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If Fox News Doesn’t Fire Bill Sammon, It’s A Tacit Approval Of A Managing Editor Lying To Promote A Partisan Political Agenda

Reported by Ellen - March 30, 2011 -

If ever anything disproved Fox News’ contention that there’s a separation between its opinion shows and its news shows (reiterated just last week by Bret Baier on The Daily Show), it’s the video released yesterday by Media Matters showing Bill Sammon, now the network’s vice president and Washington managing editor, admitting that he didn’t really believe his own on-air accusations about Barack Obama’s socialism. Video after the jump.

Media Matters’ video caught Sammon saying, during a 2009 cruise,

Speaking of mischief, 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.’ 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.

At the time, Sammon was Fox’s Washington Deputy Managing Editor. He was neither a pundit nor an opinion show host.

As Howard Kurtz noted, Sammon not only espoused that “far-fetched” position several times on the air, he promoted it to his staff in an October 27 email highlighting “Obama’s references to socialism, liberalism, Marxism and Marxists” in his 1995 autobiography, Dreams From My Father. Media Matters found at least 35 instances where Fox News employees tried to link Obama to socialism, Marxism, or Communism on the air in the nine days between that email and the November 4 election.

In a ludicrous “explanation,” Sammon said, basically, it’s all good because he was proven correct later on. In other words, he believed what he said after he didn’t believe what he said. Or as Media Matters’ Simon Malloy put it, “It was a pre-truth!”

Kurtz reported,

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.”

… Sammon said he eventually concluded that what he had thought was baseless speculation among Obama’s socialistic views turned out to be accurate.

This is far from the first time that Sammon has been caught pushing a blatantly partisan agenda. If Fox News doesn’t fire him, even their fig leaf of a wall between news and opinion will vanish completely.

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