Playing the Julian Assange to Fox News’ Western Civilization, Media Matters intercepted emails that showed media bias at Fox News:
At the height of the health care reform debate last fall, Bill Sammon, Fox News’ controversial Washington managing editor, sent a memo directing his network’s journalists not to use the phrase “public option.”
Instead, Sammon wrote, Fox’s reporters should use “government option” and similar phrases — wording that a top Republican pollster had recommended in order to turn public opinion against the Democrats’ reform efforts.
Sammon suggested various terms, which stressed that the public option would be government-run health insurance – when in reality, the public option would in fact be run by… well, the government.
But the intrepid bias-hunters at Media Matters have a point – words make a difference. Media Matters’ counterpart on the right, Newsbusters, has taken this on by pointing out that maintaining current tax rates is not an increase in government spending – a misnomer used by CNN and other media outlets. (As an aside, Republicans have failed miserably in defining the expiration of the “Bush Tax Cuts” as a de facto tax increase.)
While factually accurate, describing the public option as “government health care” does convey a negative connotation. But maybe the question isn’t in the word choice among Fox News correspondents. A better question, perhaps, might be posed to the Administration and the President: Why hide the government health care program behind euphemisms?