Is Fox News' Sammon a 'mischief' maker?
March 29th, 2011
04:20 PM ET
3 years ago

Is Fox News' Sammon a 'mischief' maker?

(CNN) - Washington Fox News executive Bill Sammon admitted in a newly released audio tape that in 2008 he repeatedly speculated about President Obama's support for socialism despite privately believing the idea was "far-fetched."

He made the comments before a group on a 2009 Mediterranean cruise sponsored by conservative Hillsdale College. A recording of the audio from the event was obtained by MediaMatters.org, a well-funded, liberal media watchdog organization that says it is committed to exposing conservative bias in the media, especially from Fox News.

Discussing the 2008 campaign for the presidency, Sammon said, "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."

Sammon, the managing editor of Washington, D.C. coverage for Fox News, then listed reasons he believes the "far-fetched" premise to be real one year after Obama took office. Among them: the Obama administration's "sweeping expansion of government regulation," and "concerted efforts" to "nationalize health care" as well as "impose a cap and trade regime which will profoundly reorder the rest of our economy and mandate massive transfers of wealth."

Sammon said he was originally spurred to think about socialism by Obama's own comments on the 2008 campaign trail, "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."

Media Matters is now crying foul, claiming that Sammon pushed an Obama-as-socialist agenda with the knowledge that the idea was unlikely. The group released e-mails sent from Sammon to Fox News staffers that highlight "Obama's references to socialism" in his autobiography "Dreams from My Father," and cited the executive's comments on-air. During the health care debate Sammon also sent a memo to staffers that encouraged use of the phrase "government-run health insurance" instead of "public option."

Leading up to the 2008 presidential election, Sammon, who described Obama's remark to Joe the Plumber as "red meat" for conservatives, repeatedly linked Obama's "spread the wealth around" comment to socialism during his October 2008 Fox appearances, according to the group.

But in an interview with Howard Kurtz for The Daily Beast, Sammon regarded his reference to mischief as an "inartful way of saying, 'Can you believe how far this thing has come?'" And, without regret for raising the socialism question on-air repeatedly, Sammon said "It was a main point of discussion on all the channels, in all the media."

Kurtz hosts the program "Reliable Sources" on CNN.

When asked for comment on this story, Fox News referenced the Kurtz interview.


Filed under: Fox News • President Obama
soundoff (97 Responses)
  1. cf

    So, Fox News reported something that they knew not to be true, but did so anyway because it helped the Right politically? So what else is new?

    March 29, 2011 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  2. Paul

    I really wish they would impeach Obama, and bring in an actual liberal. Then all these nut job conservatives, would see what a real liberal is. And I'm not even talking about socialists yet! Lol, Fox News should be reporting on the fact that Obama is a closet conservative!

    March 29, 2011 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  3. PacificView

    It's ironic that the biggest wealth transfers happening in this country are the bread and butter policy of the republicans. Tax cuts for the super wealthy, super paydays for the rich, while the rest of us are left with wal-mart wages, busted unions and erased murals honoring honest working people. This isn't capitalism, it's a new age of feudalism.

    March 29, 2011 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  4. zazu

    You didn't know this already? Why do you think Republicans hate education? The more one is educated, your chances of being Republican hangs only whether you have a conscious or not!

    March 29, 2011 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  5. zazu

    Most Fox news consumers can't define Socialism or any ism for that matter. As David Brooks said, "There are more Americans who own Ferrets than those who watch fox (faux) news!" Just ignore them or if you have grandma that needs elucidation, just explain to her or just ignore it if it is a lost cause.

    March 29, 2011 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  6. Rick in Phx

    So these rabid Lefties are mad at this guy for telling the truth that Obama is, and was, a closet socialist? It's not like that's news to anyone, as much as the Left tries to hide behind the euphemism "Progressive." I'm no Fox fan, but isn't "truth" what news sources are supposed to peddle?

    Sorry but, I just had to comment on this. The answer is No, No, No. The job of Any news organization is "NOT" to provide the "truth" and sometimes, sadly it's not even about providing "facts". When those on the left, right and middle finally realize that the true job of Fox, Msnbc and yes even Cnn is simply to keep you viewed on that channel during the commercial breaks. For those that think that news organizations are going to tell you some Aw inspiring truth that is all of a sudden going to explain the meaning of life to you, or their going to explain to you why you should think a certain way. To those people I can only say "get a life" and "start thinking for yourselves for once". Sammon just simply stated that he engaged in a conversation on Fox that he personally didn't find to be a proven fact simply to keep viewers on that channel so their sponsors would have people viewing their commercials. GEEZ.. Take it for what it's worth and move on.

    March 29, 2011 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  7. Rick McDaniel

    Fox is full of Mischief makers, but then the other side has their networks also, MSNBC, CNN, and ABC.

    Since that's 3 networks against one, all the loopla about Fox, is just a bit overdone. Obama media support is far greater then GOP media support. One could also say it is foolish support.....but then that depends on your perspective, unless you are with the liberal left media.

    One thing is for certain, there is little real news anymore, with impartial news anchors......it is all about entertainment now.....and not news.

    March 29, 2011 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  8. a6102658

    Henry Miller, Libertarian: You wouldn't know socialism if it hit you in the face....you have get a book and get an Edumacation...it will learn you somethin'

    March 29, 2011 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  9. T'sah from Virginia

    FOX NEWS – Unfair and Unbalanced – proven by Shamm-on-U!!!

    Now they have TRUMPet spreading more hate on Fox News in an attempt to rally the BIRTHERS (yes BIRTHERS – just because TRUMPet does not like that word!!)

    I used to have some respect for TRUMPet but now that is just "blowing in the wind" and out of TUNE!!!

    March 29, 2011 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  10. ralph malph

    Sometimes what seems far fetched to one, is just the red meat that those in need of a shepherd want and desire. The folks on the far right are in need of anything that is warm and dangles to exist when their thoughts and views are filled with nonsense, thoughtlessness, and directionless ideas. Way to go – stir it up, and feed your blind sheep.

    March 29, 2011 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  11. Coloradan

    That Obama, what's wrong with him that he doesn't want wealth cetralized in the hands of the few? Disgraceful.

    March 29, 2011 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  12. Rickster

    For 50 years the demokkkrats had complete control over the media. Now that Fox is here and telling the American people the unbiased truth, the dems can't stand it.

    March 29, 2011 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  13. The Greedy Old Propagandists run Fox

    MM is right about Fakes News. Fear, lies, anger and ignorance are their stock in trade. Reporting the news truthfully is not what the faceless billionaires want.

    March 29, 2011 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  14. dumbasrocks [R]s

    No Henry, news sources are supposed to peddle facts. And then we are left to determine our own 'truth' from them with the brains we have developed. Those with less developed brains are left to demagoue fairytales, like the one you just peddled. You are NOT a libertarian....you are a joke. Go peddle your Teatard rhetoric elsewhere.

    March 29, 2011 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  15. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    And the right wingnuts continue to lap up the lies and do not want to know the truth.

    March 29, 2011 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  16. FactCheck

    Don't blame Fox. It's not their fault that their viewers are too lazy or just plain mentally addled to do any deductive thinking of their own. Making a buck off the idiocy of others is as American as apple pie.

    March 29, 2011 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  17. NVa Native

    fox media has always been a snake pit of lies and contempt against American ideals and beliefs. They are as anti-American as any radical group has been in our history. All they care about is money, which the GOP and their lobbyists are happy to provide. The true face of evil is fox media.

    March 29, 2011 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  18. Dave

    Fox News is nothing more than a testament to the wholesale dumbing down of this nation. It's a right-wing propaganda machine Goebbles would have loved...

    March 29, 2011 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  19. NVa Native

    They are fascists – look up the 14 elements of fascism and you will recognize the fox / GOP / tea-bagger play book of lies and deception.

    March 29, 2011 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  20. Joan

    All of Fox News is a" mischief maker"- this is what these so called journalists, who are hired by Fox News, thrive on. Trump, who is a GOP, shows just how low they will go. They know nothing about anything so they will pick on any subject which in their sordid and twisted minds will take the people's minds of what is important in the country.

    They live on lies and deceit.

    March 29, 2011 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  21. ThinkAgain

    Formatting correction:

    "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."

    Anyone with half a brain – and actually saw the whole exchange between then-candidate Obama and "Joe the Plumber" – knows that what President Obama was saying is that if more people are working at good paying jobs, more people would be able to afford the services of small businesses, such as Joe the Plumber plumbing business.

    In this way, the wealth would be "spread around" – just like it always is in a healthy economy, in which people have disposable income and can purchase necessities and non-essential goods and services.

    Here's what the President actually said:

    "My attitude is that if the economy’s good for folks from the bottom up, it’s gonna be good for everybody. If you’ve got a plumbing business, you’re gonna be better off [...] if you’ve got a whole bunch of customers who can afford to hire you, and right now everybody’s so pinched that business is bad for everybody and I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody."

    Typical of a Fox employee to lie and distort to further their political agenda.

    Fox and all of its lackeys are such lying, nasty, hateful jerks! Why anyone watches that channel is beyond me!

    March 29, 2011 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  22. jules sand-perkins

    Sometimes Fox News is a faster reporter of "what happened" than CNN.
    I don't have to pay any attention to Fox's opinions to get facts. Lies about facts can usually be discerned by contradictions.
    If Fox News reports Jesus' return, just remember that Americans once believed radio descriptions of the landing of beings from Mars.

    March 29, 2011 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  23. ThinkAgain

    Brian: How is President Obama a socialist? Do you even know the meaning of the term?

    BTW, do you go to the public library? Ever call the police or fire department? Send your kids (or go yourself) to public school?

    Ever drive on a public street or highway or walk on a public sidewalk?

    Ever go to a public park?

    Do you or any of your family members collect Social Security or Medicare?

    Do you get mailed delivered to you by the US Postal Service?

    Do you or any of your family receive benefits from the Veterans Administration? Did you or any of your family receive educational funding under the GI Bill?

    Did you or any of your family receive a Pell Grant or other educational financial assistance from the federal government?

    Because if you answered Yes to any of these questions, you, my friend, are taking advantage of "socialist" programs.

    Put your money where your mouth is, Bub, if you think all of this is so wrong – and give me and the rest of the citizens of the United States a REFUND NOW!

    March 29, 2011 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  24. irene

    Now if the rest of the tea baggers would just admit that they also are lying, we can get back to the business at hand. The GOP have been intentionally spreading lies for decades and should be tried and convicted of slander, obstruction of justice, election tampering, and war crimes against humanity.

    March 29, 2011 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  25. Albo58

    What part of the last 2 years of government bail-outs, entitlement programs, government give-aways (read: Pigford scam) did you lib moonbats miss? Our President is terrified of the the Free Enterprise system because he's always had the government teat to suckle his whole life!

    March 29, 2011 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
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