Is Fox News' Sammon a 'mischief' maker?
March 29th, 2011
04:20 PM ET
9 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, 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. ThinkAgain

    Henry Miller, Libertarian: How is President Obama a "closet socialist"? What the heck does that mean, anyway?

    You may want to live in a dog-eat-dog world, but I don't. I like living in a country with social safety nets and a sense of shared purpose.

    My advice to you is, you don't like it, leave!

    March 29, 2011 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  2. valwayne

    What would be wrong with speculating on air about a Presidential candidates economic philosophies? There were millions of people convinced that Obama was a socialist. So even if a reporter didn't think Obama was a socialist wouldn't they have an obligation to report and discuss/speculate what millions of people believe. It was a fact that Obama had the most liberal voting record in the U.S. Senate, and that included Sen Sanders who is a socialist. Besides the other networks bought up the issue also. And a lot more people are convinced that Obama is a socilaist now after two years of massive spending and debt in office than before. I think Media Matters is just trying to commit their own mischief in their ongoing war against FOX!

    March 29, 2011 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  3. Bill R in Oakland

    And what is so wrong with socialism anyway, if it means supporting public education, public single-payer healthcare, public investments in infrastructure, child welfare, etc.?

    Norway, Germany, France, Netherlands, Canada, Australia (and more)...these countries are prosperous and look after their people pretty well.

    March 29, 2011 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  4. Michael

    Why pay investigative reporters money to collect boring facts that the public doesn't want, when you can make up salacious lies and get many viewers. Sure does help sell more advertising space.

    March 29, 2011 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  5. Rozzlyn

    Hmmmmmmmmmmm – am I surprised??? Hell no. Am I disturbed? YES. HOWEVER – this is typical Republican/Skinhead/KKK – it is typical Conservative battle tactics. There is no fair play with them – there is only winning and controlling all the eggs in the basket. It is time for Democrats, Independents, and all other Groups targeted by these professional cheaters to put up or shut up. I will not change – I prefer being honest, sharing, and correcting myself every time I catch myself being intolerant, judemental, bigoted, or prejudiced. Like child abuse, there is NEVER any excuse for politics of hate. I am so damn glad that the world is full of different life, landscapes and human cultures because without them, life would be boring.Unfortunately, most human cultures share that common characteristic of doing ANYTHING to get to that greener grass on the other side of the fence.....We humans are, in the end, that fine line between genius and idiot. And a lot of us just don't like to share.

    March 29, 2011 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  6. ThinkAgain

    "Mischief maker"? He knowingly lies to people, in an effort to scare them into voting against their own self-interest, to the detriment to our WHOLE COUNTRY!

    Boy, CNN, you really are gutless! Call out Fox for what it is: A foreign-owned, propaganda arm of the Republican Party, with no conscience, no ethics, no morals. Just a bunch of greedy, manipulative jerks with a microphone!

    March 29, 2011 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  7. Judas

    Fox News being unethical? Who knew? If I want real news and not biased crap I usually go to the BBC. But the downside to that is their coverage of the USA is, understandably, quite limited. When I want to be entertained with biased opinions, sensationalism and, more often than not, fiction, I go to any one of the numerous US based mainstream “news” organizations, where journalistic integrity went to die many years ago. Although it’s a tight race, Fox News is still well ahead of the pack for being the most biased and offensive. It’s like having the television / online equivalent of the National Enquirer.

    March 29, 2011 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  8. Fox is not a News organization, it's a Propganda arm of the right wing

    And Sammon has proved it.

    March 29, 2011 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |

    Just more proof that the word "NEWS" should be deleted from Fox since they are NOT a news station. They are the GOP channel and should be called that. The lies that they broadcast daily should be stopped. Where is the FCC when you really need them?!?

    March 29, 2011 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  10. jm

    I too am a x Fox news watcher. I watched it for a couple of years until I just could not stand watching show after show of lies, especially the three evening shows, O'riely, Hannity and Vansustrun. Hannity has to be the biggest idiot of all time with his concept of his America, wonder where Palin got that from? His license plates from all over and all his charts and that whinny voice that sounded like he was announcing a horse race all the time. Ugh. CNN has a couple of shows like that. I just turned one off because I can't stand the hypocrisy of an idiot standing up there , another whinny voice, with his magic walls and all of his guests that agree with him, putting down the president, calling him a liar ect. Who do these guys think they are that can stand in their news room and run a war better than any of the generals or the president or anyone just by using his little magic wand and his magic wall?

    March 29, 2011 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  11. catmom

    Henry Miller, Libertarian

    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?

    March 29, 2011 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
    No, the Lefties are just happy that Fox is being exposed for what and who they really are. They are a wing of the Republican party whose job it seems is to spread negative propaganda about President Obama. They are not creditable and it has been shown in a variety of ways that viewers of Fox are misinformed. And you are the poster child for the Fox misinformed.

    And dude, get over the socialism crapola! So much of our country is based on what you consider socialism and you wouldn't know how to get along if those things suddenly disappeared.

    March 29, 2011 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  12. Tired of the nonsense

    1. It came from Fox which is tabloid news (and that's being generous with a definition)
    2. The right-wing-nut-jobs believed it and belabored the lie.
    3. It came from Fox which guarantees it's either an outright lie or a rumors/innuendo used to libel good people.

    IIt's the RWNJs agenda, folks. They lie to a sonambulant public who have no working brain cells and these individuals are unable to think for themselves. Why they allow the RWNJs to vote is still a mystery.

    March 29, 2011 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  13. Marie MD

    Unfortunately, since he is lying through his teeth but he is from faux news he will get to keep his job. The only ones who can lie, cheat and cause havoc are the rethugs and their 24/7 news station.
    This country is really pathetic!

    March 29, 2011 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  14. david in chicago

    what does Newsmax think? (:slapforehead)

    March 29, 2011 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  15. Indy

    I hooked up my TV to a lie detector and put Fox news on and my TV blew up in 30 seconds !

    March 29, 2011 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  16. Indy

    People that have no clue what a "socialist" really is watch Fox news. If you watch Fox news you have been brainwashed to think that Obama is a socialist, and that is the only way a person would have such a gross misunderstanding of the term "socialist".

    March 29, 2011 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  17. Greater Good

    Fox News panders to the feeble minded, elderly, racist, and greedy. Throw in a dash of red, white, and blue and it's a perfectly dangerous witches brew sold as Americana. The thing is, the end product is closer to Tokyo Rose than Edward R. Murrow.

    March 29, 2011 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  18. anthony

    "Its obvious Obama is a socialist"


    Beuller?... Beuller?

    March 29, 2011 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  19. kat

    Is this the way CNN and the liberals plan on stopping Fox from informing the people on the Truth. Our Government is a mess, no one in their right mind can dispupt that. One bad apple don't spoil the whole bunch.

    March 30, 2011 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  20. Sue

    So, Sammon exposes that Obama is a socialist-and somehow this is current news?? Conservatives and the majority of Independents have known for a long time that Obama is trying to push socialist policies–since he was elected.

    And, CNN-as well as the rest of the pro-Obama, liberal biased, puppet media has nerve questioning the journalistic integrity of any media source. This is part of Media Matters current attack plans on Fox News.

    However, remember the last time that the loony left decided to attack Fox News?? Their viewers INCREASED--while those of all other stations DECREASED.

    March 30, 2011 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  21. Mike D

    I think a lot of people throwing around the term "socialist" don't seem to know what it really means.

    March 30, 2011 01:21 am at 1:21 am |
  22. Chris

    Most these posters that agree Obama is a socialist don't know what socialism is. They just lump it in with communism and think it's the same thing. Many ACTUAL socialist has denounced Obama's actions as socialism. The goal of the socialism talk is to scare people. No difference then when communism was the big bad bully. The fact is hundreds of millions are seeing capitalism has it's own flaws. So if a poster can actual point to a list of Obama policies and explain how they are socialist then I'm all ears. I know health care would be someones an example but socialist healthcare involves hospitals and doctors working for and being paid by the government. People paying taxes into a pool, much like insurance companies, and those taxes being used to pay for a persons doctor visit. So go look up what socialism is before you label Obama's policies as socialism because Fox said they were.

    March 30, 2011 02:46 am at 2:46 am |
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