"Friendly Reminder": Fox's Unbalanced Ethics Threaten Democracy

Anyone who still clings to the notion that Fox News is actually a news organization rather than a propaganda machine for special interests -- and that it actually is led by journalists who adhere to the code of ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists -- must read the leaked memos Media Matters disclosed this morning.

Under the heading of "Fox boss caught slanting news reporting," Media Matters shared on its Web site an internal memo that Bill Sammon, Fox News' Washington managing editor, sent a memo "at the height of the health care reform debate" to his network's so-called journalists, directing them not to use the phrase "public option."

Instead, Sammon told them, they should use focus-tested Republican and insurance industry talking points "to turn public opinion against the Democrats' reform efforts."

In his October 27, 2009 memo to his staff, Sammon offered what he called a "friendly reminder." "Let's not slip back into calling it the "public option." Instead, he ordered:

  1. Please use the term "government-run health insurance" or, when brevity is a concern, "government option," whenever possible.
  2. When it is necessary to use the term "public option" (which is, after all, firmly ensconced in the nation's lexicon), use the qualifier "so-called," as in "the so-called public option."
  3. Here's another way to phrase it: "The public option, which is the government-run plan."
  4. When newsmakers and sources use the term "public option" in our stories, there's not a lot we can do about it, since quotes are of course sacrosanct.

As I wrote in my book, Deadly Spin, PR firms representing the health insurance industry routinely furnished conservative pundits and so-called journalists with talking points their consultants developed to scare people away from reform.

The insurance industry has spent millions of our premium dollars over the years on linguistic research and message testing to assist it in disseminating false and misleading information to manipulate public opinion.

I devoted an entire chapter to the industry's "Playbook." Here is one of the tactics I said included in the Playbook:

Feed talking points to TV pundits and frequent contributors to op-ed pages. They will know how to get talk show hosts with big audiences like Rush Limbaugh or Bill O'Reilly or Glenn Beck to say things on the air to support your point of view and discredit your opponents.

This morning, the grassroots advocacy coalition Health Care for America Now asked its supporters to "reject Fox News and its attempts to continually attack the Affordable Care Act and the people who support it under the guise of legitimate 'reporting.'"

I am calling on Rupert Murdoch to fire Sammon, and I am calling on Fox's so-called journalists and the network's producers -- many of whom I know and have worked with over the years -- to denounce Sammon's partisan approach to reporting and commentary. I am further calling on them, and the news staff at the Wall Street Journal, also owned by Murdoch, to dedicate themselves to truly being "fair and balanced" and to familiarize themselves with the profession's code of ethics.

Nothing short of our democracy is at stake here, folks.


<P>One more thought while I am on the warpath... Democrats say the Republicans are the party of big corporations -- the rich. I have two questions: 1) Why do rich corporations shift their political donation percentages back and forth between the two parties? When Republicans are in power, corporations donate 70-80% to the Republicans, 20-30% to the Democrats. The percentages are reversed when the Dems are in power. Why is that? 2) If rich corporations are in bed with the Republicans, why is it that the Rockefellers, B &amp; L Gates, Fords, Heinz' and other corporations use their foundations to support the causes of the far-left? And what about George Soros? In my estimation, rich corporations will use both parties to increase their riches. The statement that Republicans are the party of the rich is just a propaganda ploy. Both parties are corrupt.</P>

The Gates Foundation recently supported Right-Wing agriculture giant (monster?) Monsanto by buying large amounts of their stock and promoting their incursion into Africa. They are currently involved in promoting the privatization of Public Schools. Yes, both parties' LEADERSHIP is corrupt (having been co-opted by RIGHT-WING Corporations/The Rich - NOT a liberal bastion!). You just won't recognize that they are BOTH "conservative" and Right-Wing. I'm SICK of you Righties bringing up George Soros all the time. It's because, out of the MULTITUDE of Billionaires supporting Right-Wing causes, he's the ONLY ONE you can come up with who you consider a liberal! I wouldn't be surprised if you cut-and-pasted your post directly from a Fox, or Republican Party website. You obviously DON'T read CMD/PRwatch much. There's PLENTY here exposing the "Left's" malfeasances - look up "Geithner", and see how many articles there are. Want a candid look at how corrupt YOUR side is? Read Lisa Graves' current article 'More on Fox "News" and its Party' http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=HgSjgG%2B4Snlhj1Shz6LTU%2FVI%2Fv43O9C9 Try having an original thought, for once. Quit mynah-birding your brainwashers.

As a wise man once said, "There are only two kinds of Republicans: the ones who are rich, and the ones who are too stupid to know what the rich ones are doing."