Leaked email exposes Fox News as less than “fair and balanced”

December 10, 2010
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During the big health care debate, Fox News’ Washington managing editor came up with an interesting, little idea for his network to maintain their “fair and balance” policy. He decided they should constantly mislead the public by calling it the “government option” and now we have the emails to prove it.

Fox News pundits started sporadically adopting the “government option” slant around March, 2009, when they previously referred to it as the “public option” and Republican pollster Frank Luntz scolded them if they slipped by into using the term “public option”:

Luntz argued that “if you call it a ‘public option,’ the American people are split,” but that “if you call it the ‘government option,’ the public is overwhelmingly against it.” Luntz explained that the program would be “sponsored by the government” and falsely claimed that it would also be “paid for by the government.”

Then on October 26, Fox used “public” and “government” interchangeably and Sammon was not happy. So he wrote an inter-office email, the subject of which was: “friendly reminder: let’s not slip back into calling it the ‘public option.’ “:

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.

Michael Clemente, Fox’s senior vice president, responded:

From: Clemente, Michael
To: Sammon, Bill; 054 -FNSunday; 169 -SPECIAL REPORT; 069 -Politics; 030 -Root (FoxNews.Com); 036 -FOX.WHU; 050 -Senior Producers; 051 -Producers
Sent: Tue Oct 27 08:45:29 2009
Subject: RE: friendly reminder: let’s not slip back into calling it the “public option”

Thank you Bill

#3 on your list is the preferred way to say it, write it, use it.

Michael Clemente



And after that, the phrase “public option” was hardly ever used on Fox. 

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Caller to Senator Colburn: ‘what went wrong?’

December 24, 2009

Yesterday, I blogged about Senator Colburn’s call for teabaggers to pray that at least one of the Democrats didn’t show up for the vote for health care reform so that Republicans could filibuster, and how the only person who didn’t show up for the vote was ironically someone on Colburn’s side.

Well, what follows is a deeply disturbing call from one such teabagger that C-SPAN played for Senator Barrasso. The caller is asking what went wrong with the prayer?

Here’s the transcript, courtesy of The Friendly Atheist:

CALLER: Yeah doctor. Our small tea bag group here in Waycross, we got our vigil together and took Dr. Coburn’s instructions and prayed real hard that Sen. Byrd would either die or couldn’t show up at the vote the other night.

How hard did you pray because I see one of our members was missing this morning. Did it backfire on us? One of our members died? How hard did you pray senator? Did you pray hard enough?

Notice how Barrasso fails to denounce Colburn’s supernatural kill order (as ridiculous as the very concept is in the first place). Not only that but his response to hearing someone crying over thinking their voodoo magic backfired and thus they may have been responsible for killing someone else was to simply point out that the man (who incidentally isn’t dead) wouldn’t have made a difference politically whether he’d gotten to vote or not. It reminds me a little of that scene in Watchmen when confronted with accusations that he may have caused several people to contract cancer, Dr. Manhattan points out that there’s structurally little difference between living matter and dead matter. These guys deserve some douchebag of the year award.

News From Around The Blogosphere 12.22.09

December 23, 2009

1. When prayer backfires – Oklahoma’s Tom Coburn called for the teabagger crowd to prayer that somebody in the senate doesn’t make it for the health care bill so that the Democrats can be filibustered. And as God would have it, somebody didn’t show up. Unfortunately for Coburn, that somebody was James Inhofe, who was among those opposed to health care reform. What can you say? Either god’s not a giant douchebag after all and supports health care reform, god’s not very powerful, god works in mysterious ways, or god just doesn’t fuckin’ exist. Bummer dude.

2. Texas Board of Ed’s Don McLeroy didn’t hide his religious motivation – McLeroy has been the leading member of the board that’s been pushing this ridiculous “teach the weaknesses in evolution” nonsense, and even he happily admited his religious motivation:

Am I a religious fanatic? Absolutely. You’d have to be to do what I do.

3. Atheist bus campaign in Iowa –

The last time Iowa atheists put up bus ads, they were quickly taken down (and then later put back up), a bus driver refused to do her job because an atheist ad was on her bus, and the governor complained.

That was all over an ad that simply read: “Don’t believe in God? You are not alone.” Now the the Iowa Atheists & Freethinkers are putting up a new bus ad that reads:  “Being good for goodness sake.”

4. NYC Atheists and Catholic activists sue Catholic Church – Ken Bronstein of the NYC Atheists has teamed up with Catholic activists in a legal battle against the Catholic Diocese:

Charging that the Catholic Church should lose its tax-exempt status, a consortium of atheists and Catholic activists filed two lawsuits against Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, Assemblymember Vito Lopez (D-Williamsburg) and the Catholic Diocese over their role in producing a recorded message sent to Williamsburg’s registered voters less than a week before they went to the polls.

Led by NYC Atheists President Kenneth Bronstein and New Jersey-based priest abuse activist Reverend Robert Hoatson, the suits allege that DiMarzio violated Internal Revenue Service laws by recording a political message sent to voters in a hotly contested City Council election, which could cost the Church privileges enjoyed by its nonprofit status.

Mysteries, Magic, and Miricles 11.3.09

November 3, 2009


Is Keanu Reeves immortal?

I don’t know about you but I’m convinced.



1. Koran verses “appear” on baby in Russia – I have to agree with Phil Plait on this one. It’s not simply pareidolia but seems like a clear case of someone simply writing on the child.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

2. Faith healing and other medical quackery in health care reform bill – Senate Bill 1679 currently contains language that would require support for faith healing practices:

The essential benefits provided for in subparagraph (A) shall include a requirement that there be non-discrimination in health care in a manner that, with respect to an individual who is eligible for medical or surgical care under a qualified health plan offered through a Gateway, prohibits the Administrator of the Gateway, or a qualified health plan offered through the Gateway, from denying such individual benefits for religious or spiritual health care, except that such religious or spiritual health care shall be an expense eligible for deduction as a medical care expense as determined by Internal Revenue Service Rulings interpreting section 213(d) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 as of January 1, 2009.

Here’s another article on it.

3. ‘Miracle’ communion wafer transubstantiates into heart tissue? – In Poland, the Catholic Church is investigating an alleged miracle involving a Eucharist turning into heart tissue. It turns out the secret is to just add water. We’re told this has “dumbfounded sceptics” but I say the heart tissue was there in the water all along, waiting to be picked up after the glorified Ritz cracker was dropped into the water. Case closed.

Fox & their friends – the reason the facebalm was invented

July 8, 2009

Wow, two Fox “News” stories in one day! As well as one story that’s only very loosely related because it’s exactly the kind of thing you’d expect to hear on Fox “News.”

1. First, the Friendly Atheist reports about Fox’s latest attempt to paint President Obama as an anti-Christian out to ban religion. This came after Chris Rodda of the Daily Kos reported about an unconstitutional tradition of public-funded military planes doing flyovers at evangelical Christian events. After the Military Religious Freedom Foundation exposed this scandal, the flyovers stopped, including those scheduled for the “God and Country Festival” in Idaho, an overtly Christian event.

This led to Gretchen Carlson of Fox and Friends bringing Patrick Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition onto her show to condemn the change in policy and inexplicably blame Obama for this incident and use the event as a platform to call the president an anti-Christian bigot.  Carlson didn’t have anyone else on the show to debate the other side because. . .you know, Fox is “fair and balanced. And to give a hint of what an extraordinary idiot (or liar–I report, you decide) Mr. Mahoney is, at one point he says that the Constitution says Americans have the freedom of religion and NOT the freedom from religion. Apparently, he’s never actually read the Constitution.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

Yeah, see liberals! The Constitution says nothing about all about freedom from rel–OH!

One wonders what Carlson’s reaction would be if she heard military planes were doing flyovers at a Muslim festival.

2. Although this story isn’t actually about Fox “News,” it involves such enormous ignorance combined with pure vitriolic hatred for President Obama that you’d swear it was voiced by a Fox “News” pundit.

Now I’ve blogged before about Julia Sweeney, the intelligent and well-spoken former Saturday Night Live star who became an outspoken atheist and even made a one-woman show out of the story of her apostasy. Well, one of her former castmates, Victoria Jackson, kinda went another way since the show ended. She became a batshit insane Religious Right evangelical loon. And Victoria Jackson had this to say about our President in her latest unstructured and erratic blog rant:

Obama legally kills babies and now he can legally kill Grandmas!

Hitler did this.  He killed the weak, the sick, the old, and babies and races/religions he didn’t like.  Hitler also controlled the media.  (Where’s the public debate between scientists on “Climate Change/Global Warming?”)   Hitler had the VW bug invented as the state car. What will O’s nationalized car be? So… kill off the weak.  That’s the plan.  Tax the workers to death.  Erase the middle class.  Sounds like the evil governments we studied in high school long ago.  The evil governments were :  kings, oligarchies, facist, socialist, and communist.  Now it’s called the Obama Administration. Sounds like candy or a rock band.

And to get a closer look into the strange world that is Victoria Jackson’s mind, here’s how the blog began:

I’d been wondering why the liberals are so passionate about this Health Care thing.  It couldn’t be because they actually care about sick, poor people.  If they did, they would visit hospitals, and give ten percent of their gross salaries to Compassion International and World Vision, like us stupid church go-ers do. Biden gave $ 62 to charity last year.

No, there’s gotta be a catch.  I guess this question was sitting in my brain and during my sleep, my brain was working on it, because when I suddenly awoke at 3 a.m.  I had the answer.


Social Security and Medicare are broke.  Baby boomers, like me, are getting old and will soon be asking for it.  Socialized medicine makes people die. You stand in a long, long line with a breast lump, clogged artery, or sharp pencil stuck in your eye, and someone like the DMV person, who can’t speak English, has chewing gum, an attitiude, really long fake nails that curl up at the end,  and is talking on a cell phone, enjoying their power trip moment, is finally face to face with you.  They mumble something incoherent about paperwork. You die. One less person in line for Social Security and Medicare!

Socialized medicine makes people die.” And no, that’s not my emphasis. SHE put that statement in BOLD. WOW! Yeah, what’s with all those liberals who are actually concerned about that little “Health Care thing” anyway? Who needs if it makes Victoria Jackson have to wait a little bit longer on a line that no other public health care countries actually have and if it resembles some stereotyped version of the DMV. And let’s not let little details like the fact that the DMV, the U.S. Postal Service, and other commonly cited examples actually work quite well despite some people finding them annoying to deal with–let’s not let all that get in the way of a perfectly good non-sensical criticism. I think the host of The Young Turks said it best: Victoria Jackson is really this dumb.

3. And did I detect the slightest hint of racism or xenophobia in that depiction of DMV employees? Nah! But speaking of racism, that brings me to Brian Kilmeade also of Fox & Friends, who had this to say:

Wow! What did he just say?

BRIAN KILMEADE: We keep marrying other species and other ethnics–

GRETCHEN CARLSON: Are you sure they are not suffering from some of the causes of dementia right now?

BRIAN KILMEADE: The problem is the Swedes have pure genes. They marry other Swedes, that’s the rule. Finns marry other Finns; they have a pure society. In America we marry everybody. We will marry Italians and Irish.

Huh. Interesting. Thanks for the insightful biology lesson there, Brian.