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Leaked Memos Prove Fox News Health Care Spin

While it’s old news that Fox News is the king of spin and that there were many falsehoods reported by FNC personalities about the health care debate, here is a little proof that came to light recently. Internal memos show Fox News deliberately echoing GOP talking points.

Bill Sammon, Fox News’ controversial Washington managing editor, sent the following memo regarding the use of the phrase “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.

Fox’s senior vice president for news, Michael Clemente sent he following reply, in which he said that he preferred Fox staffers use Sammon’s third phrasing: “The public option, which is the government-run plan.”

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

SVP-News

212.XXX.XXXX

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Bret Baier Interrupts President Obama 16 Times!

There’s no doubt that President Obama didn’t expect soft ball questions yesterday when he went on Fox News Channel’s’ Special Report to be interviewed about health care reform by Bret Baier, but the lack of respect displayed by the Fox News personality was astounding!

As Obama pointed out, Baier repeated interrupted him while trying to answer the host’s questions. Not once, not five, ten, or a dozen times. 16 Times! Incredibly, Baier said that Obama was dodging his questions, to which Obama responded, “Well, I’m trying to answer your questions and you keep on interrupting.”

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Bill O’Reilly, Fox & Friends Survey Falsehoods

Fox News personalities are on the forefront of spreading misinformation about health care reform and here’s one example that takes the cake.

Bill O’Reilly, citing the New England Journal of Medicine stated that  “46.3% May Leave Medical Profession” and “If half of the nation’s doctors are considering bailing on the profession if Obama-care passes, that is a frightening consequence.”

Here’s what the “poll” actually stated:

46.3%of primary care physicians (family medicine and internal medicine) feel that the passing of health reform will either force them out of medicine or make them want to leave medicine.

Misleading, yes, but that’s not the most interesting part. The New England Journal of Medicine states that they never produced a health care survey!

For example, on Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade said: “The New England Journal of Medicine has published a report and did a survey, and they said the impact of reform on primary care physicians, 46 percent, they say, feel reform will force them out or make them want to leave medicine.”

This is false.

Media Matters for America contacted the New England Journal of Medicine, which confirmed it neither conducted nor published the “survey.”

NEJM spokesperson Jennifer Zeis told Media Matters that the study had “nothing to do with the New England Journal of Medicine’s original research.” She also made clear that the study “was not published by the New England Journal of Medicine,” and said that “we are taking steps to clarify the source of the survey.”

The “report” that right-wing media are citing actually appeared in Recruiting Physicians Today, which is an employment newsletter produced by “the publishers of the New England Journal of Medicine.” According to Zeis, that report actually “was written by the Medicus Firm,” the medical recruitment firm that conducted the “survey.”

UPDATE: Following inquiries from Media Matters, the “NEJM CareerCenter” website has now posted the following statement, making clear that Recruiting Physicians Today is a “free advertiser newsletter” whose content is “produced by physician recruiting firms and other independent groups involved in physician employment” and that Medicus was responsible for conducting and publishing the “survey” in question…

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Bill O’Reilly’s Heath Care / Abortion Falsehood

Bill O’Reilly recently stated on his show that the current health care bill would “require American taxpayers to fund abortion” and “we now have taxpayer money linked up with the termination of a fetus.”

Actually, the Senate Bill, before the House, forbids insurers from using federal subsidies to do so, except in cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest. It specifically states, “the issuer of the plan shall not use any amount attributable” to the subsidies created under the bill “for purposes of paying for such services.” The bill that passed the Senate requires insurers to collect a separate payment for such services so that federal funds are not used as O’Reilly falsely stated.

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Former TV Host Leads ‘Hands Off My Public Option’ Rally

The following wonderful piece of parody arrived via email… Enjoy!

November 24, 2041

WASHINGTON — Government-sponsored health care was on the minds of angry conservative “tea party” protesters in the nation’s capital yesterday, as former TV host Glenn Beck led a “Hands Off My Public Option” rally on the mall.

The 77 year-old Beck, who was banned from the airwaves in 2014 after pouring what he thought was water over an intern as part of an on-air gag, only to discover after lighting a match that it was, in fact, gasoline, said the new president “needs to keep her cockamamie paws off our universal coverage.”

“Thirty-two years ago, Republicans fought tooth and nail for health care reform with a public option,” said Beck, choking back tears. “We fought for it and we bled for it. And we’re here to tell the president that any cuts or rollbacks will be met with a fury like she’s never seen. We surround you, Madame President!”

Protesters held up signs with slogans like, “Only Hitler would take away my pubic [sic] option” and “Don’t tread on my cradle-to-grave gov’t coverage” as they marched to the steps of the U.S. Capitol for a rally. D.C. officials estimated the crowd size at 5,000. Organizers disputed that, claiming that attendance “easily topped a couple million.”

Liberals responded to the rally by pointing out that, in fact, the Democratic Congress passed health care reform with a public option in late 2009 against unified Republican opposition, and the bill was signed by former President Barack Obama. It was subsequently strengthened in 2019 and 2024. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that improving efficiency and introducing competition to the health care industry has resulted in savings of over $4 trillion.

“There’s a reason Democrats have won every election since 2008,” said Senator Al Franken (D-MN), who voted for the original bill and is now serving his sixth term. “It’s great that Mr. Beck and his followers enjoy having access to affordable government health care, but let’s not rewrite the history books. Oh, and by the way, it’s worth noting that the president has every intention of strengthening the public option further, and hopes that the twenty Republicans in the Senate will climb on board. Frankly, I’m not sure why these protesters are out here marching except to vent their frustration over losing yet another election.”

Beck noted that health care is now the number-one issue with the Republican base, whose median age is 67 according to the latest U.S. Census figures.

There was only one confirmed injury, which occurred when guest speaker Bill O’Reilly, 92, tripped over a fire hydrant while lunging at Senator Franken with his walking stick. He was treated and released at the scene. No charges were filed.

The source was not cited in the email – if you know where it’s from, please drop a comment.

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Fox News Promotes Rep. Bachmann’s Anti-Health Care Reform Protest

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) is busy promoting her own anti-health care reform protest and Fox News is there to serve… as they did with the Tea Party protests, Town Hall disruptions and the 9/12 protest. But when it came to gay rights, FNC was nowhere to be seen.

Of course, The Fox Nation had to get in on the fun:

Fox & Friends host Gretchen Carlson was more than happy to help her former nanny promote her event.

GRETCHEN CARLSON: “They can go to FoxandFriends.com; we’ll link it to your website.”

Here’s Sean Hannity doing his part to promote the event:

HANNITY: So you’re organizing and asking people to come meet you on the steps of the Capitol on Thursday –

BACHMANN: Yes.

HANNITY: — and you are asking them –

BACHMANN: At high noon.

HANNITY: — to walk through the halls of Congress and try and voice your opinion. And so, if people want to participate, they’re going to be there Thursday at noon.

BACHMANN: Thursday at noon. You can go to MicheleBachmann.com for more information.

HANNITY: All right.

BACHMANN: And we can walk together through Cannon, Longworth, Rayburn, walk through the Capitol, sit in the gallery –

HANNITY: Maybe I’ll have to show up and observe this so our cameras can see democracy in action. But, Congresswoman, we’re going to continue to follow it.

You didn’t think Glenn Beck would pass up some protest promotion (gay rights aside), did you?

BECK: Michele, God bless you. We’ll get the word out and let’s have you on a little bit later on this week and we’ll continue to have you make the pitch for people going to Washington, D.C., noon this Thursday, and look them in the whites of their eyes.

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Rep. Michele Bachmann Was Gretchen Carlson’s Nanny

Last month, George Will revealed that Fox & Friends host Gretchen Carlson‘s former babysitter is Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN).

When [Bachmann] was a teenager in Anoka, Minn., she was a nanny for a young girl named Gretchen Carlson. Today, Carlson, a Stanford honors graduate who studied at Oxford, is a host of “Fox & Friends,” the morning show on — wouldn’t you know — Fox News Channel. See how far ahead the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy plans?

The two reunited on Fox & Friends to discuss and promote Bachmann’s anti-health care reform protest. Bachmann is known for her “colorful” use of words to incite fear, such as calling health care reform the “crown jewel of socialism” and the vote being the “Super Bowl of freedom.” And there was the lovely, “look at the whites of their eyes of their members of Congress and say, ‘don’t you remember? I told you don’t take away my health care.” Of course, we all know the saying that you are to see the “whites of their eyes” before shooting an enemy. Naturally, Bachmann’s rhetoric went unchallenged on FNC.

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Shepard Smith Slams FNC/GOP Stance On Public Option

Fox News‘ position on health care reform has included talking points that amounted to calling the public option a government takeover of the health care system. Shepard Smith; however, disagrees.

Smith questioned Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) about this topic, asking him “Why would we not want a public option?” Barrasso proceeded to parrot the Fox News / GOP talking points, to which Smith responded with the following:

SMITH: It’s not a government take over, Senator! That’s not fair and we both know it. It’s not a government takeover because what it would be is a government option if you have insurance now and you like it you can keep it. … That’s not a government take over if we’re being fair is it Senator?

SMITH: As the costs have gone up, the insurance industry’s profits on average have gone up more than 350 percent and it’s the insurance companies which have paid and have contributed to Senators and congressman on both sides of the aisle to the point where now, we can’t get…what more than 60 percent of Americans say they support, is a public option. This has been an enormous win for the health care industry. That is an unquestioned fact.

[E]very vote against a public option is a vote for the insurance companies, sir. It is!

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Apparently Sen. Barrasso has received over $500,000 from health professionals and nearly $100,000 from the pharmaceuticals and health products industry over his career and nearly $40,000 bundled from health care lobbyists in the last two years.

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Fox News: Only Place You Won’t See Obama

President Obama chose to skip Fox News in his recent round of media appearances. Fox News is now trying to spin this in their favor, as if they had any choice in the matter.

As you may have heard by now, President Obama decided to do five Sunday shows today, but the White House made it clear they had no interest in talking to us. We have a Fox News Sunday exclusive, the only place you won’t see Barack Obama making yet another pitch for health care.

Unfortunately, for the viewers, they will only be subject to more spin and less information from the source. To Fox News this is a good thing. The sad part is their viewers will believe it and they won’t have the information necessary to object to the spin, or notice when it’s being spoon fed to them.

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Bill O’Reilly Endorses Public Health Care Option

Here’s something you don’t see every day… A Fox News personality, Bill O’Reilly, endorsing a public health care option.

O’REILLY: The public option now is done. We discussed this, it’s not going to happen. But you say that this little marketplace that they’re going to set up, whereby the federal government would subsidize insurance for some Americans, that is, in your opinion, a public option?

OWCHARENKO: Well, it has massive new federal regulation. So you don’t necessarily need a public option if the federal government is going to control and regulate the type of health insurance that Americans can buy.

O’REILLY: But you know, I want that, Ms. Owcharenko. I want that. I want, not for personally for me, but for working Americans, to have a option, that if they don’t like their health insurance, if it’s too expensive, they can’t afford it, if the government can cobble together a cheaper insurance policy that gives the same benefits, I see that as a plus for the folks.

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Tell Sean Hannity To Tell The Truth

Sean Hannity has said, “[If health-care reform passes, we’re] gonna have a government rationing body that tells women with breast cancer, ‘You’re dead.’ It’s a death sentence.” Obviously, this is just his imagination because 1) it’s not likely and 2) the bill has not been passed, much less finished, so he has no evidence.

So, what can you do, besides boycott? You can use the form that Sojourners has set up to email Sean Hannity directly, and tell him the story of a cancer victim who was refused health care under the current system.

Here is part of the email being sent out:

In May 2008, I went to the dermatologist for acne. A word was written on my chart and interpreted incorrectly as meaning pre-cancerous. Shortly thereafter, I was diagnosed with Invasive HER-2 Genetic Breast Cancer, a very aggressive form of breast cancer. I was told I needed a double mastectomy. When the surgeons scheduled my surgery I was pre-certified for my two days hospitalization.

The Friday before the Monday I was scheduled to have my double mastectomy, Blue Cross red flagged my chart due to the dermatologist report. The dermatologist called Blue Cross directly to report that I only had acne and please not hold up my coming surgery. Blue Cross called me to inform me that they were launching a five-year medical investigation into my medical history and that this would take approximately three months. I was frantic. I did not know what to do or where to turn. I knew I could not pay for the surgery myself …

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Fox News’ Unfair and Unbalanced Health Care Reporting

From August 24 through August 28, 2009, Fox News aired 22 clips that were critical of, or opposed to health care reform efforts supported by Democrats. During that same period of time, Fox News showed ZERO, ZIP, ZILCH clips that were positive, or showing people supporting health care reform.

So, Fox News supporters, where’s the “fair and balanced” reporting you’re so brainwashed into  repeating, ad nauseum? Don’t bother bringing any other media outlet into the discussion… This is about Fox News’ obvious disregard for reporting both sides of the story.

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Fox News Backtracks on ‘Death Panel’ Claims?

As the “death panel” claims are debunked time and time again, Fox News may be backtracking and using terms like “De Facto Death Panels.”

BECK: The death panel isn’t a firing squad. Sarah Palin made a point — I guess you could say in an inflammatory way. But when you implement a government health system, as they have found out in the U.K. and everywhere else on the planet, you are left with no other choice. That’s just the way it is. Rationing is inevitable, and they know it. When — when will someone in the media expose all of the lies?

BECK: Anyway, tell me about — am I wrong in saying, without any inflammatory speech here — don’t call them death panels, just let’s call them what they are. You have a certain amount of money and a certain amount of people. You can’t — they don’t — you can’t give everything to everybody. Isn’t it inevitable that you have to make tough choices?

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Fox News’ Questionable Use of Health Care Reform Poll

Vice President of news at Fox News Channel, Bill Sammon references a poll (see below), which Fox News attributes to ABC News, as showing that more people do not want a public option included in the health care reform package.

SAMMON: Well, that’s true. And, you know, you have to — you have to figure that President Obama is feeling whipsawed, because on the one hand, people are saying they don’t want the public option, as that poll demonstrates. Republicans are showing up at these town hall meetings and objecting. On the other hand, you’ve got liberal Democrats saying, look, you better put that public option back in there.

Keep reading to see why this doesn’t show the whole picture…

The poll figures, as seen above, are from an Ipsos/McClatchy poll from early July, 2009. Click on the image below to view the actual poll questions and results. You’ll notice that the first question shows that the majority feel that it’s necessary to have a public option.

Click to enlarge

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FoxNation Misleads About Reality Check Site

While simultaneously attacking President Obama, the White House and health care reform, Fox News’ web site, The Fox Nation, has posted the misleading headline, “Obama Pulls Plug on White House Snitch Site” and following graphic.

First of all, it’s not a “snitch site,” it was set up to be able to respond to false health care reform rumors going around. Second, no “white flag” was waived, or plug pulled. The Reality Check web site is still up and people can still submit rumors. Rather than forwarding emails to flag@whitehouse.gov, which no longer works, people can copy and paste emails into the form here.

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