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Top Fox News Editor Pushed Staff to Smear Obama as "Socialist"

During the 2008 race, Bill Sammon used his position as a top Fox News editor to engage in a campaign to link Obama to "Marxists" and "socialism."

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For weeks, Sammon had used Fox's airwaves to promote efforts to tie Obama to socialism. On October 14, 2008, Sammon  said that Obama's "spread the wealth" remark to Joe the Plumber "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 about Obama's remark 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 of 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."

Sammon appeared on  Fox & Friends' October 25, 2008, program and said that the McCain campaign "has now picked up this socialism word on their own, and they're running with it. I think it's their one opportunity that they have to turn this economy into something that actually works for their campaign because as you know, for weeks the economy has been killing the McCain campaign and I think this helps them."

Then, on October 27, 2008, the Drudge Report posted audio of a 2001  radio interview with Obama. Fox News and conservative commentators  distorted the interview, with some falsely claiming that Obama said it was a "tragedy" that the Supreme Court had not pursued "redistribution of wealth."

It was in this context Sammon sent his "Marxism" email to journalists at Fox.

Less than 90 minutes after sending the email, Sammon appeared on the October 27, 2008, broadcast of Fox's  Live Desk -- one of Fox's supposedly straight news daytime programs -- to discuss, in co-anchor Martha MacCallum's words, how "quotes that you found earlier in one of Barack Obama's books" relate to questions about whether Obama's policies are "socialism." Sammon said Obama was "drawn to Marxists" and "socialists." Sammon declared that Obama had been posturing "as a moderate" when "his heart is really towards the hard left."  

"If you read the autobiography of Barack Obama as I have done, his first autobiography, it's very telling," Sammon said. "He talks about these words that are being tossed around now. Socialism, liberalism, and Marxism came up in this Biden interview with this TV anchor, and Barack Obama talks about these terms in his books. And he was drawn to Marxists, and he was drawn to liberals, and he was drawn to socialists by his own admission as a young man."

MacCallum responded that Obama's past writings are "relevant at this time" because "there's been so much discussion about socialism, and Marxism."

When asked if he thought Obama might have changed his views over time, Sammon suggested Obama had not. Sammon cited the  National Journal's ranking of "Obama as the most liberal member of the Senate" and said: "It wasn't just some random thing. He really is a liberal guy despite the way he postures, and has sort of been portrayed by the mainstream media as a very reasonable moderate kind of guy."

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