FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Jess Levin (202) 772-8162
Media Matters releases FIFTH internal email from Fox News
Washington, DC -- Today, Media Matters for America released the fifth in a series of leaked internal emails from Fox News. The latest, sent by Washington bureau managing editor Bill Sammon to Fox News staff shortly after President Obama's June 2009 speech in Cairo, had the subject line "FYI: My cursory check of Obama's 6,000-word speech to the Muslim world did not turn up the words 'terror,' 'terrorist' or 'terrorism.'" This email's contents quickly became the focus of segments on Obama's speech -- despite the fact that Obama devoted a significant section of his remarks to denouncing and confronting Al Qaeda and other "violent extremists who pose a grave threat to our security."
"Even though Bill Sammon's 'cursory check' was wildly misleading, it was repeated almost verbatim by Fox hosts," said Ari Rabin-Havt, Vice President for Research and Communications at Media Matters for America. "These emails are painting a very disturbing picture of just how much of a force Bill Sammon is inside Fox News."
On June 4, 2009, a couple of hours after President Obama delivered his much-anticipated speech in Cairo regarding America's relationship with the Muslim world, Bill Sammon sent an email to Fox News staff with no text and the following subject line:
From: Sammon, Bill
Sent: Thursday, June 04, 2009 9:23 AM
To: 169 -SPECIAL REPORT; 069 -Politics; 036 -FOX.WHU; 030 -Root (FoxNews.Com); 050 -Senior Producers; 051 -Producers
Cc: Clemente, Michael; Stack, John; Wallace, Jay
Subject: FYI: My cursory check of Obama's 6,000-word speech to the Muslim world did not turn up the words "terror," "terrorist" or "terrorism"
Ten minutes later after sending the email, Sammon appeared on America's Newsroom -- one of Fox's supposedly objective daytime "news" shows -- with host Megyn Kelly. Introducing the segment, Kelly said: "Well, the president talked a lot in his speech today about reaching out to Muslims. What he did not talk a lot about was terror." The on-screen text for the segment asked: "Why didn't Pres Obama use the word 'terror' in Cairo speech?"
When asked what he made of Obama not mentioning "terror, the war on terror, or terrorism," Sammon responded, "Well, I make of it that he has taken us off a war footing as a nation."
Sammon's criticism, however, was misleading. Obama devoted a significant section of his remarks to denouncing and confronting Al Qaeda and other "violent extremists who pose a grave threat to our security." Sammon's complaint also disregarded the analyses of Middle East and terrorism experts who viewed Obama's word choice as an effort to remove as a source of tension terms that, through overuse and misuse, have become incendiary in the Muslim world.
The New York Times noted the rationale behind Obama's word choice in a June 4, 2009, article:
But while he spoke uncompromisingly of the American fight against Al Qaeda, Mr. Obama never mentioned the words "terrorism" or "terrorist." That was a departure from the language used by the Bush administration, but one that some Middle East experts suggested reflected a belief by the new administration that overuse had made the words inflammatory.
Sammon's "cursory check" was the focus of segments on Studio B with Shepard Smith, Hannity, and Fox & Friends. On that night's edition of Fox News' Special Report, host Bret Baier read Sammon's email almost verbatim saying: "It lasted a little over 55 minutes, was 6,000 words. Words that you did not hear in the speech -- 'terror,' 'terrorist,' or 'terrorism' -- although the president did talk about the 9-11 attacks and a lot of other topics."
Previously, Media Matters noted how an email from Sammon attempting to link then-Sen. Obama to "Marxists" and "socialism" inspired segments on Fox's "opinion" and "news" shows. Sources familiar with the situation in Fox's Washington bureau have told Media Matters that Sammon uses his position to "slant" Fox's news coverage to the right. Sammon has additionally instructed reporters to adopt Republican terminology when reporting on health care reform and to cast doubt on climate change science.