Sammon Previously Admonished Fox Colleagues To Be "Honest Brokers"

Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

By his own "standards," Fox News Washington managing editor Bill Sammon should be disciplined for his admission that he lied repeatedly "about whether Barack Obama really advocated socialism."

As Media Matters documented, while speaking onboard a pricey Mediterranean cruise in August 2009, 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."

But just one month later, Sammon reportedly wrote a "standards" memo reminding Fox's Washington bureau that "viewers are counting on us to be honest brokers." The memo was issued after Media Matters released video of a Fox News producer encouraging a group of 9/12 protesters to cheer during a Fox News report. According to Fox News Washington bureau chief Bryan Boughton, that producer was "disciplined."

Sammon also wrote that reporters "do not cheerlead for one cause or another." Yet Sammon has repeatedly used his position to slant the network's news coverage to the right. He has also fundraised for conservative causes and made his August 2009 remarks onboard a cruise sponsored by the conservative Hillsdale College.

From Mediaite, which obtained Sammon's memo (emphasis is mine):

From: Sammon, Bill

Sent: Monday, September 21, 2009 2:25 PM

To: 005 -Washington

Subject: standards

For those of us who have only been at Fox for a relatively short period of time, it's useful to remind ourselves that, as journalists, we must always be careful to cover the story without becoming part of the story. At news events, we're supposed to function as dispassionate observers, not active participants. We are there to chronicle the news, not create it.

That means we ask questions in a fair, impartial manner. When approaching interviewees, we identify ourselves, by both name and news organization, up front. We seek out a variety of voices and views. We take note of the scene in order to bring color and context to our viewers.

We do not cheerlead for one cause or another. We do not rile up a crowd. If a crowd happens to be boisterous when we show it on TV, so be it. If it happens to be quiet, that's fine, too. It's not our job to affect the crowd's behavior one way or the other. Again, we're journalists, not participants -- and certainly not performers.

Indeed, any effort to affect the crowd's behavior only serves to undermine our legitimate journalistic role as detached eyewitnesses. Remember, our viewers are counting on us to be honest brokers when it comes to reporting -- not altering -the important events of the day. That is nothing less than a sacred trust. We must always take pains to preserve that trust.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss this further, please stop by.

Fox News has apparently taken no action against Sammon since audio of his cruise confession was uncovered. As Media Matters' Ben Dimiero wrote, if Fox News wants to be taken seriously as an organization, they can start by firing Bill Sammon.

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Bill Sammon
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