Fox's Bill Sammon Problem

››› ››› BEN DIMIERO

Fox News Washington managing editor Bill Sammon boasted that he repeatedly lied during the final days of the 2008 presidential campaign when he speculated on-air "about whether Barack Obama really advocated socialism." Sammon has repeatedly used his position at Fox to slant the network's news coverage to the right.

Sammon Pushed Obama/Socialism Smear That He Privately Found "Far-Fetched"

Sammon: Engaged In "Mischievous Speculation About Whether Barack Obama Really Advocated Socialism" Even Though He "Privately" Thought That Was "Far-Fetched." During a speech on a high-priced cruise, Sammon admitted he promoted the idea that Barack Obama "really advocated socialism" on Fox News prior to the 2008 election, even though he "privately" found the concept "far-fetched":

Speaking in 2009 onboard a pricey Mediterranean cruise sponsored by a right-wing college, Fox Washington managing editor Bill Sammon described his attempts the previous year to link Obama to "socialism" as "mischievous speculation." Sammon, who is also a Fox News vice president, acknowledged that "privately" he had believed that the socialism allegation was "rather far-fetched."

"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,' " said Sammon. "At that time, 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." [Media Matters, 3/29/11]

Days Before '08 Election, Sammon Tied Obama To Socialism. In the final days before the 2008 election, Sammon used his position at Fox to engage in a campaign linking then-Sen. Barack Obama to "socialism" and "Marxists." On October 27, 2008, Sammon sent an email to colleagues highlighting "Obama's references to socialism, liberalism, Marxism and Marxists" in his 1995 autobiography. Sammon subsequently appeared on multiple Fox programs -- and penned an article for FoxNews.com -- promoting Obama's ties to "Marxists."

From: Sammon, Bill
Sent: Monday, October 27, 2008 1:02 PM
To: 069 -Politics; 169 -SPECIAL REPORT; 030 -Root (FoxNews.Com)
Subject: fyi: Obama's references to socialism, liberalism, Marxism and Marxists in his autobiography, "Dreams from My Father." Plus a couple of his many self-described "racial obsessions"...

* "To avoid being mistaken for a sellout, I chose my friends carefully. The more politically active black students. The foreign students. The Chicanos. The Marxist professors and structural feminists." (Obama writing about his time at Occidental College in "Dreams.")

* After his sophomore year, Obama transferred to Columbia University. He lived on Manhattan's Upper East Side, venturing to the East Village for "the socialist conferences I sometimes attended at Cooper Union," he recalled, adding: "Much of what I absorbed from the sixties was filtered through my mother, who to the end of her life would proudly proclaim herself an unreconstructed liberal."

* After graduating from Columbia in 1983, Obama spent a year working for a consulting firm and then went to work for "a Ralph Nader offshoot" in Harlem. "In search of some inspiration, I went to hear Kwame Toure, formerly Stokely Carmichael of SNCC and Black Panther fame, speak at Columbia. At the entrance to the auditorium, two women, one black, one Asian, were selling Marxist literature."

During this period, according to Obama, he began a serious romantic relationship.

* "There was a woman in New York that I loved. She was white," Obama wrote in "Dreams." "We saw each other for almost a year. On the weekends, mostly. Sometimes in her apartment, sometimes in mine. You know how you can fall into your own private world? Just two people, hidden and warm. Your own language. Your own customs." But Obama said their relationship was doomed by the racial difference. "I pushed her away," he recalled."The emotion between the races could never be pure; even love was tarnished by the desire to find in the other some element that was missing from ourselves. Whether we sought out our demons or salvation, the other race would always remain just that: menacing, alien, and apart."

* In June 1985, Obama was interviewed in New York by Marty Kaufman, a community organizer from Chicago. Obama recalled: "There was something about him that made me wary. A little too sure of himself, maybe. And white." [Media Matters, 2/1/11]

Sammon Uses Position To "Slant News To The Right"

Source: Sammon Exerts "Pressure" On News Staff To "Slant News To The Right." A source with knowledge of the situation at Fox's Washington bureau told Media Matters that Sammon shapes the news coverage in a "brutish way":

Sources tell Media Matters that the situation in the Fox Washington bureau represents a dramatic change from when Hume was managing editor.

According to one source, the pressure to slant Fox's reporting is coming from Sammon himself. Another source says that directives are coming from Fox management in New York and that Sammon -- unlike [former Fox Washington managing editor Brit] Hume -- doesn't have enough sway to push back.

The allegations fly in the face of Fox's claim that its news division is straight down the middle and not opinionated.

"[There is] more pressure from Sammon to slant news to the right or to tell people how to report news, doing it in a more brutish way," one source with knowledge of the situation said. "A lot of the reporters are conservative and are glad to pick up news. But there is a point at which it is no longer reporting, but distorting things."

"Brit Hume was also encouraging people to look at things with other points of view. Brit was smart to see that a lot of mainstream media ignore certain points of view," the source added. "That was a smart and effective way to build the Fox brand. [Media Matters, 10/29/10]

Fox Source: "If Things Are Being Classed As News That Aren't, That Is A Problem." Discussing the situation in the Washington bureau during an interview with Media Matters, a Fox source said:

"People are allowed to have opinions when they espouse opinions. But when news is being tampered with, you have to worry. I keep hearing things from staffers about Sammon."

"I think Sammon comes up with this himself. It takes a conservative slant; it is his news judgment. If things are being classed as news that aren't, that is a problem." [Media Matters, 12/9/10]

FOXLEAKS: Internal Emails Show Pattern Of Sammon Slanting Bureau's News Coverage

Sammon Ordered News Staff To Cast Doubt On Established Climate Science. In an email sent to the network's journalists during global climate talks in 2009, Sammon wrote:

From: Sammon, Bill
To: 169 -SPECIAL REPORT; 036 -FOX.WHU; 054 -FNSunday; 030 -Root (FoxNews.Com); 050 -Senior Producers; 051 -Producers; 069 -Politics; 005 -Washington
Cc: Clemente, Michael; Stack, John; Wallace, Jay; Smith, Sean
Sent: Tue Dec 08 12:49:51 2009
Subject: Given the controversy over the veracity of climate change data...

...we should refrain from asserting that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question. It is not our place as journalists to assert such notions as facts, especially as this debate intensifies.

Sammon's directive was issued less than 15 minutes after Fox correspondent Wendell Goler accurately reported on-air that the United Nations' World Meteorological Organization announced that 2000-2009 was "on track to be the warmest [decade] on record." Contrary to Sammon's email, the National Climatic Data Center explains that the warming trend "is apparent in all of the independent methods of calculating global temperature change" and "is also confirmed by other independent observations." Moreover, the so-called "Climategate scandal" that Sammon was apparently referencing was based on falsehoods and gross distortions of emails written by climate scientists. Scientists, independent fact-checkers, and several investigations have since confirmed that the CRU emails do not undermine the overwhelming scientific consensus that human activity is warming the planet. [Media Matters, 12/15/10]

Sammon Directed News Staff Not To Use Phrase "Public Option." At the height of the health care reform debate in 2009, Sammon sent a memo to Fox News' journalists directing them not to use the phrase "public option," but instead "government option" and similar phrases. Sammon's directive echoed advice from top Republican pollster Frank Luntz on how the GOP could turn public opinion against Democrats' reform efforts.

From: Sammon, Bill
Sent: Tuesday, October 27, 2009 8:23 AM
To: 054 -FNSunday; 169 -SPECIAL REPORT; 069 -Politics; 030 -Root (FoxNews.Com); 036 -FOX.WHU; 050 -Senior Producers; 051 -Producers
Subject: friendly reminder: let's not slip back into calling it the "public option"

1) Please use the term "government-run health insurance" or, when brevity is a concern, "government option," whenever possible.

2) When it is necessary to use the term "public option" (which is, after all, firmly ensconced in the nation's lexicon), use the qualifier "so-called," as in "the so-called public option."

3) Here's another way to phrase it: "The public option, which is the government-run plan."

4) When newsmakers and sources use the term "public option" in our stories, there's not a lot we can do about it, since quotes are of course sacrosanct. [Media Matters, 12/9/10]

Sammon Slanted Fox's Coverage Of Obama's 2009 Cairo Speech. Shortly after President Obama's June 2009 speech in Cairo, Sammon sent an email to Fox's journalists pointing out that Obama did not use "the words 'terror,' 'terrorist' or 'terrorism.' " 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." Nevertheless, the critique was repeated -- both by Sammon and other network personalities -- throughout the network's coverage of the speech.

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" [Media Matters, 2/8/11]

Sammon: Obama's "Views On The White Race" Are "Fairly Controversial."

Sammon: Obama's "Views On The White Race" Are "Fairly Controversial." During a 2008 appearance on conservative Hugh Hewitt's radio program, Sammon, then a Fox News contributor, said, "I've always felt that it's not going to be Jeremiah Wright's views on race that are necessarily going to doom Barack Obama's presidential bid. It's Barack Obama's own views on the white race which are, I think, fairly controversial." [Media Matters, 3/21/11]

Sammon's Fox News Colleagues Describe Him As A "Conservative"

Bill O'Reilly: Sammon "Obviously Is A Conservative And Coming From That Point Of View." During The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly introduced Sammon by stating, "Mr. Sammon obviously is a conservative and coming from that point of view." [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 6/5/01, via Nexis]

Chris Wallace To Sammon: "I Think It's Fair To Say You Tilt Conservative." During a discussion about Ted Kennedy's legacy shortly after his death, Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace told Sammon that "I think it's fair to say you tilt conservative." Sammon did not object to the characterization. From the August 30, 2009 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday:

WALLACE: How do you reconcile the fact, Bill -- I mean, I think it's fair to say you tilt conservative in your views -- with the fact that this was a fellow in the arena, obviously liberal, was taking the country in a direction that perhaps you didn't admire, but that he did have a lot of people whom he touched and who felt that he represented them?

SAMMON: Hey, I grew up in a Irish-Catholic working-class neighborhood of Cleveland where Kennedy was a hero. It was a Democratic neighborhood, and he was an effective legislator. There's no question about it.

And you know, I saw that interview clip that you just showed from 2006. During that clip, you know, you're asking him about liberalism, and so on and so forth, and I noticed that he was one of the few senators to vote against welfare reform, for example.

So in other words, there's liberalism and then there's dogmatic liberalism. Everybody -- I mean, Bill Clinton signed welfare reform. It went on to, by most experts' analysis, greatly improve -- it drove down the number of jobless unmarried women. It drove down child poverty.

But Kennedy clung to the idea that you had to oppose that kind of thing. And so, yeah -- was he an effective legislator? Yes. Was he terribly flexible on ideology? No. [Fox, Fox News Sunday, 8/30/09, via Nexis]

Sammon Has Fundraised For Conservatives

Sammon Attended High-Priced Fundraising Retreat For Conservative Activist David Horowitz's Organization. Sammon was a panelist at a 2006 fundraising retreat for conservative activist David Horowitz's Center for the Study of Popular Culture (now The David Horowitz Freedom Center). Sammon appeared on a panel discussing "The Media and the War" with conservative activist Frank Gaffney, Andrew Breitbart, and conservative radio host Tammy Bruce. Sammon opened his remarks by saying, "It's great to be here because I normally spend my days working and traveling with the White House press corps, and therefore it's not very often I find myself in a room surrounded by this much common sense." [Media Matters, 2/8/11]

Sammon Gave Keynote Speech At Fundraiser For Monroe County Conservative Party. In 2003, Sammon gave the keynote speech at the annual fundraising dinner for the Monroe County Conservative Party in upstate New York. According to a newsletter announcing Sammon's appearance, the fundraising dinner is the Monroe County Conservative Party's "primary source of funds which enables us to operate as an effective and respected political party." [Media Matters, 2/8/11]

Sammon Wrote Several Fawning Books About Bush Campaigns, Administration

At Any Cost: How Al Gore Tried to Steal the Election. Sammon is the author of At Any Cost: How Al Gore Tried to Steal the Election (Regnery Publishing, 2001). According to Amazon.com, the book's inside flap reads in part:

Al Gore was furious. He wasn't supposed to lose.

Drawing on exhaustive, on-the-scene reporting and exclusive interviews with the key players -- including President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard B. Cheney -- Washington Times reporter Bill Sammon has written the definitive account of the most contentious presidential election in U.S. history.

At Any Cost is a breathtaking examination of Vice President Al Gore's audacious and unprecedented effort to overturn the presidential election. Desperate to forestall the spectacular collapse of his political career and determined to inflict as much damage as possible on Bush, Gore pulled out all the stops in an extraordinary, thirty-six day campaign of scorched-earth political warfare that propelled the nation to the brink of a constitutional crisis.

[...]

At Any Cost is a gripping, must-read account of the biggest attempted larceny in the history of American politics. [Amazon.com, accessed 3/29/11]

Fighting Back: The War on Terrorism From Inside the Bush White House. Sammon is the author of Fighting Back: The War on Terrorism-From Inside the Bush White House (Regnery Publishing, 2002). Regnery's promotional materials state of the book:

The First Book Ever on George W. Bush's Presidency...
WARTIME PRESIDENT
How Bush Led America Through "the Middle Hour of our Grief"

The Democrats underestimated him. The media ridiculed him. But when terror struck on September 11, 2001, George Bush proved what kind of man he truly is. And, as Bill Sammon recounts in his new book, that was just the beginning.

In Fighting Back, you get the first book ever on George W. Bush's presidency -- and the first comprehensive look at how Bush is leading the war on terror. From the moment when Andy Card whispered into his President's ear "Mr. President, America is under attack," best-selling author Bill Sammon brings us an eye-witness account of that historic day, and the days that follow.

[...]

Fighting Back gives you an extraordinarily dramatic, blow-by-blow account of a President thrust into a new kind of war. It describes history in the making, and the emergence of a great leader. [Regnery.com, accessed 3/29/11]

Misunderestimated: The President Battles Terrorism, Media Bias, and the Bush Haters. Sammon is the author of Misunderestimated: The President Battles Terrorism, Media Bias, and the Bush Haters (HarperCollins, 2005). The publisher's promotional materials state of the book:

"They misunderestimated me," George W. Bush famously remarked on the eve of his historic presidency. Fractured syntax aside, Bush was right: his detractors misunderstood his appeal to the American public, and underestimated his considerable political skills. In this compelling new book, Bill Sammon reveals how the president is turning these misperceptions to his advantage in the looming showdown with John Kerry and the Bush haters.

As senior White House correspondent for the Washington Times, Sammon has been granted extraordinary access to the president and his closest confidants, from political gurus Karl Rove and Andy Card to foreign policy advisers Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice. The result is a compelling chronicle of the second eighteen months of George W. Bush's term, as the administration's focus shifts from al Qaeda and Afghanistan to Iraq and the 2004 election. Sammon's on-the-scene reporting and exclusive interviews with the president and his top advisers reveal how the White House is implementing the most profound shift in U.S. foreign policy in more than half a century, prompting an eminent Democratic historian to rank Bush alongside John Quincy Adams and Franklin Delano Roosevelt as one of America's "grand" strategists.

[...]

Misunderestimated also meticulously tracks the rise of the Bush haters, a disturbing political phenomenon that colors everything from the war on terrorism to the presidential campaign. The impact extends to the press, which Sammon exposes for racing to brand Operation Iraqi Freedom another Vietnam "quagmire" less than eighteen months after making the same blunder during the Afghan war. [HarperCollins.com, accessed 3/29/11]

Strategery: How George W. Bush Is Defeating Terrorists, Outwitting Democrats, and Confounding the Mainstream Media. Sammon is the author of Strategery: How George W. Bush Is Defeating Terrorists, Outwitting Democrats, and Confounding the Mainstream Media (Regnery Publishing, 2006). Regnery's promotional materials state of the book:

Strategery chronicles the perpetually "misunderestimated" president as he vanquishes John Kerry and then embarks on a breathtakingly audacious second-term agenda. He vows to rein in the judicial activism of a runaway Supreme Court, defeat the "Bush haters" who blame him for Hurricane Katrina, and, in his spare time, end tyranny around the globe. Strategery is a remarkably vivid portrait of the president as he is seldom seen.

[...]

Strategery is the third installment in a multi-volume set of New York Times bestsellers chronicling this unlikely yet historic presidency, written with verve and piercing insight by Bill Sammon, who has been granted unprecedented access to President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Karl Rove, and other senior White House officials. [Regnery.com, accessed 3/29/11]

The Evangelical President: George Bush's Struggle to Spread a Moral Democracy Throughout the World. Sammon is the author of The Evangelical President: George Bush's Struggle to Spread a Moral Democracy Throughout the World (Regnery Publishing, 2007). Regnery's promotional materials state of the book:

But through it all, Sammon shows that President Bush took the high road, fighting to spread moral democracy around the world while the low-minded press focused on Vice President Cheney's accidental shooting of a friend while hunting and Virginia senator George Allen's use of the word macaca on the campaign trail

[...]

The Evangelical President is an unforgettable glimpse of a president at war, supported by an evangelical belief that tyranny should be overthrown, democracy supported, and America defended, combined with a steely stubbornness to see those goals through. [Regnery.com, acessed 3/29/11]

Reviewers: Sammon Books Are "Conservative Polemic," He Makes "No Secret Of His Admiration" Of Bush

Plain Dealer Review: At Any Cost Is "A Conservative Polemic," A "Mean-Spirited Political Assessment." In a June 24, 2001, review of At Any Cost for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Sammon's former employer, Dylan Foley writes:

Bluntly put, 'At Any Cost' is a conservative polemic in which Sammon uses his reporting skills to advance his thesis that Al Gore and the Gore campaign used fraud and deceit to try to snatch the presidency from George W. Bush. The book is a mix of good journalism and mean-spirited political assessment of the Florida vote-counting scandals." He concludes: "In a college course 20 years from now, 'At Any Cost' would deserve a place on the syllabus as a conservative view of the Florida disgrace. It's a well-written book by an established journalist that would be an enjoyable book for conservative true believers. [Cleveland Plain Dealer, 6/24/01, accessed via Nexis]

Wash. Times Review: In Fighting Back, Sammon "Makes No Secret Of His Admiration Of The President." In an October 27, 2002, review of Fighting Back for The Washington Times, Sammon's employer at the time, Roger Fontaine writes that in the book, Sammon "makes no secret of his admiration of the president -- which is fine -- there is plenty of the opposite from other journalists and pundits who don't fare too well in this account." [The Washington Times, 10/27/02, accessed via Nexis]

Sammon's Publisher Exists To Prop Up Conservative Movement

Regnery States They Are "Central To The Conservative Movement Today." From the "History of Regnery" posted at their website:

When the Henry Regnery Company first opened its doors in 1947, its mission was to contribute to the rebuilding of Western civilization after World War II, publishing serious works of cultural recovery, including, as it turned out, establishing and sustaining the postwar conservative intellectual movement in America.

[...]

The conservative movement has grown, over the last 62 years, from a few intellectuals, economists, editorial writers, and authors to become the most vibrant political and intellectual movement that the country has ever known. Regnery Publishing is as central to the conservative movement today, as it was nearly sixty two years ago when Henry Regnery helped start it. [Regnery.com, accessed 3/29/11]

Regnery Describes Itself As "The Nation's Preeminent Conservative Publisher." From a letter posted by Regnery president and publisher Marji Ross:

Regnery Publishing, the nation's preeminent conservative publisher, is truly on a roll. Over the past three years we have produced no less than 25 bestsellers! Included in that list is the election-year blockbuster Unfit for Command, which reached #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. Other books to make the list include William F. Buckley Jr.'s autobiographical Miles Gone By, Richard Miniter's Shadow War, Robert "Buzz" Patterson's Reckless Disregard, David Horowitz's Unholy Alliance, and Rowan Scarborough's Rumsfeld's War. [Regnery.com, accessed 3/29/11]

Regnery Publishes A "Who's Who" Of The Conservative Movement. Regnery authors include: Haley Barbour, Bill Bennett, Tony Blankley, Pat Buchanan, Jerome Corsi, Ann Coulter, Erick Erickson, Steve Forbes, Maggie Gallagher, Newt Gingrich, Dennis Hastert, Laura Ingraham, Terence Jeffrey, Wayne LaPierre, G. Gordon Liddy, Rich Lowry, Michelle Malkin, Oliver North, Mitt Romney, Peter Sprigg, Marc Thiessen, and Emmett Tyrrell. [Regnery.com, accessed 3/29/11]

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