Fox News Exec Said President Obama May Be a Socialist… Even Though He Didn’t Believe It

By Alex Weprin 

The liberal media-watchdog group Media Matters has yet another story about Fox News Channel’ Washington executive Bill Sammon.

This time, the organization has audio of Sammon admitting that while he said Obama may have been a socialist on-air, he did not actually believe what he was saying.

“At that time, I have to admit, that I went on TV on Fox News and publicly engaged in what I guess was some rather mischievous speculation about whether Barack Obama really advocated socialism, a premise that privately I found rather far-fetched,” Sammon said on a cruise sponsored by a conservative think-tank.

Sammon spoke to The Daily Beast’s Howard Kurtz to explain his comments:

In an interview, Sammon says his reference to “mischevious speculation” was “my probably inartful way of saying, ‘Can you believe how far this thing has come?’” The socialism question indeed “struck me as a far-fetched idea” in 2008. “I considered it kind of a remarkable notion that we would even be having the conversation.” He doesn’t regret repeatedly raising it on the air because, Sammon says, “it was a main point of discussion on all the channels, in all the media”—and by 2009 he was “astonished by how the needle had moved.”

Sammon notes that in the same talk on the cruise, he pointed out that George W. Bush had his own stimulus package and had spent half the TARP bailout money: “I was talking about both sides being big spenders.” (True; he also told the cruise guests that “when it comes to spending money, Obama makes Bush look like a piker.”)

Media Matters has released a number of emails from Sammon over the last few months showing the news executive promoting a number of talking points. In one he sought to downplay the reality of climate change, and in another he requested that FNC talent refer to a proposal in the President’s healthcare plan as the “government option,” rather than “public option.”