Another Bill Sammon Memo, This Time on Climate Change, Is Made Public

By Alex Weprin Comment

Liberal media watchdog group Media Matters has released another memo from Fox News Channel VP and Washington managing editor Bill Sammon. Last week the organization released a memo from Sammon ordering FNC’s news anchors to call the “public option” the “government option” or some variation thereof.

This time, the topic is climate change.

On “Happening Now” last December, Wendell Goler reported that 2000-2009 was expected to be the warmest decade on record. Less than 15 minutes later, according to Media Matters, Sammon sent staffers the following memo:

From: Sammon, Bill
To: 169 -SPECIAL REPORT; 036 -FOX.WHU; 054 -FNSunday; 030 -Root (FoxNews.Com); 050 -Senior Producers; 051 -Producers; 069 -Politics; 005 -Washington
Cc: Clemente, Michael; Stack, John; Wallace, Jay; Smith, Sean
Sent: Tue Dec 08 12:49:51 2009
Subject: 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.

In a report later that day, Goler once again reported on the news… adding comments from climate skeptics.

In some respects, the new memo is more troubling than the one released last week.

Many independent critics, including from and Time Magazine, defended Sammon’s “government option” memo, arguing that the terms he was advocating for were actually more accurate and descriptive than “public option.”

This time personal politics seems to be more at play, especially when the timing of the email is taken into consideration.

By sending out the email so soon after Goler’s original report, which was–and remains–accurate, Sammon looked to be taking sides in a debate not about politics, but science. Terminology about what to call a proposed government plan is one thing, but a matter of scientific consensus is something completely different.

While the so-called “ClimateGate” scandal made headlines briefly last year, it has since been thoroughly debunked, and never did any reputable scientists argue that the leaked emails place the totality of climate science in doubt.

Even News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch is a firm believer in man-made climate change.

As an aside, the organization that leaked the scientist’s emails and started the whole “ClimateGate” controversy? That would be WikiLeaks, which is hardly getting positive treatment from the U.S. cable news channels at the moment.