Bill Sammon | Media Matters for America

Bill Sammon

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  • Fox News will leverage Sen. Bernie Sanders’ town hall to sanitize its brand

    Fox News is a pro-Trump propaganda outlet, and the network’s “news” anchors are not honest brokers

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Tonight, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) will appear on a Fox News town hall hosted by Fox News' Bret Baier, of Special Report, and Martha MacCallum, of The Story. According to Fox News, it will be the Vermont senator's first appearance on Fox News Channel since he agreed to be a guest on Baier's show in December 2018.

    Ahead of the town hall, Media Matters president Angelo Carusone issued the following statement, warning that Sen. Sanders’ appearance on Fox News will be used by the network to sanitize its brand:

    Since it is well-established that Fox News is disreputable and extreme, expectations for the network’s conduct are low. Basically, as long as the hosts manage to refrain from making a full-scale attack on Sen. Sanders, some will laud them for their performance.

    Don’t be fooled and don’t fall for this low-expectations trap.

    Every day, Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum promote the same sensationalized misinformation as Fox’s prime time shows do. For example, both Baier and MacCallum are frequent misinformers about reproductive health on Fox News. According to a Media Matters study, between March 2017 and 2018, neither Baier nor MacCallum made a single accurate claim about common abortion and reproductive rights topics. Even Tucker Carlson -- who is perhaps the network's most frequent source of anti-choice misinformation -- managed to stumble into a couple accurate claims in the past year.

    Further, Bill Sammon, senior vice president at Fox News and managing editor of the D.C. unit, who negotiated the terms of the town hall and sits on Fox’s “news” side, was revealed in leaked memos to have instructed “news” staff to lie about climate science.

    The separation of Fox News’ supposed “news” and “opinion” sides is a fiction. It doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

    Hosting these town halls and exploiting low regard for Fox News is a calculated effort by the network. But make no mistake: Fox News is a pro-Trump propaganda outlet, and the entire channel (not just parts of it) is steeped in bigotry, misogyny, conspiracy theories, and rank misinformation.

    Advertisers recognize that this a network-wide problem, which is why Fox News is currently experiencing an advertiser crisis. Fox is struggling to meet its sales requirements for upfronts, where the channel needs to sell approximately 70% of all of its ad inventory for next year.

    Fox News’ editorial decisions have driven major advertisers to flee its programming. As Fox News scrambles to avoid disaster during this key time period in which the network hopes to sell up to 70% of its ads for the year ahead, it is not the time to partner with Fox News on town halls or other events which require negotiation. Doing so will throw a critical lifeline to the network and prevent real accountability, allowing Fox News to sanitize its brand for important advertisers.

  • Candidates who care about climate change should be wary of partnering with Fox News

    Blog ››› ››› EVLONDO COOPER


    Media Matters / Melissa Joskow

    Fox News is trying to entice Democratic presidential candidates to participate in town halls on the network, as Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT) is scheduled to do on April 15. Though Sanders has explained his reasoning for wanting to do a town hall on Fox, there are plenty of good reasons why other candidates should think carefully about whether they want to partner with the network. 

    Fox is a pernicious propaganda machine for the Trump White House, and it has a long history of both denying and downplaying climate change and helping to block climate action. Fox is currently at the peak of its political influence, but it's also at a precarious point both financially and in the court of public opinion. Many advertisers have fled and others are considering following suit, not wanting to be associated with the network's bigoted and toxic commentary. Fox is now desperately courting advertisers by trying to paint itself as a legitimate news outlet ahead of May 13, when it will host an "upfront" event at which it aims to sell about 60 to 70 percent of its advertising space for 2020. Democratic candidates might want to keep their distance and not enable Fox's attempt at whitewashing its toxicity.

    Fox consistently spreads right-wing misinformation, lies, and climate denial

    The New Yorker recently exposed how Fox News has developed a symbiotic relationship with the Trump administration and has become a nexus of the right-wing disinformation network. And earlier in April, The New York Times Magazine detailed how Fox founder Rupert Murdoch’s media empire “helped elevate marginal demagogues, mainstream ethnonationalism and politicize the very notion of truth” in the U.S. and beyond, “destabiliz[ing] democracies around the world.”

    After the New Yorker published its piece in March, the Democratic National Committee barred Fox News from hosting any of its upcoming presidential primary debates.

    Fox News has been especially destructive on the climate change narrative, serving as an echo and amplification chamber for climate denial and environmental deregulation efforts. For years, Fox has played a critical role in undermining the public consensus around climate change by eroding trust in climate scientists and scientific institutions, according to a 2013 study. A separate study by the Union of Concerned Scientists found that 72 percent of Fox News segments about climate science in 2013 "contained misleading statements." In the years since, the network has continued to parade a coterie of network personalities, fringe cranks, and conspiracy theorists to push misinformation about climate change and attack those working to confront the climate crisis.

    During the Trump administration, Fox News has also provided a safe haven for disgraced officials like former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Not only did Pruitt and Zinke prefer Fox News over other news networks, they both used their appearances on Fox to question climate science and to advocate for harmful environmental rollbacks, often with little to no pushback from fawning hosts.

    Fox's "straight news" anchors are not honest brokers on climate change and other critical issues

    Fox News claims that Martha MacCallum and Bret Baier, the Fox hosts who will anchor the town hall with Sanders, are straightforward newscasters. But a closer look at their past comments and reporting reveals that they cannot be trusted to foster good-faith discussions about key issues, including climate change.

    MacCallum has denied basic climate science and made ridiculous claims about global warming. In 2014, on Fox News Radio's Kilmeade & Friends, she said:

    MARTHA MACCALLUM: I mean the climate has changed over the course of the thousands and thousands of years that the Earth has been in existence. It has changed, you know, by several degrees up and down over the course of it. I just don't think that there is convincing evidence that the presence of man has altered that more dramatically than say the earth being covered with volcanoes emitting, you know, naturally noxious gases.

    That same year, MacCallum downplayed the importance of climate change and argued that Democrats in Congress should be concentrating on other issues instead. And in March 2015, after the Obama administration announced a voluntary emission-reduction pledge ahead of the U.N. climate talks in Paris, MacCallum was critical of the move and falsely said that the U.S. was going to the "upper end of the range" with its commitment and "nobody else has to do it." In fact, dozens of other countries had by that point announced targets to cut or curb their greenhouse gas emissions, including the European Union, whose target was more ambitious than the one the U.S. put forth.

    Baier has a reputation for not being as bad as some of the more explicit climate deniers on his network, but according to a 2014 analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists, he has still aired "a number of segments containing inaccurate statements about climate science." He has given climate skeptics a platform to attack climate science and climate action, often with very little pushback.

    Fox is now desperately trying to convince advertisers that it's not toxic

    In March, Fox News executives held an unprecedented meeting with its advertisers to persuade them not to abandon the network after more than 30 companies had dropped their ads since the initial push began in December of last year. Recent calls for companies to pull their ads from Tucker Carlson Tonight and Justice with Judge Jeanine came in response to Media Matters releasing audio of Fox host Tucker Carlson's racist and misogynistic rants on the Bubba the Love Sponge Show from 2006 to 2011, and to Fox personality Jeanine Pirro’s anti-Muslim tirade against Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN).

    For years, Fox News has let its prime-time hosts spew bigotry, propaganda, and dangerous conspiracy theories on a nightly basis, while using its so-called "news" programming to give the network a veneer of respectability. But the "news" side and the "opinion" side of Fox News are two sides of the same coin. Fox is dangerous and corrupt from top to bottom.

    The Fox executive wooing Democratic candidates has actively hampered honest reporting on climate change

    Bill Sammon, Fox's senior vice president and Washington managing editor, is courting Democratic candidates for town halls and trying to get the DNC to reconsider its decision not to let Fox host a debate.

    Sammon has a notoriously terrible record on climate change. In 2009, he sent a memo to Fox journalists ordering them to curtail honest reporting on climate change:

    We should 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.

    He sent the memo out less than 15 minutes after a Fox correspondent accurately reported that U.N. scientists said the 2000-2009 period was "expected to turn out to be the warmest decade on record." When the correspondent returned to the air a few hours later, he added views from climate "skeptics" into his reporting. Sammon has also tilted Fox's coverage of other issues further to the right.

    Four years ago, Sammon played a key role in crafting questions for a Republican presidential primary debate. Do Democratic candidates want to invite Sammon to craft questions for them now?

    With Fox on the ropes with advertisers, Democratic candidates should consider if they want to throw Fox News a lifeline this spring.

  • Fox's "news" team is an essential cog in a corrupt propaganda machine

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    There will be no Fox News debate for this year’s Democratic presidential primary contest. Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez closed the door to the right-wing network on Wednesday, telling The Washington Post that the party had rejected the network’s bid in light of the “inappropriate relationship” between Fox News and President Donald Trump that The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer documented in her damning new story. Perez’s statement brought a quick response from Bill Sammon, Fox News’ senior vice president and Washington managing editor, who urged the DNC to “reconsider its decision to bar Chris Wallace, Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum, all of whom embody the ultimate journalistic integrity and professionalism,” from moderating a debate.

    Sammon’s comment is a well-worn talking point familiar to anyone who has followed the network’s public relations campaigns over the years. Fox executives and flaks are constantly telling reporters and advertisers alike that the network simply has separate “news” and “opinion” sides like any other news outlet. In their telling, it is unfair to hold the conspiracy theories and naked bigotry of Fox’s right-wing prime-time hosts against Wallace, Baier, MacCallum, Shep Smith, and the rest of the purportedly objective news team.

    But Mayer’s piece is more than a dissection of Fox’s merger with the Trump White House and emergence as a propaganda tool for his administration. It also helps underscore the farcical nature of the narrative that Sammon and his fellow Fox executives use in pushing back against the network’s detractors.

    “Fox’s defenders view such criticism as unfounded and politically biased,” Mayer writes, noting that in response to her inquiries, “Fox’s public-relations department offers numerous examples of its reporters and talk-show hosts challenging the Administration.”

    This argument was never credible, but the network’s reinvention as state TV has rendered it utterly appalling. Everyone at Fox is complicit in what the network has become.

    The Fox-Trump fusion that Mayer reveals -- the total breakdown of basic journalistic standards, the endless propagation of paranoid conspiracy theories bolstering Trump, the revolving door between network and White House, the Fox hosts advising the president by day and shilling for him on air by night -- came about while Wallace and company were collecting paychecks from the network. To the extent they may have wished to halt that slide, they were obviously unable to do so.

    That's because Fox is -- by design, and to its core -- a right-wing propaganda apparatus that relies on misinformation, disinformation, and outright bigotry to promote the conservative movement and Republican Party. That is its business model and its political project. It also employs some reporters, who have little influence over the bulk of the network’s operations. The reporters may at times criticize the unwillingness of other Fox employees to follow basic media ethics, but to no avail; as Mayer points out, “many Fox News reporters were angry, and provided critical anonymous quotes to the media” after Sean Hannity appeared on stage at a Trump political rally, but Fox supported Hannity nonetheless. The network’s pro-Trump talkers provide Fox with an audience, ratings, and political heft, and so its executives will choose the Hannitys over the Wallaces every time.

    The Wallaces nonetheless play important roles -- ones that are unique in the media.

    At a normal outlet, journalists report out stories and try to break news. At Fox, on-air talent who roughly adhere to journalistic standards serve a very different purpose: They provide Fox’s PR team a fig leaf to point to when critics decry the network’s vile programming. When Hannity, Tucker Carlson, or Laura Ingraham get in trouble, Fox corporate can point to the likes of Wallace or Smith “challenging the Administration” as evidence that the network is more than a right-wing fever swamp.

    Mayer highlights two examples of this phenomenon: Smith giving a monologue in which he “contradicted Trump’s scaremongering about immigrants,” and Wallace debunking one of the White House’s “wildly inaccurate” talking points during an interview with press secretary Sarah Sanders. Both instances garnered media attention precisely because they cut against the right-wing lies and smears typically seen on Fox programs with much bigger audiences.

    That attention benefits Fox’s PR offensive: When clips like these go viral, they become examples the network’s team can highlight when they want to argue that Fox is not a monolithic pro-Trump apparatus. Fox keeps people like Wallace and Smith on the payroll not in spite of these types of segments, but because these segments burnish the Fox brand for journalists, advertisers, politicians, and other elites who don’t watch the network’s programming on a regular basis, more than making up for the hosts’ hefty salaries.

    But these deviations from Fox’s norms are ultimately hollow. In effect, they are the new versions of former Fox host Megyn Kelly’s “Megyn moments,” bolstering the credibility of the hosts and their network, but without any broader impact on the trajectory of Fox’s programming. Smith may tell his audience that there is no immigrant “invasion,” but that doesn’t stop the network’s prime-time lineup from assuring its much larger audiences that there is one. Wallace can give Trump aides a hard time in his interviews, but those exchanges end up going viral everywhere except at Fox itself, which apparently prefers not to inform too many viewers about the administration’s false talking points.

    As The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple put it: “Nothing that Smith says during his Fox News program -- no matter how sick his burns on Trump might be -- neutralizes the impact of Dobbs or Sean Hannity or Tucker Carlson or dozens of other Fox talking heads. Nothing. Episodic truth-telling about Trump doesn’t excuse fulsome conspiracy-theorizing about Trump.”

    Baier and, of late, MacCallum, are often included in these discussions, but they largely went unmentioned by Mayer. I find their typical inclusion in these discussions suspect. Both tend to avoid publicly criticizing their colleagues, unlike Smith and Wallace, and produce far fewer of these viral moments. Baier’s biggest story in recent years was his quickly debunked and largely retracted report, days before the 2016 election, that the FBI was conducting a “very high priority” investigation of “possible pay-for-play interaction” between Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation that would “likely” result in an indictment; more recently, he’s breached ethical norms by golfing with Trump. Meanwhile, MacCallum is every bit as pure an ideologue as anyone else on the network, using her show to claim that a border wall is “needed” to stop the immigrant “invasion” and declare that “both sides” were at fault during the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, VA, among other misdeeds.

    It’s also telling that the network’s PR effort consistently focuses on these sorts of moments from Fox’s journalistically inclined anchors rather than major news stories that its reporters break. That’s because the dirty secret of Fox News’ “news” team is that the “news” team doesn’t break much news.

    The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, and a host of other news outlets have spent the last few years producing scoops at a furious, exhausting rate. What Fox scoops can you remember? Despite unparalleled access to the Trump administration and other Republican officials, the network has little to show for itself.

    Instead, the Fox “news” team provides daily fodder for the network’s right-wing stars to opine about. Their role is to fill the network’s “news” hours with reports on whatever stories conservatives are panicking over that day -- Uranium One, Benghazi, migrant caravans, and the purported Justice Department conspiracy against Trump among them. They provide incremental stories, often sourced to Republican legislators, that advance the narratives with fresh details for the “opinion”-side hosts to freak out about.

    Sammon himself is a key party to this dynamic. In 2010 and 2011, this top “news”-side figure became the subject of widespread criticism after Media Matters produced a series of reports showing how he had used his position to slant the network’s news coverage to the right -- including by claiming on air during the 2008 election that Barack Obama was advocating socialism, a charge he admitted he did not believe. Rather than firing Sammon for lying to its audience, Fox curtailed his on-air appearances but let him keep his senior job overseeing the network’s news coverage. Most recently, he was the point man in Fox’s effort to get the Democratic National Committee to let the network host a presidential primary debate, an attempt that ended Wednesday when the DNC announced that it would not partner with Fox in light of Mayer’s story.

    Mayer points to two cases in which Fox considered taking a big swing at a major scoop. It’s instructive to consider them as a pair. First, during the 2016 presidential campaign, a FoxNews.com reporter put together the story that Trump had had a sexual relationship with the adult film actress known as Stormy Daniels and that a payoff and nondisclosure agreement had been arranged to prevent her from detailing the affair. Second, in 2017, a second FoxNews.com reporter developed a story suggesting that the murdered Democratic staffer Seth Rich, rather than Russian intelligence operatives, had stolen the DNC emails that were leaked during the campaign.

    The former story, which would have been damaging to Trump, never ran. The latter, which benefited his claims that he had not been helped by Russia, did. The Rich story quickly unraveled, eventually forcing Fox to issue a retraction. The network also claimed it was conducting an internal investigation, but to this date no results have materialized and no employee held accountable.

    That’s how things work at Fox. It’s long been a propaganda outlet, and now it’s merged with the White House. It is toxic, and no number of tough Wallace interviews or Smith viral monologues can redeem it.

  • Bill Sammon Is The "Secret Weapon" Shaping The Fox News Debate

    Network's Washington Managing Editor Is Right-Wing Ideologue With History Of Deception

    ››› ››› MATT GERTZ & BEN DIMIERO

    Bill Sammon, Fox News' vice president of News and Washington managing editor, is reportedly the "secret weapon" helping to develop the questions moderators will ask at the network's August 6 debate. Internal emails and critics within Fox have exposed Sammon's history of deception and his efforts to use his position at Fox to slant the network's news coverage to the right.

  • With Benghazi, Conservatives Presume All Journalism Is Dishonest As Their Own

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    With their conspiratorial, knee-jerk claim that New York Times' lengthy investigation into the Benghazi terror attack of 2012 was really an elaborate effort to aid Hillary Clinton if she runs for president in three years -- to "clear the deck" as Chris Wallace put it -- right-wing journalists seem to have mistaken the newspaper of record for one of their own conservative "news" outlets. It's the right-wing media, not the Times, that has a record of peddling purposeful misinformation for purely political reasons.

    David Kirkpatrick's Times series, "A Deadly Mix In Benghazi," undercut a number of favorite right-wing Benghazi talking points. Among them, the Times debunked claims that an anti-Islamic YouTube video played no role in motivating the terror attacks -- a central tenet of the Benghazi hoax that conservatives have deployed to attack President Obama, Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice, and others for engaging in a "cover-up" of the attack.

    Since its publication, far-right commentators have have rushed to engage in lazy speculation about what motivated the Times to investigate Benghazi (aside from the fact that far-right voices have demanded for more than a year that news organizations like the New York Times investigate Benghazi).

    But when the Times came to the 'wrong' conclusions and Fox News and friends needed to explain to their loyal customers why the year-long Benghazi tale they've been telling had been demolished by the Times, critics announced the story was all part of some vast, left-wing conspiracy.

    The allegation is pure conjecture, though. Conservatives don't, and can't, cite any sources inside the Times who confirm the sprawling claim of a Clinton cover-up because there's zero evidence to bolster the allegation. Instead, the fact that the Times never mentioned Hillary Clinton in its Benghazi report simply confirms that the report was all about Hillary Clinton. And the fact that a Times editor pointedly denied the report was about Clinton simply confirms that the report was all about Clinton. (See how that convenient, closed loop works?)

    Conservatives have become so used to the idea that their own outlets are, and should be, used to advance political agendas that they've convinced themselves that's how reputable news organizations go about gathering and disseminating information.

    In this case, conservatives have convinced themselves, without being weighted down by facts or evidence, that senior editors at the Times assign long-term investigative pieces based on how the predetermined outcome of the reporting will benefit Democratic politicians, and specifically Democratic politicians who might run for president in 2016. It's journalism as political cover. Or, pretty much the opposite of how the trade is actually practiced.

    The notion is pure fantasy, not to mention insulting, and reveals a complete lack of understanding of how journalism functions in a democratic society. The Fox and Republican assumption is that journalists act as unpaid advisers and advocates for politicians and that their work revolves around advancing a partisan agenda. Why do they think that?

    Because that's how conservatives behave. And they're often quite open about it.

  • New York's Sherman Points Out Split Between Fox, Murdoch In Gun Coverage

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    In a New York magazine post, Gabriel Sherman pointed out that while Fox News resisted calls to discuss gun policy in the wake of the shooting at Newtown, Connecticut, Rupert Murdoch, the head of Fox's parent company, News Corp., was expressing support for more restrictive gun laws. Sherman noted that the difference between Fox's pro-gun history and Murdoch's call for action on gun control "highlights the growing chasm between Rupert Murdoch and [Fox News CEO Roger] Ailes":

    Certainly Fox's decision to avoid widespread policy talk could be seen as an editorial impulse to keep the focus trained on the tragedy's human dimension. But Fox's coverage also highlights the growing chasm between Rupert Murdoch and Ailes. Gun culture is alive and well at Fox News. Roger Ailes and Sean Hannity are reportedly licensed to carry concealed handguns in New York City. Fox personality Eric Bolling is a vocal Second Amendment proponent on air. "Not only do they carry guns, they don't allow an honest debate on TV," a Fox News insider said. In the past, when Ailes has clashed with Murdoch on politics, Fox News's outsize profits have helped Ailes prevail. Earlier this fall, Ailes signed a new four-year contract, and he retains complete editorial control over the network.

    A Fox News spokesperson declined to comment on Ailes's Second Amendment views.

    While Ailes's network said it wasn't the right time to talk about legislation, Murdoch had no hesitation. Within hours of the attack, he took to Twitter to call for an automatic-weapons ban. "Terrible news today. When will politicians find courage to ban automatic weapons? As in Oz after similar tragedy," he wrote, referring to Australia's move to ban assault weapons in 1996 after a man used two semiautomatic rifles to kill 35 people and wound 21. That massacre came six weeks after the horrific mass school shooting in Dunblane, Scotland, in which sixteen children and one adult were murdered. (Despite Murdoch's plea, automatic weapons are already illegal in the United States; Adam Lanza used semiautomatics.)

    Sherman further reported that the lack of gun policy coverage on Fox stemmed from an order from David Clark, executive vice president of Fox's weekend coverage, who reportedly instructed producers to avoid the subject. According to Sherman's sources within Fox, the decision not to address gun policy "created a rift inside the network." 

    Fox has a history of top-down orders to affect how news is reported on the network. Fox News Washington managing editor Bill Sammon has attempted to slant Fox's coverage on everything from climate change to health care reform and influenced Fox's coverage of President Obama's 2009 Cairo speech on America's relationship to the Muslim world.

  • TIMELINE: Fox News' Role In The "Climate Of Doubt"

    ››› ››› SHAUNA THEEL, JILL FITZSIMMONS & MAX GREENBERG

    PBS' Frontline recently aired a documentary titled "Climate of Doubt," examining how conservative groups, frequently funded by the fossil fuel industry, have pushed Republicans to reject the scientific consensus on manmade global warming. Here, Media Matters looks back at how Fox News has contributed to that "Climate of Doubt," often teaming up with industry to misrepresent science and attack all efforts to address this threat.

  • Misinformer Of The Year: Rupert Murdoch And News Corp.

    Blog ››› ››› JEREMY SCHULMAN & ERIC BOEHLERT

    "This is the most humble day of my life."

    That's how Rupert Murdoch began his July 20 testimony to Parliament about the phone hacking and bribery scandal that had already resulted in the resignations and arrests of key News Corp. officials.

    Murdoch's son, James, was equally contrite. "I would like to say as well just how sorry I am and how sorry we are, to particularly the victims of illegal voicemail interceptions and to their families," he told the committee. "It is a matter of great regret to me, my father and everyone at News Corporation. These actions do not live up to the standards that our company aspires to everywhere around the world."

    The story had begun spiraling out of Rupert Murdoch's control two weeks earlier, when the Guardian reported allegations that employees of Murdoch's London tabloid News of the World had hacked into the mobile phone voicemails of a British schoolgirl who had gone missing, and who was later found dead.

    "I cannot think what was going through the minds of the people who did this. That they could hack into anyone's phone is disgraceful," lamented Prime Minister David Cameron as the scandal quickly engulfed the U.K., and spread throughout Murdoch's global media reach. "But to hack into the phone of Milly Dowler, a young girl missing from her parents, who was later found to be murdered, is truly despicable."

    Allegations of phone hacking within Murdoch's newspapers had been simmering for years in the U.K., and News Corp. had been forced to make public apologies for the systematic invasions of privacy, often sponsored by News of the World and targeting celebrities, athletes and members of the royal family.

    And while parts of the Dowler story have since been called into question, News Corp. agreed to pay her family 2 million pounds, and Murdoch himself delivered an apology in person. Moreover, the story set off a cascade of damning revelations that have continued to this day.

    Evidence quickly tumbled out indicating the hacking been widespread, and that multiple, high-ranking executives had known about the intrusions. That meant previous explanations to Parliament, when Murdoch managers claimed the crimes had been limited, had been misleading at best. At worst, Murdoch chiefs lied to lawmakers in an effort to cover-up massive wrongdoing.

    For years, Media Matters has documented the stream of purposeful misinformation that flows from Murdoch's American properties, most notably Fox News, where the misinformation has taken an epic turn for the worse under President Obama. Yet the corporate spectacle on display this year is even more troubling. This has been Murdoch overseeing a corrupt enterprise and one whose transgressions extend well beyond tapping into phone messages.

    And for that dubious distinction, as well as for starring in a media unraveling that has attracted multiple police and government investigations on several continents, Rupert Murdoch and his international media behemoth are the recipients of this year's Misinformer of the Year award.

  • Fox Regular Frank Luntz Advises GOP To Use Fox-y Language

    ››› ››› KEVIN ZIEBER

    Frequent Fox News guest and "word doctor" Frank Luntz has reportedly advised the Republican Governors Association on how to discuss taxes and the Occupy protests, using phrases like "government taking from the rich" and urging protesters to "occupy the White House." This language is nothing new to Luntz's regular Fox hosts, who adopted the Luntz-approved language weeks ago.

  • Study Confirms: Fox News Creates Alternate Reality On Climate Science

    Blog ››› ››› SHAUNA THEEL

    A new study confirms that Fox News systematically paints a distorted picture of climate change, with the effect of worsening political polarization. Published by The International Journal Of Press/Politics, the study examined primetime cable news broadcasts from 2007 and 2008, and found that Fox "discussed climate change most often," but "the tone of its coverage was disproportionately dismissive":

    According to the study, "Fox broadcasts were more likely to include statements that challenged the scientific agreement on climate change, undermined the reality of climate change, and questioned its human causes."

    Since 2008, Fox's climate coverage has only worsened.

  • Fox Acknowledges Its "Hard Right Turn"

    ››› ››› HARDEEP DHILLON

    In a Newsweek article titled "Roger's Reality Show," Howard Kurtz wrote that Fox executives acknowledge that the news channel "took a hard right turn." This admission confirms what has long been clear: that Fox's news division has been slanted.

  • Why Is Bill Sammon Still Shaping Fox's Election Coverage?

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Last year, Media Matters began a series of reports on Fox News vice president and Washington managing editor Bill Sammon who, according to one source with knowledge of the situation, has pressured his news staff to "slant news to the right."

    In addition to speaking with sources, Media Matters released several internal Fox emails showing Sammon slanting his bureau's reporting by pressing journalists to adopt Republican talking points and misinformation. We also uncovered an audio recording of Sammon admitting that he lied during the closing days of the 2008 presidential campaign when he speculated on-air "about whether Barack Obama really advocated socialism."

    In the wake of the revelations, Sammon drew criticism from journalists, including several veteran Washington bureau chiefs who said that Sammon acted unethically, and his actions were problematic for someone with a newsroom leadership role.

    Perhaps in response to the controversies over his management, Sammon -- who was a regular fixture on Fox programming -- appears to have stopped making TV appearances in 2011. (A search of Media Matters' internal archives and available transcripts in the Nexis and TVEyes.com databases for search terms " 'Sammon' OR 'Bill Salmon' OR 'Bill Samon'" returned no relevant results from 2011.)

    Despite the mountains of evidence about Sammon's partiality and lack of journalism ethics, Fox News apparently still values Sammon. In his recent article about Fox News, Howard Kurtz notes that Sammon was involved with the network's preparation for the recent Fox News/YouTube GOP debate. Sammon also appears to have been involved with Fox News' previous debates.

    If Fox News chief Roger Ailes really wants to reposition Fox News to the "fair and balanced" middle, keeping Bill Sammon as his DC managing editor isn't the right course of action.

  • On Fox, Wash. Post's Lane Asks For Its Emails About Obama -- We Deliver

    ››› ››› DAVID SHERE

    While participating in a panel discussion about new emails purportedly showing "White House Bias" against Fox News, Washington Post editorial writer Charles Lane commented that he'd "like to see the internal emails here at Fox about the Obama administration" as a contrast. Lane is in luck. Internal emails obtained by Media Matters have shown attempts by Fox News executive Bill Sammon to slant news coverage against President Obama and his policies.