You think the most essential purpose of journalism and the reason the Founders included freedom of the press in the First Amendment was to insure independent reporting about government, politicians, and public policy issues, right?
Well, you must be wrong because Fox News Washington Bureau Chief Bill Sammon is getting a raft of garbage from liberal activists masquerading as journalists at Media Matters, some liberal bloggers and a scattering of real journalists who ought to know better.
Why? Politico’s headline captures the controversy perfectly: “Fox editor urged climate skepticism.”
A journalist being skeptical? Who would ever have thought such a thing could be. I don’t know, maybe anybody who has heard this (attributed long ago to a crusty desk editor at the illustrious City News Bureau in Chicago): “If your mother tells you she loves you, check it out.”
In other words, we journalists are paid to BE SKEPTICAL.
For the record, here’s what Sammon said in a Dec. 8, 2009, memo to his reporting staff shortly after the Climategate global warming email scandal erupted:
“Given the controversy over the veracity of climate change data, we should refrain from asserting that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question. It is not our place as journalists to assert such notions as facts, especially as this debate intensifies.”
Now I am from out of town and all, but Sammon’s injuction sounds to me exactly like what editors are supposed to tell their charges – report what A claims and what B says about what A claims, but keep your personal views about both A and B out of it.
Note that Sammon includes both those who say the planet has warmed – i.e. global warming advocates – and those who claim the opposite, that the planet has cooled – global warming critics. How much more even-handed – dare I say it, fair and balanced? – can the guy be?
There is also the factual nature of Sammon’s statement that critics question data. Critics DO question the data for a warming planet. He doesn’t demand that his reporters agree with the critics about the data or tell viewers that the critics are right and the global warming advocates are wrong.
Yet, Salon’s headline claims the Fox news executive was “again caught demanding conservative spin.” And the lead that follows makes another false statement, claiming Sammon directed his “anchors and reporters to adopt right-wing spin when discussing the news.”
Are these people so arrogant as to think the rest of us are too stupid to see that Salon totally and completely misrepresented Sammon’s comment?
The back story here, of course, is that Media Matters is doing exactly what billionaire radical liberal financier George Soros paid it $1 million to do, which is to trash Fox News at every opportunity no matter what the facts might be in any given situation.
Watching this campaign unfold, it becomes clear that Fox News drives today’s extremist liberals into the same sort of eye-bulging, irrational, spittle-flying, blind rage that we saw back in the 1950s from the far right whack-jobs in the John Birch Society who claimed Ike was either a fool or a card-carrying commie.
Now, just so everybody reading this knows: Sammon is a former White House reporter for The Examiner. I count him as a friend, a respected colleague and a solid journalist. And Fox News puts me in front of a camera as a talking head once in a while.
So how long you think it will be before Sammon’s critics claim my comments here aren't credible as a result? The reality is that the left-leaning MSNBC folks sit me down in front of their cameras to bloviate far more frequently than Fox does. Go figure.
So here's something to ponder when the paid Fox detractors at Media Matters tell you Sammon and I are both former Washington Timesmen and are thus Republican mouthpieces:
I was inducted into the First Amendment Center’s Freedom of Information Hall of Fame a few years ago. I mention this not to boast, but because I was among a bunch of very smart people for whom I have great respect - even though they came predominantly from the liberal side of things.
But I don’t recall seeing anybody from Media Matters among the inductees.