LA Times slams ‘unacceptable level of bias’ at Fox News

By David Edwards
Monday, December 20, 2010 9:10 EDT
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The second largest newspaper in the US devoted text on Friday to admonishing the partisan Fox News network for bias in its hard news programs.

After a series of leaked memos revealed that one Fox News boss tried to “slant” the news, The Los Angeles Times suggested that the conservative network should stop calling itself an objective news source.

As December began, liberal watchdog group Media Matters released an e-mail showing that Fox News’ Washington managing editor instructed the news department to refer to the health care reform public option as the “government option.”

The e-mail indicated that Bill Sammon sent the request after Republican pollster Frank Luntz said that polls show that the term “government option” was opposed by the public.

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

This alone didn’t bother the Times editorial writers. “The first time Media Matters unveiled a leaked e-mail from Bill Sammon, Fox News’ Washington managing editor, it was hardly worthy of mention,” they wrote.

But a second leaked e-mail where Sammon told reporters to cast doubt on proven climate science, got the editorial staff’s attention.

“[A] second intercepted missive from Sammon is quite a bit more troubling,” they wrote. The e-mail “suggests an unacceptable level of bias.”

In the e-mail, Sammon told reporters to not report rising temperatures “without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question.”

Sammon issued the instructions less than 15 minutes after Fox News correspondent Wendell Goler noted that the United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization announced that 2000-2009 was “on track to be the warmest [decade] on record.”

“[O]nly a crank would deny the underlying temperature data that show the Earth getting warmer — records compiled by independent stations around the world, combined with satellite measurements and confirmed by observations of rising sea levels, vanishing glaciers and other inputs — because to do so is to deny material and measurable facts,” the editorial continued.

“Instructing reporters to treat such facts as controversial is like telling them to question the laws of gravity when discussing plane crashes. The only reason for doing it is to further a partisan agenda, in this case an attempt to cast doubt on climate science in order to fend off government efforts to limit greenhouse gases.”

“Fox should either come clean about this and crack down on such partisanship in its news ranks, or it should stop pretending to be an objective news source,” they concluded.

David Edwards
David Edwards
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
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