During the weeks leading up to the 2008 presidential election, Bill Sammon used his position as a top Fox News editor to engage in a campaign to link Barack Obama to "Marxists" and "socialism." Today, Media Matters revealed that Sammon subsequently acknowledged that he had "privately" believed that the socialism allegation was "rather far-fetched."
Sammon's effort to push the bogus socialism charge included an October 27, 2008, email he sent to Fox journalists highlighting what he described as "Obama's references to socialism, liberalism, Marxism and Marxists" in his 1995 autobiography Dreams From My Father.
In the nine days between Sammon's October 27 email and the November 4 election, Fox employees linked Obama to socialism, Marxism, or Communism at least 35 times on air. In some cases, Fox employees directly said or suggested that Obama was linked to socialism; in other cases, they gratuitously mentioned accusations made by "Joe the Plumber" or others.
Illustrative examples include:
"And, this is a FOX News election alert: A seven-year-old radio interview between Barack Obama and a Chicago radio station making headlines today, just eight days before the election. That interview providing fresh ammunition for critics who believe that the Democratic presidential nominee has a socialist-like agenda, a charge that even the McCain camp has made recently." [Megyn Kelly, America's Election Headquarters, 10/27/08]
"OK. So, Barack Obama was -- just to get it straight, he wasn't talking -- he wasn't lamenting the fact that the Supreme Court didn't get into the issue of economic justice, but he was arguing essentially that -- to the extent that that's going to get done, it should get done legislatively. And some have argued that that plays into the McCain camp's accusation that as he told Joe the Plumber he wants to "spread the wealth around" and wants to move this country toward what would be something akin to a socialist system." [Megyn Kelly, America's Election Headquarters, 10/27/08]
"But the most disturbing criticism is coming from the Obama campaign itself. They're furious that FNC reports on Ayers, Acorn, and the new audiotape yesterday, where Obama once again endorsed income redistribution as economic justice. For the record, those are socialistic terms. There's no question about it. So my question to the Obama campaign is this, are we not supposed to report that stuff? Come on." [Bill O'Reilly, The O'Reilly Factor, 10/28/08]
"You know, we're not taking three words out of context here. He said the Supreme Court ventured into areas of redistribution of wealth. He felt they didn't go far enough. He said, I'm not optimistic about bringing the economic change through the courts. The system isn't structured that way, and -- but he repeatedly showed that that's what he wants, socialism." [Sean Hannity, Hannity and Colmes, 10/27/08]
"But the problem is that Obama has nothing new to say. He has the same 47 million uninsured, which includes illegal immigrants, but he doesn't say that. I do in "Fleeced." He has the same bit about increased taxes on people making more than $250,000. He has all the same stuff. And he doesn't really have anything new to say. Whereas McCain has volumes of new stuff to say, about income redistribution, sharing the wealth, this recent quote of Obama's that was a tragedy that the United States Supreme Court never addressed the issue of redistributing the nation's wealth to achieve social and economic justice, which is as close to Marxism as we're going to have in this country. That stuff is new. And I think McCain is scurrying with it." [Dick Morris, The O'Reilly Factor, 10/29/08]
"'There was a little bit of campaign confusion. 'Joe the Plumber' Wurzelbacher wasn't scheduled to show up until later in the day. Big numbers turned out in tiny Tiffin, Ohio, when the Straight Talk Express rolled in, and then it was on to Sandusky for the big John McCain/'Joe the Plumber' joint appearance. But when the man who used the word socialism to describe Barack Obama's plan to spread the wealth around, he didn't actually endorse McCain the first time out." [Carl Cameron, Special Report with Brit Hume, 10/30/08]
Methodology. Media Matters searched the Nexis database for "Obama w/seg (social! OR commun! OR Marx!)" between October 27 and November 4, 2008 (inclusive) on Fox News. The results only cover primetime cable television, thus, this analysis does not cover any daytime programming. Media Matters only counted an individual's inferences once per segment; however, if the same individual expressed similar statements in a subsequent segment, that would be counted separately.