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"Isn't that what they do in socialist countries?"
Steve Doocy's question sounded like a spontaneous reaction to what he apparently saw as the threat Barack Obama would pose to freedom of the press.
The Fox News host's inflammatory question had, in fact, been scripted the night before in an email sent by a Fox producer.
The incident, which occurred on the October 27, 2008, edition of Fox & Friends, came during what appears to have been a network-wide campaign to tie Obama to socialism in the month leading up to the presidential election. Internal Fox documents obtained by Media Matters and a review of the network's pre-election coverage show that Fox hosts, producers, and other journalists were involved in the effort.
October 27 was also the day that Fox's then-deputy managing editor Bill Sammon sent an internal email referencing what he described in the subject line as "Obama's references to socialism, liberalism, Marxism and Marxists in his autobiography, 'Dreams from My Father.' " Sammon appeared on multiple Fox shows to discuss his "research" and also wrote a FoxNews.com piece about Obama's "affinity to Marxists."
The events leading up to Doocy's "socialist" question began four days earlier, when WFTV (ABC's Orlando affiliate) anchor Barbara West interviewed Joe Biden. During the interview, West suggested Obama's infamous exchange with "Joe the Plumber" -- in which Obama had advocated, "spread[ing] the wealth around" -- was a "potentially crushing political blunder."
West then asked: "You may recognize this famous quote: 'From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.' That's from Karl Marx. How is Senator Obama not being a Marxist if he intends to spread the wealth around?"
"Are you joking?" asked a stunned Biden. "Is this a joke?"
"No," said West. "That's a question."
In response to West's interview, the Obama campaign reportedly cancelled a planned appearance by Jill Biden on WFTV and told the station, "This cancellation is non-negotiable, and further opportunities for your station to interview with this campaign are unlikely, at best for the duration of the remaining days until the election."
On the evening of October 26, a Fox producer named Elizabeth Fanning emailed an outline of the next morning's Fox & Friends to numerous staffers at the network. The document, obtained by Media Matters, listed five separate segments about the WFTV interview that were scheduled for the October 27 show. For each segment, the document listed an identical series of questions, including: "Isn't this what happens in communist countries?"
And that's almost exactly what Doocy said on the air. Interviewing Fox contributor Michelle Malkin, Doocy asked, "Isn't that what they do in socialist countries?"
How A Top Fox Editor Tried To Tie Obama To Socialism
During the final days of the 2008 presidential race, Bill 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.
On October 27, 2008, Sammon sent an email to colleagues highlighting what he described as "Obama's references to socialism, liberalism, Marxism and Marxists" in his 1995 autobiography Dreams From My Father. Shortly after sending the email, Sammon -- then the network's Washington deputy managing editor -- appeared on two Fox News programs to discuss his research and also wrote a FoxNews.com piece about Obama's "affinity to Marxists" that was disseminated throughout the conservative blogosphere.
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 "thesocialist 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."
By that evening, the subject line of Sammon's email had been inserted -- word-for-word -- into show notes written in preparation for the next morning's Fox & Friends, which featured an appearance by Sammon.
The information in Sammon's email wasn't exactly breaking news. He had already published essentially the same research about Obama's 1995 memoir a year earlier in his book Meet the Next President. But Sammon, who has since been promoted to Washington managing editor, believed the "biased" media were failing to question Obama's purported links to radicals and socialism. Sammon also believed Sen. John McCain's campaign could gain momentum by capitalizing on those links.
For weeks, Sammon had used Fox's airwaves to promote efforts to tie Obama to socialism. On October 14, 2008, Sammon said that Obama's "spread the wealth" remark to Joe the Plumber "is red meat when you're talking to conservatives and you start talking about spread the wealth around. That is tantamount to socialism."
Sammon repeated the "tantamount to socialism" line about Obama's remark later that day, stating: "That's anathema to conservatives. That's the same as saying spread the misery around. That's basically tantamount to socialism. And that bothers a lot of people. So I think if McCain is going to have any chance of moving ahead, he's got to turn this economic discussion from something that's been hurting him for the last couple of weeks to something that can help him by focusing on what to do about the economy in the future."
On October 21, 2008, Sammon appeared on Greta Van Susteren's show, where he referred to Bill Ayers "talking about being a Marxist." Sammon then said, "I have read Barack Obama's books pretty carefully, and he in his own words talks about being drawn to Marxists. ... Now all this stuff's coming out about whether he's a socialist. I don't know why anyone is surprised by it, because if you read his own words and his sort of, you know, orientation coming up as a liberal through college and as a young man, it's not a huge shock."
Sammon appeared on Fox & Friends' October 25, 2008, program and said that the McCain campaign "has now picked up this socialism word on their own, and they're running with it. I think it's their one opportunity that they have to turn this economy into something that actually works for their campaign because as you know, for weeks the economy has been killing the McCain campaign and I think this helps them."
Then, on October 27, 2008, the Drudge Report posted audio of a 2001 radio interview with Obama. Fox News and conservative commentators distorted the interview, with some falsely claiming that Obama said it was a "tragedy" that the Supreme Court had not pursued "redistribution of wealth."
It was in this context Sammon sent his "Marxism" email to journalists at Fox.
Less than 90 minutes after sending the email, Sammon appeared on the October 27, 2008, broadcast of Fox's Live Desk -- one of Fox's supposedly straight news daytime programs -- to discuss, in co-anchor Martha MacCallum's words, how "quotes that you found earlier in one of Barack Obama's books" relate to questions about whether Obama's policies are "socialism." Sammon said Obama was "drawn to Marxists" and "socialists." Sammon declared that Obama had been posturing "as a moderate" when "his heart is really towards the hard left."
On Fox News today, Fox's senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano attacked the Illinois Supreme Court decision that Rahm Emanuel met the residency requirements to appear on Chicago's mayoral ballot. Napolitano said in order to be elected, the judges have to be "approved by the same political machine that is approving and supporting and promoting Rahm Emanuel. So, don't think of judges in Illinois as serious scholars devoted to the Constitution and the rule of law. They're politicians in black robes." Napolitano also opined that Emanuel did not meet the residency requirements.
But completely undermining Napolitano's claims that the decision was dictated by the Chicago political machine is the fact that three of the seven Illinois Supreme Court justices who unanimously decided that Emanuel's name should appear on the ballot are Republicans: Justice Robert Thomas who wrote the lead opinion; Justice Lloyd Karmeier; and Justice Rita Garman.
Furthermore, NPR's David Schaper reports that Law Professor Dawn Clark Netsch, who "played a key role in redrafting the Illinois Constitution in 1970" say that the Illinois Supreme Court's unanimous decision was "the right call."
Last year, five potential Republican presidential candidates (Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, John Bolton, and Rick Santorum) who also serve as Fox News contributors or hosts appeared on the network for more than 85 hours. Media Matters for America estimates this time to be worth approximately $54.7 million in free advertising.
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Fox News contributor and presumptive Republican presidential candidate Sarah Palin did herself no favors last week by issuing her combative, self-focused statement in response to the Tucson shootings. In response to the widespread panning she received for, among other things, taking the occasion to accuse her critics of manufacturing a "blood libel" against her, Palin sat down for an interview last night with Sean Hannity, who dutifully let Palin get out her talking points and even facilitated her I'm-the-victim messaging: "Why do you think you were singled out and the left singled you out in this, Governor?"
This morning, the crew and guests of Fox & Friends were effusive in their praise of Palin's performance on Hannity, calling her "composed" and "strong;" decrying the "cavalcade of pain inflicted upon her" and defending her as-yet unsuppressed "right to speak;" and demanding that the president of the United States intercede on behalf of Palin's reputation.
So with the 2012 primary season on our doorstep and Palin's public approval sinking like a tungsten brick, Fox News has provided her a consequence-free platform from which to defend herself and a doting lickspittle of a "journalist" to assist with the image rehab. On top of that, they have a whole staff of Fox News cheerleaders ready and waiting to congratulate their Fox News colleague for the interview she gave on Fox News.
And, of course, Fox News is paying her for the privilege of salvaging her reputation ahead of the primaries.
I think we're at the point where we have to stop asking Fox News to quit violating journalistic ethics and start asking them to stop being an increasingly elaborate parody of a news outfit.
As Election Law blogger Professor Rick Hasen recently reported, last December, the Federal Election Commission deadlocked on whether to continue to pursue charges that Sean Hannity violated the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) by sending out a fundraising email in support of failed Republican congressional candidate John Gomez.
On June 24, 2010, New York state Democratic Committee Chairman Jay Jacobs filed a complaint alleging that Hannity, Gomez, and the companies that run his radio show, Premiere Radio Networks and Clear Channel, violated FECA. Jacobs based the complaint on the fact that Hannity sent out a fundraising pitch for Gomez to all subscribers of Hannity.com using Clear Channel corporate emails with a "DONATE NOW" hyperlink embedded in the email. The complaint alleged that Hannity, Premiere, and Clear Channel "normally charge" for third-parties to send e-mails to Hannity's e-mail list, but did not for the Gomez email. The complaint added that "the provision of the free hyperlink is an illegal corporate contribution to Gomez."
The complaint also alleged that "the email itself was also an illegal contribution."
The FEC has now closed the case without taking action against Hannity, but two Democratic members of the commission, which is equally divided between Republicans and Democrats, voted against a finding that there is "no reason to believe that Sean Hannity violated 2 U.S.C. § 441b(a)" of the Federal Election Campaign Act. The third Democratic member of the commission, Cynthia Bauerly, a former legislative director for New York Sen. Charles Schumer (D), abstained from voting.
The three Republican members of the commission voted to clear Hannity, but it takes a vote of four members of the commission to make such a decision. Therefore, the FEC closed the case without making a final determination about whether Hannity broke the law.
But it now seems that Hannity's activities may also skate close to the edge of what's allowed by federal election law.
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Naturally, the Fox Nation headline bears no relation to the headline on the Politico article itself: "Barack Obama's 2012 cash challenge." In fact, the first paragraph of the article highlights the reason that the Obama team needs to raise so much money -- because conservative groups outside the Republican Party are set to pour a ton of money into the 2012 campaign:
Bracing for a half-billion-dollar onslaught of outside GOP cash in 2012, President Barack Obama's advisers are quietly working to bring back together the major donor base that produced a record-breaking fundraising haul in his first run for president.
Indeed, Bloomberg reported that "Republican-leaning political organizations" -- including American Crossroads, the organization promoted by Fox News' own Karl Rove -- "spent $167 million on the U.S. midterm elections."
It may not qualify as such for tax purposes, but one of those outside groups is Fox News itself.
From January through October last year, five potential GOP presidential candidates who are Fox News contributors or hosts for appeared on the channel for a total of nearly 66 hours. Media Matters estimated that this time was worth at least $40 million in advertising costs.
Fox News political analyst Dick Morris even celebrated the fact that Fox will give Republican candidates "national publicity" they otherwise couldn't afford.
Don't act so surprised, Fox Nation.
I get that Los Angeles Times blogger and former Bush aide Andrew Malcolm is nothing more than a shill for the Republican Party, fueled by blind hatred of Democrats. He's made that abundantly clear. What's harder to understand is his passionate commitment to dishonest and nonsensical arguments. There are, after all, plenty of critical things a conservative could say about progressives that aren't distortions or falsehoods -- but Malcolm seems to take weird pleasure in coming up with ever-more-convoluted false claims.
Today, for example, Malcolm writes about a new Gallup poll -- and when Malcolm writes about polling, the question isn't whether he'll distort it, but how creatively. Here's Malcolm:
The new national survey finds that within only five days of Republicans taking majority control of the House of Representatives on Jan. 4, Americans' approval of the bicameral body's job shot up more than 50%, from its record low of 13% to 20%.
Nope. The Gallup poll doesn't find that approval of Congress jumped to 20 percent "within only five days" of the GOP's takeover of the House. It shows that it jumped to 20 percent at some point between early December and early January -- but because public opinion is not frozen in place between Gallup polls, we don't know when the increase occurred. It could have occurred in late December, before the Republicans took control. For all Malcolm knows, approval of Congress could have dropped in the days immediately after the GOP took over.
In December, when so much of the media coverage portrayed the lame-duck Democratic Congress and President Obama as being incredibly productive, popular job approval of that institution plummeted to an historic low 13%.
Malcolm's suggestion that public opinion of Congress dropped amid media coverage of the productive lame-duck session is nonsense. He's referring to a poll conducted from December 10-12 -- before Congress passed the legislation that won it praise for productivity. Andrew Malcolm knows that, assuming he read the Gallup analysis to which he linked, so I can only assume that he's intentionally lying to his readers. Here's Gallup:
Americans' 13% approval of Congress last month was recorded shortly after President Obama and congressional Republican leaders came to agreement on a plan to extend tax cuts put in place under George W. Bush, but before Congress passed that plan and several other major bills. The record-low rating was mainly the result of a drop in approval among Democrats, who may have either disagreed with the compromise plan or been unhappy about the enhanced role Republicans were playing in the legislative process.
Not surprisingly, in the latest Gallup data, approval of the new 112th Congress improved significantly among Republicans, from a mere 7% up to 22%. But here's an intriguing point: Among Democrats, approval of the new half-Republican Congress also jumped, from 16% all the way up to 24%.
Combined with Malcolm's previous suggestion that the poor December numbers came after that month's flurry of legislative accomplishments, this suggests that approval of Congress among Democrats increased as a result of Republicans taking control of the House. More likely: It increased as a result of a flurry of legislative accomplishments, from the tax deal to repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
Using harsh political rhetoric, Obama called hard-bargaining Republican congressional leaders "hostage-takers" for striking a tough legislative deal with him that avoided January….
...increases in withholding taxes, among other things. As one result, his approval improved to slightly closer to 50% and the Republicans' approval soared. Perhaps there's some kind of political lesson to draw from that.
The poll Malcolm is referring to showed that approval of Congress increased -- not that "the Republicans' approval soared." Malcolm made that part up. Perhaps there's some kind of lesson to draw from that.
Reviving a nearly two-year-old GOP falsehood, Fox News' White House correspondent Wendell Goler falsely reported that under the Obama administration, "the Census director report[ed] to former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel instead of the Commerce Secretary." In fact, the administration made clear that the Census director reported directly to the Commerce Secretary.
On tonight's episode of The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly asked Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer to weigh in on the presidential prospects of potential Republican challengers to President Obama - specifically, those of Fox News' own Sarah Palin.
O'Reilly asked Krauthammer why Palin is polling so far behind President Obama, as compared to other candidates like Mitt Romney and her Fox co-worker, Mike Huckabee. While initially, Krauthammer suggested that her lack of support was caused, in part because "the media's contributed enormously" to the "unprecedented" level of "animus to her," he focused the majority of his criticism on the way she has handled herself during her stint in the political spotlight. Watch:
Krauthammer remarked specifically on Palin's infamous interview with Katie Couric, noting that it was not a "gotcha interview" and that she was asked "fairly simple questions." While Krauthammer "would have hoped" that Palin would "spend the next years sort of getting really deep into policy" even though "it sounds really dull," he points out that this has not been the case.
Krauthammer is hardly the first Fox contributor to knock Palin's credentials. Karl Rove is a frequent critic and has questioned Palin's recent foray into reality television, suggesting that she lacked the "certain level of gravitas" required in a presidential candidate. Fellow Fox News contributor Morton Kondracke agreed with Rove and even told Media Matters' Joe Strupp that he thinks Palin is "a joke."
The year may be winding down, but the Fox News primary is certainly heating up.
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