Is Fox News' Sammon a 'mischief' maker?
March 29th, 2011
04:20 PM ET
10 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. 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 |
  2. CBR

    What else is new! Fox has continued to quote rumor and innuendo about people who do not agree with their ideology or philosophy.

    Print someth9ng newsworthy.

    March 29, 2011 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  3. Sleipner

    As always, CNN underplays the outright lies and propaganda designed and repeated ad nauseum by Fox specifically to attack the left in all ways possible. "Mischief maker" sounds almost cute, when they're really helping greedy billionaires to destroy our country's economy and future for their own profit.

    March 29, 2011 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  4. Markus

    great journalistic integrity there. Very fair and balanced.

    March 29, 2011 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  5. Obamacare = Romneycare v1.01

    They gotta be something, they certainly aren't a news network.

    March 29, 2011 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  6. Michigan Don

    Another event which proves that the Republican Party and its voice Faux News are both liars.

    March 29, 2011 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  7. Brian

    He is a socialist... this isn't news

    March 29, 2011 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  8. realitybites

    Remember when Fox got accused of using Joesph Goebells lie tactics and how insensed they were? Case in point and unapologetically so . Drink the Fox Cool Aid. It's packed full of vitamins and lies.

    March 29, 2011 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  9. Miss Information

    No way fox lying.... ...Its nice to have some admittance however... Bet he'll be fired soon....

    March 29, 2011 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  10. Squiggs

    This is what conservatives do. They don't care about the truth. Conservatives look at making the American system more fair as socialism. They don't look at the policies put in place over the last 40 years that have put more money in the hands of a few as socialism. They see that as free enterprise despite the rules in place to make sure that wealth stays in the hands of a few. Fortunately for them too many of the have nots feel the same way.

    March 29, 2011 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  11. Michael

    Fox "News" is mischief-making at the national level. Mischief gets ratings when real journalism is not to the taste of neo-Fascist investors.

    March 29, 2011 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  12. Mike Chino Hills, Ca

    I watched Fox for many years. I didn't realize until after taking a break on how wrong my thinking was about everything. Garbage in, Garbage out! CNN does a very good job in presenting the facts and allows us the viewer to make our own conclusions. Fox is a little bit hateful, and I don't appreciate that in my home.

    March 29, 2011 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  13. The Dude

    Oh, yeah, and in other news, water is wet

    March 29, 2011 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  14. notfooledbydistractions

    "Mischief maker" – no, I think liar and propagandist would be more fitting. Those who still believe that fox is a credible source for factual news are idiots.

    March 29, 2011 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  15. Russell

    Well, it appears Mr. Sammon was actually correct. I think it is fairly obvious our POTUS is a socialist. Where is the story here?

    March 29, 2011 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  16. DonJose

    Not a mischief. It was a premeditated lie, that is, the vintage FOX.

    March 29, 2011 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  17. Pretzel Logic

    Wow you mean someone at Fox News might have a bias against Obama? That's news!!

    March 29, 2011 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  18. steven harnack

    As if you're telling us something we didn't know. FOX has been outed many times for skewing their coverage in ways that they admitted were false. They have even bragged about it. Still there will be about 20% of the population who take what they say as gospel because a) it it what they want to believe, b) they don't hear any other voices so they will not even be aware of this latest admission. They should be required, under truth in advertising if nothing else, to drop News from their title and any ads about themselves.

    March 29, 2011 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  19. Julie C

    More lies and propoganda from the Fox crowd, they just hate a President of color, don't they?

    March 29, 2011 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  20. Lucullus

    Interesting. He's admitted that he and Fox News are liars. The question remains, will he resign? Will the legitimate media report the facts forcing a change in Fox? LOLOLOLOLOLO oh of course he won't and neither will they. This means nothing the media and American will forget it by . . . .. why they've forgotten it already

    March 29, 2011 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  21. ACE

    Mischief maker no racist, bigoted moron yes. I Expect nothing less from Faux

    March 29, 2011 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  22. ConservaFascists/FUBAR

    Chris Wallace and Greta are probably the only 2 people at Fox I have any shred of respect for. The rest of them are a bunch of falsifiers -aka- LIARS.

    March 29, 2011 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  23. Canuck

    Fox News is not telling the truth??? Geez, who'd have thought??? It would really benefit the American public to do some independent thinking.....

    March 29, 2011 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  24. V in Chicago

    So, a Fox Executive lied and encouraged others to lie? No real surprise here. The only surprised is that he admitted it so readily. We all knew Fox was (and still is) spewing lies about this Administration. Now, they have verified what the majority of us already knew.

    March 29, 2011 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  25. kayla

    the guy is a genius, he new the american people are too lazy to read for themselves and would believe anything you tell them. the good thing is that the president surpas them he is too smart and intelligent, and HE WILL WIN AGAIN.

    March 29, 2011 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
1 2 3 4