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Top Fox News Executive Admits Lying On-Air About Obama

 
 
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In newly uncovered audio, a Fox News executive boasts that he lied repeatedly during the closing days of the 2008 presidential campaign when he speculated on-air "about whether Barack Obama really advocated socialism."

Speaking in 2009 onboard a pricey Mediterranean cruise sponsored by a right-wing college, Fox Washington managing editor Bill Sammon described his attempts the previous year to link Obama to "socialism" as "mischievous speculation." Sammon, who is also a Fox News vice president, acknowledged that "privately" he had believed that the socialism allegation was "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,' " said Sammon. "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."

 

Indeed, in the weeks leading up to the 2008 election, Sammon used his Fox position to engage in a campaign to tie Obama to "Marxists" and "socialism." A Media Matters review found that Sammon - then the network's Washington deputy managing editor - repeatedly linked Obama's "spread the wealth around" remark to socialism during his October 2008 Fox appearances.

Sammon's "mischief" wasn't limited to his on-air appearances. As Media Matters reported, Sammon also pushed Fox News colleagues to play the socialism card. On October 27, 2008, Sammon sent an emailto staffers highlighting what he described as "Obama's references to socialism, liberalism, Marxism and Marxists" in his 1995 autobiography Dreams From My Father. Shortly after sending the email, Sammon appeared on two Fox News programs to discuss his research and also wrote a FoxNews.com pieceabout Obama's "affinity to Marxists."

On October 14, 2008, Sammon said that Obama's "spread the wealth around" remark "is red meat when you're talking to conservatives and you start talking about 'spread the wealth around.' That is tantamount to socialism." 

Sammon repeated the "tantamount to socialism" line later that day, stating: "That's anathema to conservatives. That's the same as saying, 'Spread the misery around.' That's basically tantamount to socialism. And that bothers a lot of people. So I think if McCain is going to have any chance of moving ahead, he's got to turn this economic discussion from something that's been hurting him for the last couple weeks to something that can help him by focusing on what to do about the economy in the future." 

On October 21, 2008, Sammon appeared on Greta Van Susteren's show, where he referred to Bill Ayers "talking about being a Marxist." Sammon then said, "I have read Barack Obama's books pretty carefully, and he in his own words talks about being drawn to Marxists. ... Now all this stuff's coming out about whether he's a socialist. I don't know why anyone is surprised by it, because if you read his own words and his sort of, you know, orientation coming up as a liberal through college and as a young man, it's not a huge shock."

On October 25, 2008, Sammon said: "As soon as I heard Barack Obama say, and it's gone on almost two weeks ago - two weeks ago -- 'spread the wealth around,' I mean, the red flag went up. I mean, that's just code - and I knew that conservatives would say, 'That is exactly code for income redistribution which is tantamount to socialism.' And I talked about this for several days right after it happened. And the McCain campaign has now picked up this socialism word on their own, and they're running with it."

"I think some of these substantive issues, such as, you know, higher taxes, are we going to head more towards a socialistic government, could play in McCain's favor," Sammon said on October 27, 2008, after Fox aired a clip of Obama responding to McCain's accusations of socialism.

"I do think that when you start talking about 'spread the wealth around,' which is what Barack Obama said to Joe the Plumber, and now this new radio thing that came up today where he talks about redistributing the wealth, you know, those two things together are tantamount to socialism to conservatives," Sammon added later in the October 27 interview. "That's red meat. That'll fire up the conservative base, who had been a little bit dispirited."

Sammon went on to say that Obama "was drawn to Marxists, he was drawn to liberals, he was drawn to socialists by his own admission as a young man, so I think even though he postures as a moderate now as a presidential candidate, I think his heart is really towards the hard left, and we may see whether that comes out as he governs, if in fact he wins."

During an October 28, 2008, appearance on Fox & Friends, Sammon again said Obama "was drawn to Marxist and socialists as a young man" before adding, "Now, let's be clear. I mean people had political ideologies in college that they don't necessarily have later in life, but I do think it indicates that he may be a little bit more liberal than he presents himself."

Later in the interview, Sammon said that "there certainly is a consistency there when you look at the people he was drawn to going to socialist conferences, hanging out with Marxist professors, going to see Stokely Carmichael, even after he got out of college, for inspiration. The former Black Panther. And then you look later at life, where his association with Bill Ayers, the radical. You look at his association with the Reverend Wright. It does make you wonder whether indeed some of his leanings in his college days still carry through today, only are a little bit more fuzzed up because he's a politician who's running for high office. And I think it's worth examining."

Sammon made his startling admission during an August 2, 2009, speech onboard a 12-day cruise sponsored by Hillsdale College. Conservative writers Walter Williams, Paul Johnson, and Victor Davis Hanson also gave lectures. A Hillsdale newsletter states that "in addition to giving lectures, guest speakers also hosted private dinners for invited guests, and joined in the daytime excursions and camaraderie with their fellow 136 Hillsdale friends and nine Hillsdale staff."

A brochure for the cruise promised attendees a "great opportunity to gather and discuss history and ideas with noted scholars and like-minded friends of Hillsdale." Cabin rates ranged from $11,800 to $37,600 per couple.

The National Review has described Hillsdale as "a citadel of American conservatism," and the conservative Young America's Foundation has listed Hillsdale as one of the top conservative colleges in the country. Hillsdale President Larry Arnn, Sean Hannity, and Mark Levin have issued fundraising appeals touting the college's conservative credentials. Rush Limbaugh has also done on-air radio advertisements for Hillsdale.

During his cruise speech, Sammon said that while he found his own socialism speculation "far-fetched" in October 2008, it was actually proven correct during the first months of Obama's presidency.

"Now imagine my surprise when this year, I witness President Barack Obama standing in the cross hall of the White House and having taken over the American car industry, look into the camera, and announce to the nation essentially, that he would personally vouch for the warranty on your car's muffler," Sammon said on the cruise. "All of a sudden, the debate over whether America was heading for socialism seemed anything but far-fetched."

In a later portion of his speech, Sammon said:

Better yet, people are now surprised that we suddenly gotten serious about the debate over whether America is headed for socialism? I mean, come on. Americans were well aware all throughout the campaign that Barack Obama had chosen to spend 20 years of his adult life at a church that required its congregants to embrace economic parity and disavow the pursuit of middle-classness. OK? Barack Obama admitted that for much of his life he has been drawn to Marxists. I mean for crying out loud, he stood on that sidewalk in Toledo and said to Joe the Plumber, on camera, that he wanted to spread the wealth around. So there shouldn't be a lot of surprise here.

Media Matters obtained audio of Sammon's remarks by purchasing it through Hillsdale College.

Update: The Daily Beast's Howard Kurtz has a response from Sammon about his 2009 remarks:

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 notes that in the same talk on the cruise, he pointed out that George W. Bush had his own stimulus package and had spent half the TARP bailout money: "I was talking about both sides being big spenders." (True; he also told the cruise guests that "when it comes to spending money, Obama makes Bush look like a piker.")

From Sammon's August 2, 2009, Hillsdale College cruise speech:

SAMMON: It is so nice to be back with my Hillsdale friends again, although I have to say that when I arrived last week, the very first person I encountered was James Carville, my old friend James Carville -- made me wonder whether I had boarded the wrong boat. James assured me that he had not known in advance that this was going to be the Hillsdale cruise, which then made me wonder, I wonder if his lovely and talented wife Mary Matalin, who by the way published one of my books, and who affectionately refers to her husband as Serpenthead, I wondered whether Mary had mischievously arranged for James to come on this ship, maybe mingle with some of you Hillsdale people in hopes of saving his ideological soul. Mary, if you're out there, good luck with that one.

You know, 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.

Now imagine my surprise when this year, I witness President Barack Obama standing in the cross hall of the White House and having taken over the American car industry, look into the camera, and announce to the nation essentially, that he would personally vouch for the warranty on your car's muffler. All of a sudden, the debate over whether America was heading for socialism seemed anything but far-fetched. In fact, when you consider the massive expenditures of your tax dollars on such programs as TARP, and stimulus, and in fairness, our pres -- our former president George W. Bush had his own stimulus package towards the end of his administration -- nobody remembers that -- and he also spent the first half of the TARP money.

So we went from a big government conservative to a big government liberal. Although I will say that when it comes to spending money, Obama makes Bush look like a piker. When you consider that those expenditures of money by this administration, which by the way will quadruple the deficit from this year to next year, for the next fiscal year, starts October 1, the deficit will quadruple and when you consider the sweeping expansion of government regulation over such sectors as the finance industry including caps on executive compensation. When you consider the Obama administration's concerted effort to nationalize health care, which of course accounts for a sixth of our economy, and when you consider the Obama administration's concerted effort to impose a cap and trade regime which will profoundly reorder the rest of our economy and mandate massive transfers of wealth. When you consider all of those things and more like them, the debate over whether America is headed for socialism seems all too real, especially to those who still believe in capitalism.

And consider this final thought. When it comes to government spending as a percentage of gross domestic product, the United States has now surpassed Sweden.

[...]

SAMMON: In 2008, obviously, he was elected the nation's first black president, a historic achievement. But did so in part by presenting himself as a moderate. In 2009, at least during the first six months of his term, he has instead demonstrated that he is actually quite liberal, quite an ideologue, and quite an ambitious leftist.

Oh, yeah, I mean he made a few overtures to the political opposition. He, you know, had an off-the-record dinner with Charles Krauthammer and some other conservative columnists. He invited a few Republican lawmakers over to the White House for some social events, but you know, those invitations have been quietly discontinued. You don't hear much about that anymore. And the truth of the matter is that the golden era of post-partisanship that Barack Obama was supposed to usher in really ended before it ever started.

And the only thing that should surprise us about that is that we are surprised at all. I mean, it's not like America couldn't see this one coming. Remember, Barack Obama, long before he was elected president, was ranked the most liberal member of the U.S. Senate by the National Journal, a non-partisan magazine. He was given a 95 percent liberal rating by the left-wing group Americans for Democratic Reform. He was on record in his own memoirs as saying, quote, "the arguments of liberals are more often grounded in reason and fact," end quote. And now people are surprised that he's turned out to be a liberal president?

Better yet, people are now surprised that we suddenly gotten serious about the debate over whether America is headed for socialism? I mean, come on. Americans were well aware all throughout the campaign that Barack Obama had chosen to spend 20 years of his adult life at a church that required its congregants to embrace economic parity and disavow the pursuit of middle-classness. OK? Barack Obama admitted that for much of his life he has been drawn to Marxists. I mean for crying out loud, he stood on that sidewalk in Toledo and said to Joe the Plumber, on camera, that he wanted to spread the wealth around. So there shouldn't be a lot of surprise here.

Media Matters / By Eric Hananoki | Sourced from

Posted at March 29, 2011, 11:51am