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Fox News executive admits his attempt to link Obama to socialism was a lie

By David Edwards
Tuesday, March 29, 2011 10:39 EDT
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During the 2008 presidential campaign one Fox News executive repeatedly tried to smear Barack Obama with charges of “socialism.”

Liberal watchdog group Media Matters has uncovered audio that indicates Fox News Washington managing editor Bill Sammon was just engaging in what he called “mischievous speculation.”

In 2009, Sammon told an audience aboard Mediterranean cruise sponsored by a right-wing college that his 2008 attempt to link Obama to socialism was “a premise that privately I found rather far-fetched.”

“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 quote, ‘spread the wealth around,’” Sammon said. “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.”

During the 2008 campaign, the then-Washington deputy managing editor repeatedly suggested that Obama had socialist tendencies.

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

In early February, Media Matters obtained an email where Sammon offered talking points to Fox News staff, linking Obama to socialism and Marxism during the 2008 campaign.

“If Fox News really cares about its ‘reporting,’ they will fire DC exec Bill Sammon over this,” former MSNBC anchor David Shuster tweeted Tuesday.

“These remarks, unearthed by the liberal advocacy group Media Matters, raise the question of whether Sammon, who oversees Washington news coverage for Fox News, was deliberately trying to sabotage the Democratic presidential candidate,” The Daily Beast’s Howard Kurtz noted.

In another e-mail obtained by Media Matters, Sammon told his staff to downplay the importance of climate science that showed the world was getting warmer.

Additional emails showed that Sammon asked his news department to refer to the public option as the “government run option” because polls showed the phrase “government option” was opposed by the public.

Perhaps not coincidentally, a poll gauging public trust in TV news found that PBS was the most trusted name in news, while trust in Fox News dropped significantly over years prior.

This audio is from Media Matters, uploaded March 29, 2008

— with earlier reports

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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