Jon Stewart Gets It Right About Fox News
Fox News has attacked Daily Show host Jon Stewart for claiming that Fox News viewers are "the most consistently misinformed viewers" of cable news. However, Stewart was correct -- Fox News consistently misinforms its viewers, and its viewers are found among the most likely to hold misinformed beliefs about current events.
Stewart: "Who Is The Most Consistently Misinformed Media Viewers? ... Fox Viewers, Consistently, Every Poll."
In a June 19 interview with Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace, Daily Show host Jon Stewart asked: "Who is the most consistently misinformed media viewers? The most consistently misinformed? Fox. Fox viewers, consistently, every poll." [Fox News, Fox News Sunday, 6/19/11  via Media Matters]
PolitiFact Rates Stewart's Fox News Sunday Remarks "False." In a June 20 PolitiFact.com post, Jon Stewart's comments regarding Fox News viewers being "consistently misinformed" were given a rating of "false." From PolitiFact.com:
So we have three Pew studies that superficially rank Fox viewers low on the well-informed list, but in several of the surveys, Fox isn't the lowest, and other general-interest media outlets -- such as network news shows, network morning shows and even the other cable news networks -- often score similarly low. Meanwhile, particular Fox shows -- such as The O'Reilly Factor and Sean Hannity's show -- actually score consistently well, occasionally even outpacing Stewart's own audience.
Meanwhile, the other set of knowledge surveys, from worldpublicopinion.org , offer mixed support for Stewart. The 2003 survey strikes us as pretty solid, but the 2010 survey has been critiqued for its methodology.
The way Stewart phrased the comment, it's not enough to show a sliver of evidence that Fox News' audience is ill-informed. The evidence needs to support the view that the data shows they are "consistently" misinformed -- a term he used not once but three times. It's simply not true that "every poll" shows that result. So we rate his claim False. [PolitiFact.com, 6/20/11 ]
O'Reilly Claims "Stewart's Spin" Was False, Encourages Viewers To Visit PolitiFact. During the June 21 edition of his Fox News program, host Bill O'Reilly addressed an email his show received regarding the polls Jon Stewart mentioned in his Fox News Sunday interview with Chris Wallace. From The O'Reilly Factor:
BILL O'REILLY: Morley Hanford, Edmonton, Canada: Jon Stewart said that polls show Fox News viewers are ill informed. Do those polls exist? Well, according to PoliFacts.com [sic], Stewart's assertion is false, Morley. If you want the stats, they are available on that website. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 6/21/11]
Fox & Friends Jumps To Defend Misinformed Fox Viewers. From the June 22 broadcast of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
STEVE DOOCY (co-host): Here's the problem. Politifact, which is the Pulitzer Prize-winning website - they've got the Truth-O-Meter - they said that what he said is absolutely false. And, Exhibit A, ladies and gentleman and the folks over at Comedy Central, take a look at this. This survey was conducted by Pew Media. It was their consumption survey, and it asked cable news network viewers a series of four questions to test how much they knew about what was going on in the world.
MARTHA MacCALLUM (guest host): And look at the numbers -- 20 percent of those, Fox viewers got them right, MSNBC down at 17 percent, CNN was in third place with 14 percent getting those questions right. You know I -
DOOCY: So the Fox News viewer is the most informed of the cable news according to Pew, Johnny.
MacCALLUM: He didn't reference any polls. I'd love to know what polls he's talking about.
BRIAN KILMEADE (co-host): He said all the polls.
MacCALLUM: All the polls.
KILMEADE: So he's already proven [in]correct.
DOOCY: I think he's talking about all the polls he's conducted at Comedy Central, at MSNBC, at the Daily Kos, at the Huffington Post. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 6/22/11]
Jane Hamsher: PolitiFact.com "Use[d] Three Polls That Don't Apply To What" Stewart "Said." In a June 21 Firedoglake post, Jane Hamsher wrote:
Politifact often does a good service checking the veracity (or lack thereof) of controversial claims made by public figures. But they seem to have encountered some difficulty fact-checking Jon Stewart's claim that Fox Viewers are "the most consistently misinformed media viewers."
Politifact maintains that Stewart is wrong about Fox viewers, based on the findings of five different polls. Three were conducted by the Pew Foundation: 2007 Political Knowledge Survey, 2008 Media Survey, and the 2010 Media Consumption Survey. Two were conducted by the University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA): 2003 Misperceptions, the Media and the Iraq War, and 2010 Misinformation and the 2010 Election.
The three Pew polls measure how informed viewers are. They don't even belong in the discussion, because they don't go to Stewart's point. "Do you know who the Secretary of State is" or "what is the name of the Vice President" are questions that you can answer if you're paying attention. There is no shortage of people who go glassy-eyed and stupid while staring at cable news, and I'm proud to be one of them. I can feel the lull of Kathleen Parker's voice shaving points off my IQ. I might be able to tell you who the Secretary of Education is under ordinary circumstances, but freely admit that listening to Bill Bennett drone on about anything is enough to flip the switch on enough synapses that answering any question becomes a challenge. It's a guilty pleasure for people who don't smoke pot.
On the other hand, the two PIPA studies measure how misinformed viewers are. That's a very different yardstick. Listening to Dana Bash may freeze a few neurons in the "off" position, and I may not get the news value that I should out of the segment, but unless she says something that is manifestly untrue I can't claim to have been misinformed.
By Politifact's own measure, Jon Stewart was right when he claimed that "every study" has found Fox viewers to be consistently the most misinformed - because every study they cite which surveys "misinformation" draws that conclusion. Politifact is wrong to interject meaning that was outside of what Stewart claimed, and then use three polls that don't apply to what he said to measure the veracity of that claim. [Firedoglake, 6/21/11  emphasis in original]
World Public Opinion Director: "[F]or Fox Viewers, On Nine Points Of Information, Increased Exposure Correlated With Increased Misinformation." On June 21, PolitiFact.com published a follow-up article noting criticism of its analysis of Stewart's claim and included a response from Steven Kull, the director of WorldPublicOpinion.org:
Generally speaking, readers viewed the three Pew studies -- which we saw as some of the strongest evidence undercutting Stewart's position -- as irrelevant because they were testing factual knowledge, and if someone got one of those questions wrong, it wasn't because they had been "misinformed" but rather because they were simply "uninformed."
By contrast, many readers argued that the only legitimate way to test Stewart's thesis was to refer to the  worldpublicopinion.org  studies, since they tested the extent of beliefs that were the result of misinformation, whether it's Barack Obama being born in Kenya or the stimulus not creating or preserving a significant number of jobs.
Steven Kull, the director of WorldPublicOpinion.org, wrote us after the story appeared to say that testing for lack of knowledge is not enough. "We analyzed the effect of increased exposure to news outlets. We found that with all other outlets, increased exposure generally resulted in less misinformation. However, for Fox viewers, on nine points of information, increased exposure correlated with increased misinformation. This was true of only one point of information for public broadcasting and MSNBC viewers, and two points of information for network news. This effect was found in the 2003 study as well. Fox viewers were the only group for whom increased exposure resulted in greater misinformation."
Kull added that, "simply on face value, such issues as knowledge of who was vice president are unlikely to be related to exposure to news outlets. Information on issues that were very foreground in media reporting and analysis, which ours were, are more likely to be related to exposure" to media outlets. [PolitiFact, 6/21/11 ]
Adam Serwer: "The Problem With Politfact's Work On This Is That They're Really Comparing Apples And Oranges." In a June 22 American Prospect post, Adam Serwer wrote:
The problem with Politfact's work on this is that they're really comparing apples and oranges. The Pew studies measured viewers' knowledge of certain basic matters that no one is actually suggesting Fox News misinforms its viewers on. No one is arguing that Fox News misleads its audience about which party controls Congress, what volcano erupted last week, or whether John Bolton's mustache is secretary of state. Jane Hamsher had a good response to this, pointing out that being "misinformed" and "ill-informed" are not the same thing. An avid watcher of Fox News would likely be able to identify the speaker of the House or the attorney general, but they're also far more likely to think the president was born in Kenya. Put another way, someone who erroneously believes that the Civil War was fought over "states' rights" and not slavery would still likely know which side of the war Robert E. Lee fought on.
Rather, the issues on which Fox misinforms its viewers are on matters of fact that conservatives would like not to be true. For instance, one recent study that Politfact shied away from because conservatives "criticized its methodology" is the only one that actually measures public knowledge on the issues in question. That survey found that Fox News viewers were far more likely to believe, falsely, that most scientists don't believe climate change is happening, that there were no tax cuts in the stimulus, that income taxes have gone up, and that Obama wasn't born in the United States. It's fair to question whether or not respondents should be asked questions about what "economists" thought of the stimulus, but that problem isn't present with many of the other survey questions, which measure easily verifiable facts not subject to interpretation.
In other words, Politfact's fact check evaluates a claim Stewart wasn't actually trying to make. [The American Prospect, 6/22/11 ]
DeSmogBlog's Chris Mooney: PolitiFact's Analysis "Deeply Misguided" As It "Relied Upon Irrelevant And Off-Point Studies." In a June 22 DeSmogBlog post, Chris Mooney wrote:
[I]n an environment in which conservatives are more inaccurate and more misinformed about science and basic policy facts, the "fact checkers" nevertheless feel unduly compelled to correct "liberal" errors too--which is fine, as long as they are really errors.
But sometimes they aren't. A case in point is Politifact's recent and deeply misguided attempt to correct Jon Stewart on the topic of...misinformation and Fox News. This is a subject on which we've developed some expertise here...my recent post on studies showing that Fox News viewers are more misinformed, on an array of issues, is the most comprehensive such collection that I'm aware of, at least when it comes to public opinion surveys detecting statistical correlations between being misinformed about contested facts and Fox News viewership.
What Stewart obviously meant--and what I mean--is that when it comes to politicized, contested issues where the facts have been made murky due to political biases, it is Fox viewers who are the most likely to believe incorrect things--to fall prey to misinformation. A quintessential example of such an issue is global warming, or whether Saddam Hussein's Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction or was collaborating with Al Qaeda. There are many, many others.
To rebut Stewart's claim, Politifact relied upon irrelevant and off-point studies. Thus, the site cited a number of Pew surveys that examine basic political literacy and relate it to what kind of media citizens consume. E.g., questions like whether people know "who the vice president is, who the president of Russia is, whether the Chief Justice is conservative, which party controls the U.S. House of Representatives and whether the U.S. has a trade deficit." [DeSmogBlog, 6/22/11  emphasis in original]
Stanford University Poll: "Frequent Viewers Of Fox News Are Less Likely To Accept Scientists' Views Of Global Warming." A December 2010 report conducted by Stanford University and supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation "explores whether the flow of doubt-arousing messaging might have persuaded Americans who watch Fox News to reject the views espoused by many mainstream natural scientists on the issue." The outcome of the study was that "exposure to skeptical views about global warming can be effective at changing the opinions of viewers." The report was titled, "Frequent Viewers of Fox News Are Less Likely to Accept Scientists' Views of Global Warming." [Stanford University Research Study, December 2010 ]
Fox Viewers Are More Likely To Be Misinformed On Health Care Reform. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll conducted in February regarding the public's understanding of the health care reform law found: "There were also differences by where people get their information with higher shares of those who report CNN (35 percent) or MSNBC (39 percent) as their primary news source getting 7 or more right, compared to those that report mainly watching FOX News (25 percent). Again, these differences may be related to whether or not people more generally favor or oppose the law." [Kaiser Family Foundation, "Assessing Americans' Familiarity With The Health Care Law," February 2011 ]
Ohio State University: "Fox News Contributes To Spread Of Rumors About Proposed NYC Mosque." An October 14, 2010, study conducted by Ohio State University titled, "Fox News Contributes to Spread of Rumors About Proposed NYC Mosque" concluded that "CNN and NPR promote more accurate beliefs," and that Fox viewers "believe more of the rumors" about the NYC mosque and "they believe them more strongly than those who do not." Among the key findings in the study:
People who use Fox News, either online or on television, are more aware of false rumors about the Islamic community center and mosque than those who do not.
- For example, respondents who reported a low reliance on Fox News stated hearing 1.4 rumors (out of 4) on average. In comparison, if the same respondent reported a high reliance on Fox News, they would report hearing 1.9 rumors on average, an increase of 35%.
- In contrast, reliance on other cable news networks, including CNN and MSNBC, does not influence rumor exposure.
- We can only speculate about why this is. For example, perhaps Fox News spent a disproportionate amount of time covering the issue. Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism August 1622 News Coverage Index noted cable news "coverage [of the mosque controversy] was intense" with conservative commentators strongly attacking the proposed mosque project and devoting significant airtime to the issue (see http://www.journalism.org ).
- We also cannot say whether this finding was due to exposure to Fox's hard news programming, its editorial programming, or its website. The survey did not distinguish between these different aspects of the news network.
People who use Fox News, either online or on television, are more aware of false rumors about the Islamic community center and mosque than those who do not.
- For example, a typical respondent who reported a low reliance on Fox News believed .9 rumors on average. If that same respondent reported a high reliance on Fox News, the average number of rumors believed increased by 66% to 1.5.
- This is not just a product of increased exposure. Even among people with comparable rumor exposure, those who got their news from Fox believed more rumors. [Ohio State University Communications Department Study on Fox News, 10/14/10  emphasis in the original]
Fox News Cited As A Major Source Of Misinformation During The 2010 Election. A December 10, 2010, study titled "Misinformation and the 2010 Election" that was conducted by World Public Opinion, a project of the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland, showed that regular Fox News viewers "were significantly more likely" to hold misinformed views. From the study:
Those who watched Fox News almost daily were significantly more likely than those who never watched it to believe that:
- most economists estimate the stimulus caused job losses (12 points more likely)
- most economists have estimated the health care law will worsen the deficit (31 points)
- the economy is getting worse (26 points)
- most scientists do not agree that climate change is occurring (30 points)
- the stimulus legislation did not include any tax cuts (14 points)
- their own income taxes have gone up (14 points)
- the auto bailout only occurred under Obama (13 points)
- when TARP came up for a vote most Republicans opposed it (12 points)
- and that it is not clear that Obama was born in the United States (31 points)
These effects increased incrementally with increasing levels of exposure and all were statistically significant. The effect was also not simply a function of partisan bias, as people who voted Democratic and watched Fox News were also more likely to have such misinformation than those who did not watch it--though by a lesser margin than those who voted Republican.
There were cases with some other news sources as well.
Daily consumers of MSNBC and public broadcasting (NPR and PBS) were higher (34 points and 25 points respectively) in believing that it was proven that the US Chamber of Commerce was spending money raised from foreign sources to support Republican candidates.
Daily watchers of network TV news broadcasts were 12 points higher in believing that TARP was signed into law by President Obama, and 11 points higher in believing that most Republicans oppose TARP.
All of these effects were statistically significant. [The University of Maryland, World Public Opinion Study on Misinformation During the 2010 Election, 12/10/10 ]
NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll: Fox News Viewers Overwhelmingly Misinformed About Health Care Reform Proposals. An August 19, 2009, post to Think Progress summarized the results of an NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll. From the post:
Here's another way to look at the misinformation: In our poll, 72% of self-identified FOX News viewers believe the health-care plan will give coverage to illegal immigrants, 79% of them say it will lead to a government takeover, 69% think that it will use taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions, and 75% believe that it will allow the government to make decisions about when to stop providing care for the elderly. But it would be incorrect to suggest that this is ONLY coming from conservative viewers who tune in to FOX. In fact, 41% of CNN/MSNBC viewers believe the misinformation about illegal immigrants, 39% believe the government takeover stuff, 40% believe the abortion misperception, and 30% believe the stuff about pulling the plug on grandma. What's more, a good chunk of folks who get their news from broadcast TV (NBC, ABC, CBS) believe these things, too. This is about credible messengers using the media to get some of this misinformation out there, not as much about the filter itself. These numbers should worry Democratic operatives, as well as the news media that have been covering this story.
As ThinkProgress has pointed out, Fox News regularly distorts the truth about health care reform. Last week, Media Matters found that over a two day period opponents of health care reform outnumbered supporters by a 6-to-1 margin on Fox. [NBC News/Wall Street Journal via Think Progress, 8/19/09 , emphasis in the original]
Fox Repeatedly Misinforms About Unions, Often Smearing Them As Solely Responsible For States' Budget Problems. As Media Matters has noted, Fox News regularly attacks and misinforms about issues related to labor unions.
For more information about Fox's false claims and misinformation about unions, SEE HERE .
Fox Routinely Misinforms About Taxes, Often While Cheerleading Tax Cuts For The Wealthy. As Media Matters has noted, Fox News regularly misinforms about, and makes false claims while reporting on, issues related to taxes.
For more information about Fox's false claims and misinformation about taxes, SEE HERE .
Fox Regularly Misinforms About Jobs, Often While Attacking President Obama's Stimulus Plan. As Media Matters has noted, Fox News regularly misinforms about and makes false claims about jobs and unemployment, often while attacking the stimulus plan and other Obama economic policies.
For more information about Fox's false claims and misinformation about jobs, SEE HERE .
Fox Regularly Misinforms About Budget Issues, Often While Promoting And Advocating GOP Fiscal Policies. As Media Matters has noted, Fox News regularly misinforms about budget issues and often hypes and advocates for Republican policies.
For more information about Fox's false claims and misinformation about budget issues, SEE HERE .
Fox Regularly Misinforms About Housing, Often While Attacking Affordable Housing Policies Or Blaming Them For The Housing Crisis. As Media Matters has noted, Fox News regularly misinforms its viewers about housing issues, in many cases by demonizing affordable housing policies.
For more information about Fox's false claims and misinformation about housing issues, SEE HERE .
Fox Routinely Misinforms About Social Security, Often Attacking It As A "Ponzi Scheme" Or Misleading About Its Solvency. As Media Matters has noted, Fox News routinely misinforms about Social Security, attacking it as a "Ponzi scheme," or misleading about its solvency.
For more information about Fox's false claims and misinformation about Social Security, SEE HERE .
Fox Regularly Misinforms About Health Care Reform, Often While Fearmongering About "Death Panels," Rationing, And The Law's Cost. As Media Matters has noted, Fox News regularly misinforms about the health care reform law.
For more information about Fox's false claims and misinformation about health care reform, SEE HERE .
Fox Routinely Misinforms About Medicare, Often While Parroting GOP Talking Points, Advocating For GOP Proposals. As Media Matters has noted, Fox News routinely misinforms about Medicare.
For more information about Fox's false claims and misinformation about Medicare, SEE HERE .
Fox Repeatedly Misinforms About Reproductive Choice Issues, Often While Attacking Planned Parenthood. As Media Matters has noted, Fox has a long history of misinforming about reproductive choice issues, often by attacking Planned Parenthood or making false claims about the organization.
For more information about Fox's false claims and misinformation about reproductive choice, SEE HERE .
Fox Regularly Misinforms About Immigration Reform, Often While Promoting Controversial Anti-Immigration Laws. As Media Matters has noted, Fox News regularly misinforms about immigration reform, often while promoting the controversial anti-immigration law in Arizona and attacking or making false claims about the DREAM Act.
For more information about Fox's false claims and misinformation about immigration reform, SEE HERE .
Fox Routinely Misinforms About Border Security, Often By Distorting Obama's Record On Border Security. As Media Matters has noted, Fox News routinely misinforms about border security, often by distorting or making false claims about Obama's record on border security.
For more information about Fox's false claims and misinformation about border security, SEE HERE .
NATIONAL SECURITY/FOREIGN POLICY
Fox Regularly Misinforms About Terrorism Issues, Often While Advocating For The Use Of EITs And Attacking Obama's Efforts To Combat Terrorism. As Media Matters has noted, Fox News regularly misinforms about terrorism-related issues, often while advocating for the use of enhanced interrogation techniques (EITs) and attacking Obama's policies to combat terrorism.
For more information about Fox's false claims and misinformation about terrorism, SEE HERE .
Fox Routinely Misinformed About START Treaty, Often While Claiming That The Treaty Would Harm National Security. As Media Matters has noted, Fox News routinely misinformed and made false claims about the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START).
For more information about Fox's false claims and misinformation about START, SEE HERE .
DIVERSITY AND DISCRIMINATION
Fox Regularly Misinforms About Race And Ethnicity. As Media Matters has noted, Fox News regularly misinforms about, and makes false claims while reporting on, issues related to race and ethnicity and has cheered Rep. Peter King's (R-NY) anti-Muslim hearings.
For more information about Fox's false claims and misinformation about race and ethnicity, SEE HERE .
Fox Regularly Misinforms About Gender While Promoting Sexism. As Media Matters has noted, Fox News regularly misinforms about, and makes false claims while reporting on, issues related to gender and often airs blatantly sexist segments, photographs, and remarks.
For more information about Fox's false claims and misinformation about gender, SEE HERE .
Fox Regularly Misinforms About LGBT Rights. As Media Matters and Equality Matters have noted, Fox News regularly misinforms about, and makes false claims while reporting on, issues related to LGBT rights, as well as being guilty of discrimination.
Fox Regularly Misinforms About Religion, Often By Attacking Islam And Inventing A Supposed "War On Christmas." As Media Matters has noted, Fox News regularly misinforms about, and makes false claims while reporting on, issues related to religion. Among these false claims are those declaring that a "war" has been declared on Christianity and its holidays.
For more information about Fox's false claims and misinformation about religion, SEE HERE .
Fox Regularly Misinforms About Education. As Media Matters has noted, Fox News regularly misinforms about, and makes false claims while reporting on, issues related to public and private education, attacking educational outlets like Columbia University and Sesame Street.
For more information about Fox's false claims and misinformation about education, SEE HERE .
Fox Regularly Misinforms About Oil Drilling And Often Pushes Pro-Drilling Agenda. As Media Matters has noted, Fox News regularly misinforms about, and makes false claims while reporting on, issues related to domestic and international drilling, including the dangers of drilling domestically, as well as misinforming about the ability of domestic oil production to reduce the national price of gasoline.
For more information about Fox's false claims and misinformation about drilling, SEE HERE .
Fox Regularly Misinforms About Climate Change. As Media Matters has noted, Fox News regularly misinforms about, and makes false claims while reporting on, issues related to climate science.
For more information about Fox's false claims and misinformation about climate, SEE HERE .
Fox Regularly Misinforms About Energy And Conservation. As Media Matters has noted, Fox News regularly misinforms about, and makes false claims while reporting on, issues related to energy and conservation, regularly making false claims having to do with wind, solar and nuclear energy, as well as misinforming about energy efficient lightbulbs.
For more information about Fox's false claims and misinformation about energy and conservation, SEE HERE .
JUSTICE AND CIVIL LIBERTIES
Fox Regularly Misinforms About Crime, Often Accusing Progressives Of Being Sympathetic To Criminals. As Media Matters has noted, Fox News regularly misinforms about, and makes false claims while reporting on, issues related to crime.
For more information about Fox's false claims and misinformation about crime, SEE HERE .
Fox Regularly Misinforms About Detention And Prisons, Particularly About Gitmo Detainees. As Media Matters has noted, Fox News regularly misinforms about, and makes false claims while reporting on, issues related to detention of prisoners. In particular, Fox regularly misinforms about Gitmo detainees and the conditions at the controversial detention center.
For more information about Fox's false claims and misinformation about detention, SEE HERE .
Fox Regularly Misinforms About Guns and Gun Control, Often While Using Violent Rhetoric. As Media Matters has noted, Fox News regularly misinforms about, and makes false claims while reporting on, issues related to guns and Second Amendment rights, often while engaging in violent rhetoric.
For more information about Fox's false claims and misinformation about guns and gun control, SEE HERE .
CRUISE SHIP CONFESSION: Top Fox News Executive Bill Sammon Admits Lying On-Air About Obama. As Media Matters has previously documented, speaking in 2009 onboard a 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." [Media Matters, 3/29/11 ]
Sammon Instructed Fox Employees To Misinform About Obama's Ties To Socialism. During the final days of the 2008 presidential race, Sammon used his position as a top Fox News editor to engage in a campaign to link then-Sen. Barack Obama to "Marxists" and "socialism," internal Fox documents and a review of his televised appearances show. [Media Matters, 2/1/11 ]
Sammon Ordered Fox Journalists To Cast Doubt On Climate Science. In an email leaked to Media Matters, Sammon instructed the network's journalists to "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." [Media Matters, 12/15/10 ]
Sammon Demanded Reporters Use "Government Option" Instead Of "Public Option." In a memo leaked to Media Matters, Sammon wrote that Fox reporters should not use the phrase "public option." Instead, Sammon wrote, Fox's reporters should use "government option" and similar phrases -- wording that a top Republican pollster had recommended in order to turn public opinion against the Democrats' reform efforts. Sammon instructed staff to refer on air to "government-run health insurance," the "government option," "the public option, which is the government-run plan," or -- when "necessary" -- "the so-called public option" [Media Matters, 12/9/10 ]