FOX News has been accused numerous times of having a hand in the Republican Party cookie jar when it comes to their reporting.
And while it’s the home of conservative talk show hosts like Sean Hannity, the organization has always been able to defend itself by saying their talk shows are completely separate from their news reporting. Now, that defense may not be so easy to make.
Progressive media site, Media Matters, reports that FOX News’ Washington managing editor, Bill Sammon, issued a memo banning its reporters from using the phrase “public option” last year amidst the heated health care reform debate.
Instead, he gave FOX reporters three apparently Republican pollster-approved alternatives to use instead. Check out the email below:
From: Sammon, BillSent: Tuesday, October 27, 2009 8:23 AMTo: 054 -FNSunday; 169 -SPECIAL REPORT; 069 -Politics; 030 -Root (FoxNews.Com); 036 -FOX.WHU; 050 -Senior Producers; 051 -ProducersSubject: friendly reminder: let’s not slip back into calling it the “public option”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.
FOX’s senior vice president for news, Michael Clemente, then replied that he preferred the third option. As soon as that evening, reporters began using Sammon’s alternatives to “public option” on-air when discussing health care reform.
In his defense, Sammon spoke to The Daily Beast saying, “I have no idea what the Republicans were pushing or not. It’s simply an accurate, fair, objective term.”
As you know, the “public option” was removed from the health care bill before it was passed, which some believe greatly strayed from its intended purpose of making health care insurance affordable for all Americans.
Do you think Sammon’s ban on using the phrase “public option” effectively slanted FOX’s news coverage toward the Republicans in the health care debate?