When Fox's Washington, D.C., managing editor Bill Sammon emailed newsroom staffers in late October, 2009, reminding them that when covering the unfolding health care debate, they were to avoid the commonly accepted phrase "public option," and instead describe proposed Democratic reform as "government run," maybe he should have cc'd primetime host Greta Van Susteren.
It turns out the night before Sammon's Oct. 27 memo went out with his "friendly reminder" to avoid "public option," Van Susteren hosted a health care conversation with Republican senators Lindsey Graham and John Cornyn, in which none of them could stop referring to the "public option." The expression came up more than two dozen times on the program. In fact, the headline for the show that night was, "Can the Public Option Get Through the Senate"?
Van Susteren's fondness for "public option" simply highlights how common and widely used the suddenly frowned-upon phrase was when Sammon effectively banned it inside the Fox newsroom. And how the Fox News edict so closely followed Republican poll-testing on the "public option" language.