Media Matters obtained audio of Bill Sammon, Fox News' Washington managing editor, speaking on a Mediterranean cruise in 2009. On the tape, Sammon begins by talking about "mischief," before segueing into what he identifies as some mischief-making of his own:
"Last year, candidate Barack Obama stood on a sidewalk in Toledo, Ohio, and first let it slip to Joe the Plumber that he wanted to 'spread the wealth around.' 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 goes on to say that he stopped thinking the idea was far-fetched when he saw Obama taking action to prop up the ailing American car industry.
"The debate over whether America is headed for socialism seems all too real, especially to those who still believe in capitalism," he said.
Sammon did indeed go on air and talk about socialism, multiple times. On one occasion in October 2008, he told Greta Van Susteren, ""I have read Barack Obama's books pretty carefully, and he in his own words talks about being drawn to Marxists. ... Now all this stuff's coming out about whether he's a socialist. I don't know why anyone is surprised by it, because if you read his own words...it's not a huge shock."
This is not the first time that Media Matters has targeted Sammon. The site also obtained leaked emails showing him asking staffers to echo GOP talking points on health care reform and to cast doubt on climate change.
In an interview with The Daily Beast's Howard Kurtz on Tuesday, Sammon said that his use of "mischievous speculation" in the speech was "my probably inartful way of saying, 'can you believe how far this thing has come?'" He admitted that, in 2008, he "considered it kind of a remarkable notion that we would even be having the conversation" about socialism, but that he raised it on air because "it was a main point of discussion on all the channels, in all the media."