How is Fox News Like the Communist Party?

| Fri Dec. 17, 2010 5:33 PM EST

The publication of an email from Bill Sammon, managing editor of Fox News's Washington bureau, encouraging reporters to broadcast "wildly misleading" claims about climate science reminds me of my other favorite news-spinner: the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Sammon's email from December 8, 2009, which Media Matters revealed to the public on Wednesday (h/t MoJo's Kate Sheppard), is similar to an October 2009 email he wrote to Fox reporters on covering health care legislation, excerpted below:

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.

Sammon is not the first nor only person who has sent out such directives (Iran, Burma...) regarding wording of sensitive issues. One re-wording enthusiast of particular notoriety is the CCP, which routinely circulates instructions to the Chinese press, and which, in turn, journalists affectionately call "Directives from the Ministry of Truth."

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