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Patti Ann Browne Practices the "Cavuto Mark" About Massachusetts' Healthcare

Reported by Julie - January 20, 2010 -

Guest blogged by Nayef.

Size 4 is the new 6, pink is the new red, and the Scott Brown win in Massachusetts is the new referendum against health care reform. Far be it from any reporter on Fox to get in the way of a good, right-wing theme. Along those lines, I got this gem from a regular old Fox “news” program yesterday, America's Election HQ, in fact – which is part of the minority “news” lineup. With video.

Foxette Patti Ann Browne introduced Peter Canellos, the editorial page Editor of The Boston Globe, and stated, “Some say this is a referendum on health care . . . Does their disappointment in their own health care legislation incline Massachusetts voters to reject a candidate who might impose similar legislation across the country?” Browne later asked a similar leading question about this being a statement against President Obama. (To his credit, Canellos seemed uninterested in embarking on any smear campaign against the Obama Administration or the left.)

This leading statement, loaded against anything which might benefit a random liberal or Democrat, as usual, contained the erroneous assertion that most people in the state oppose the state universal health care enacted in 2006. Browne cited a “recent poll” – without, of course, identifying it – which said that support dropped to 1/3 and opposition is up to a 1/3. (Since this is the Fox channel, I'm going to take a wild guess and surmise that the anonymous poll quoted is most likely Rasmussen.) Of course, in her zeal to denounce the popularity of healthcare reform, Brown forgot to mention that other polls indicate otherwise

It's no secret that pollsters – and Fox likes Rasmussen, so I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest this outfit has this pattern – often ask questions in a certain way to influence the public into stating an answer the pollster wants to hear. As a matter of fact, it's pretty much like what Fox hosts and “reporters” do. The fact is, 79% polled in Massachusetts support the health care law but want some changes to be made, mostly in cost reduction, while only 11% want the law repealed.

The point really isn't whether the pollsters are putting a slant on questions, though; the point is that Fox reporters and hosts, as demonstrated here with Browne, ask leading questions or make leading statements to elicit a hoped-for response. It's a variation of the tactic dubbed the “Cavuto Mark” by Jon Stewart, and it seems the seminars they must give regularly at Fox – on how to apply the right-wing spin – have been well-attended.