Liberal critics have renewed their attacks on Fox News, saying a leaked internal memo is a "smoking gun" proving Republican bias at the cable channel. A day after Senate Democrats put forward a health-care bill with a public-insurance option, Fox News Vice President Bill Sammon sent an email instructing his news staff to avoid the term "public option," and call it "government-run health insurance" or the "government option" instead. Earlier in the summer, Republican pollster Frank Luntz advised Sean Hannity to do the same on his show, noting that Americans react less favorably to the term "government option." Is Sammon's email firm evidence of institutionalized bias at Fox?
Yes, this is conclusive proof: Sammon's email proves Fox's Republican tilt, says Steve Benen in Washington Monthly. He sent it to the news division, not the self-acknowledged right-leaning pundits. And these supposedly nonpartisan reporters willingly "stuck to the GOP-friendly script." Fox News' "pretense of professionalism" is slowly evaporating.
"Memo highlights how Fox News skews its coverage"
So Fox is biased. Big deal: Yes, Fox News "emphasizes stories that support Republican talking points," says Doug Mataconis in Outside The Beltway. So what? "Quite frankly, it's a business model that works for them," and it's within their First Amendment rights to say whatever they want. If you don't like it, "change the channel." Plenty of others do.
"Internal Memos reveal effort to spin health care debate at Fox News"
The Left is just as guilty as Fox: "Both sides play the spin game," says Confederate Yankee at his blog. It's just that Fox News plays it better. Yes, "government option" is a loaded term. But so is "public option" — and Sammon's choice was "both more effective and more accurate" than the liberal construct.
"The spin factory shrieks"
Fox was just trying to be more clear: What critics fail to note, says Kate Pickert at Time, is that "most Americans did not understand what the 'public option' was." In fact, polls at the time found that only a third of respondents could correctly identify what was meant by the term. Sammon was just trying to make things clearer for his audience.
"In defense of the Fox News ban on 'public option'"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How one woman is standing up for India's abused husbands
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Diagnosing the Home Alone burglars' injuries: A professional weighs in
- The 5 most important developments in climate change in 2014
- How Sonia Sotomayor became the Supreme Court's preeminent defender of civil liberties
- Why we can't educate racism away
- The dangerous message of The Hunger Games
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- The best books we read in 2014
- How I lost all my money
Subscribe to the Week