Earlier this month, Bret Baier, who hosts Fox News' Special Report, sat for an interview with the Daily Show's Jon Stewart. During the interview, Baier argued that his program, which is Fox's flagship straight "news" show, is objective and under no political pressure to slant coverage.
"I have a morning meeting," said Baier. "We talk about the news of the day. We have correspondents all over the world. We say, 'What's happening?' The thing develops throughout the day. Today in Syria, there were 25 people killed. In Yemen, the president's going to step down in a couple of days. We've got the situation in Libya. I just got back from Afghanistan. That's not faking it. That's real stuff."
Baier went on to reject the idea that "the entire network is driven by this top-down" process in which he gets "a call" dictating slanted news coverage.
But the meetings Baier referenced, which take place at 10:30 every morning at the network's D.C. bureau office, do not consist solely of legitimate news reporters. As Baier explained in a November 18, 2010, blog post, those present at the daily meeting include Bill Sammon, Fox News' controversial Washington managing editor and vice president of news.
"If you were in our meeting with us," wrote Baier, "you would hear me and our team- my Executive Producer Doug Rohrbeck, our Washington Managing Editor, Bill Sammon, our Digital Politics Editor Chris Stirewalt, our entire Special Report staff, and other crucial members of our Fox team -debate what takes precedence, and what you, the viewers, would most like to see."
As Media Matters has disclosed, Sammon has repeatedly directed Fox journalists -- including those who appear on Special Report -- to slant their coverage to the right, pushing conservative talking points, misleading attacks, and outright falsehoods.
And in the weeks leading up to the 2008 election, Sammon used his Fox News position to engage in a campaign to link Barack Obama to "Marxists" and "socialism." Newly uncovered audio reveals that in 2009, Sammon described his attempts the previous year to link Obama to "socialism" as "mischievous speculation." Sammon acknowledged that "privately" he had believed that the socialism allegation was "rather far-fetched."