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Fox News: Still Unfair and Unbalanced

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It probably comes as no surprise that conservative cable network Fox
News opposes health reform. In addition to some of its major
personalities promoting disruptions and even violence at congressional
town hall meetings, the guests and commentators invited to appear on Fox News programs seem to overwhelmingly oppose health reform as well,
according to a recent study by watchdog group Media Matters for
America.

The data revealed that Fox News' claim to being "fair and balanced" is simply false.


In a two-day study this past week, Media Matters reviewed video and
transcripts from Fox News programming. The results showed that of 84
guests who appeared on Fox News shows to speak about health reform in
that time period, 63 expressed opposition to progressive health reform,
while only 10 seemed to support it. Only 11 were cited as being neutral
in the study.


Fox News personalities have also reported falsely about anti-health
protests. For example, Fox News TV personalities distorted recent
comments by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi when she expressed serious concerns
about some of the people who have disrupted town hall meetings or other
events. Some of them are "carrying swastikas and symbols like that to a
town meeting on health care," Pelosi said.


Pelosi's comments suggested that she believes that much of the
anti-health protests were inspired by right-wing media and promoted by
insurance industry-backed anti-health front groups.
Further, her remarks indicated that she believes that some anti-health
protesters and right-wing media commentators have gone too far in their
rhetoric and actions.


Pelosi's assertion that insurance industry-linked groups are behind
much of the protests has been confirmed by other media reports, such as
in a recent investigation by MSNBC's Rachel Maddow. And a "confession" this week by a former insurance industry executive
also revealed that much of the script for anti-health protests and
right-wing media talking points originated in the offices of insurance
industry lobbyists. Former CIGNA Vice President Wendell Potter told
reporters this week, "When you hear someone complaining about traveling
down a 'slippery slope to socialism,' some insurance flack, like I used
to be, wrote that."
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While many media reports have also supported Pelosi claims that
anti-health protesters have in fact brought Nazi symbols to events, Fox
News personality Sean Hannity accused Speaker Pelosi of lying and of
"comparing [anti-health protesters] to Nazis."


Earlier this month, after a meeting between Rep. David Scott, D-Ga.,
and his constituents, during which anti-health protesters disrupted the
proceedings, an as yet unknown person painted a swatiska on a sign at
Rep. Scott's Smyrna, Georgia offices. The FBI has launched an
investigation into the matter, but local and national media appear to have tied the threatening vandalism with disruption at the town hall meeting by anti-health protesters.

The blog Think Progress also reported this week that anti-health protesters have made the swatiska a common symbol on their signs and right-wing media personalities
and Republican Party officials have made frequent references to Nazis
in the language they used to criticize supporters of health reform.
Typically they compare the President and members of Congress who support health reform to Nazis.

Last week, Anti-Defamation League National Director and Holocaust
survivor Abraham Foxman criticized the use of Nazi symbols and rhetoric
by right-wing media personalities, politicians and anti-health
protesters. "Regardless of the political differences and the
substantive differences in the debate over health care, the use of Nazi
symbolism is outrageous, offensive and inappropriate," Foxman said.


Referring to right-wing media and Republican Party comments that
compared President Obama or other proponents of reform to Hitler,
Foxman explained, "[c]omparisons to the Nazis are deeply offensive and
only serve to diminish and trivialize the extent of the Nazi regime's
crimes against humanity and the murder of six million Jews and millions
of others in the Holocaust."
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--Joel Wendland is editor of Political Affairs.

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