Dec 9, 2010

Fox News and the impartial partisans

Want to see what happens when a news operation drops impartiality as the framework for gathering and disseminating information? Look at how Fox News decided to frame the health care debate. Howard Kurtz has the report at the Daily Beast - the piece starts with Republican pollster Frank Luntz coaching Fox host Sean Hannity on the right words to use:
“If you call it a public option, the American people are split,” [Luntz] explained. “If you call it the government option, the public is overwhelmingly against it."

“A great point,” Hannity declared. “And from now on, I'm going to call it the government option, because that's what it is.”

On Oct. 27, the day after Senate Democrats introduced a bill with a public insurance option from which states could opt out, Bill Sammon, a Fox News vice president and Washington managing editor, sent the staff a memo. Sammon is a former Washington Times reporter.

“Please use the term ‘government-run health insurance,’ or, when brevity is a concern, ‘government option,’ whenever possible,” the memo said.

Sammon acknowledged that the phrase "public option" was “firmly ensconced in the nation’s lexicon,” so when it was necessary to use it, he wrote, add the qualifier “so-called,” as in “the so-called public option.” And “here’s another way to phrase it: ‘The public option, which is the government-run plan.’”
Advocacy organizations like Fox News deny their partisan framing all the while claiming to be impartial, and blaming all the media that isn't conservative-leaning of having a liberal bias. In this case, "public option" is also a partisan framing preferred by supporters of the plan. Had Fox health care reporters come up with a way to describe the plan based on their own reporting, they might have called it "government-run." Instead, they borrowed the phrase most favorable to the Republican position. That's what happens when journalists claim the mantle of impartiality without actually practicing impartiality.

(found via LA Observed)


Anonymous said...

oh the liberal whining never stops, especially when the left doesn't get its way. no surprise! Instead of complaining about Fox News all the time, how about coming up with fair-and-balanced news reporting on your own... sorry that doesn't mean Keith Olbermann, Chris Matthews and the like. Is it any wonder alleged news networks like CNBC are so lowly rated by viewers? At least Fox gives you the news with its GOP spin, CNBC and its kindred only give you the Obama platform spoon fed.

Larson E. Whipsnade said...

"Keith Olbermann Punk-Smacks Obama in the Best ‘Special Comment’ EVAH!"

Could you share a link showing where Fox News was anything but a shill...