Shocker: Fox News Not Fair And Balanced

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JONATHAN CHAIT DECEMBER 9, 2010

Shocker: Fox News Not Fair And Balanced

In 2009, pollster Frank Luntz was warning Republicans not to use the term "public option." That year, Fox News Washington editor Bill Sammon sent out a memo instructing his subordinates not to use the phrase:

From: Sammon, Bill
Sent: Tuesday, October 27, 2009 8:23 AM
To: 054 -FNSunday; 169 -SPECIAL REPORT; 069 -Politics; 030 -Root (FoxNews.Com); 036 -FOX.WHU; 050 -Senior Producers; 051 -Producers
Subject: friendly reminder: let's not slip back into calling it the "public option"

1)      Please use the term "government-run health insurance" or, when brevity is a concern, "government option," whenever possible.

2)      When it is necessary to use the term "public option" (which is, after all, firmly ensconced in the nation's lexicon), use the qualifier "so-called," as in "the so-called public option."

3)      Here's another way to phrase it: "The public option, which is the government-run plan."

4)      When newsmakers and sources use the term "public option" in our stories, there's not a lot we can do about it, since quotes are of course sacrosanct.

I am shocked, shocked to find partisan messaging in the Fox newsroom. Media Matters has more.

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posted in: jonathan chait, fox news washington, bill sammon, frank luntz

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