leftist friends apparently hope none of their readers will stop to think about what a sunset provision is. Sunset provisions set a date by which a measure will expire, unless it’s reauthorized. Note well the last part: politicians know when something is going to happen well in advance, and have to act to decide whether or not to do anything about it.

Read the rest at NewsRealBlog.

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

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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.