Fox News Boss Willfully Slanted Healthcare Reports

A high-up Fox News editor told his employees to substitute the phrase “public option” with “government option” in order to skew the public's notion of the health care debate to the right. And while Fox's ultra-conservative slant is nothing new, this revelation pokes truth-sized holes in their persistent argument that they are “fair and balanced.” The evidence: a leaked email from Fox managing editor Bill Sammon:

From: Sammon, Bill
Sent: Tuesday, October 27, 2009 8:23 AM
To: 054 -FNSunday; 169 -SPECIAL REPORT; 069 -Politics; 030 -Root (FoxNews.Com); 036 -FOX.WHU; 050 -Senior Producers; 051 -Producers
Subject: 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.

And lest this sort of truth-skewing seems arbitrary, here is how it affected Fox hosts––and, by proxy, millions of Americans who were willfully uninformed:

On the September 3, 2009, Special Report -- three weeks after Luntz told Hannity to call it the "government option" -- Baier discussed the potential inclusion of a public option during the show's nightly commentary segment. 

During the segment -- after Baier himself had referred to a "public option" -- NPR's Mara Liasson also referred several times to the "public option," prompting Baier to interrupt her to clarify that it is the "government-run option of health insurance."

As the conversation continued, The Washington Post's Charles Krauthammer and The Weekly Standard's Steve Hayes both used "public option." When Liasson mentioned a "triggered public option," Baier again interrupted, asking, "Should we say 'government option,' by the way?"

"Government option, OK," replied Liasson.

"Everybody gets it," Baier explained.

Gross. Read more at Mediamatters.

AlterNet / By Julianne Escobedo Shepherd

Posted at December 9, 2010, 6:55am

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