More: Fox: the Socialist News Network

Fox: the Socialist News Network

To watch Fox News on Tuesday, you'd think a new Berlin Wall was about to be erected along the banks of the Mississippi. With President Obama signing the stimulus, the word "socialism" was almost never far away from the lips of someone on the network.

A search of transcripts available on Lexis-Nexis -- a limited sample, unfortunately -- for Fox's programming from Tuesday shows that in the span of just six hours, the network managed to squeeze in five segments devoted to a discussion of impending socialism; the words "socialism," "socialist" and "social democracy" were used a total of 37 times. "Your World with Neil Cavuto," "The O'Reilly Factor" and "On the Record with Greta" all managed to stay socialism free, but "Special Report" and "Hannity" each had two segments about it, and "Glenn Beck" had one. No transcript for "FOX Report" was available, but I happened to see the show repeat one of the segments from "Special Report," for a total of six time slots on the subject between 4 p.m. ET and 11 p.m.

Admittedly, the channel wasn't nearly as socialism-heavy before Tuesday. A search of transcripts available for the weekday programming from last week, as well as this Monday, revealed only one additional segment, from "Hannity." There were 58 additional uses of the words "socialism," "socialist" and "social democracy," however. (It's also worth noting that none of these counts include the network's in-house advertising, which, from anecdotal observation Tuesday, seemed to be pushing Beck and Hannity's discussion of the issue pretty hard.)

We did the same search of CNN and MSNBC, over the same time period, and came up with only two occurrences of those key words -- both in the same night, from the mouth of Lou Dobbs, natch.

Considering all that, it might be nice if Fox actually appeared to know what socialism is. Unfortunately, the story from Tuesday's "Special Report" and "Fox Report," a news piece that anchor Bret Baier billed as a "fair and balanced look," gave no indication that reporter Shannon Bream had any idea what she was talking about.

The Library of Economics and Liberty's article on the subject, written by the late Robert Heilbroner, a longtime socialist who was the Norman Thomas Professor of Economics emeritus at the New School, defines socialism as "a centrally planned economy in which the government controls all means of production."

But Bream based her report on the share of the U.S. gross domestic product made up of government spending. That's a unique benchmark, to say the least -- indeed, it's so meaningless that by using it to examine a broad swath of countries worldwide, you could make a decent case that socialism won the Cold War. In Bream's defense, though, she appears to have lifted it almost straight from Jon Meacham and Evan Thomas' recent article in Newsweek, "We're All Socialists Now." But at least the Newsweek writers weren't disingenuous in their use of the statistic; Bream was. Meacham and Thomas wrote:

[T]he numbers clearly suggest that we are headed in a more European direction. A decade ago U.S. government spending was 34.3 percent of GDP, compared with 48.2 percent in the euro zone... In 2010 U.S. spending is expected to be 39.9 percent of GDP, compared with 47.1 percent in the euro zone... As entitlement spending rises over the next decade, we will become even more French...

The architect of this new era of big government? History has a sense of humor, for the man who laid the foundations for the world Obama now rules is George W. Bush, who moved to bail out the financial sector last autumn with $700 billion.

Bream used the same numbers, but her story focused entirely on Obama. In a special touch, before she recited those figures she brushed away the correct definition of "socialism" that had been offered by the Center for American Progress' Heather Bouchey with a curt "semantics aside..."

Moreover, if you look at a bigger picture of the same statistics from the same source,  the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, that 39.9 percent of GDP number doesn't seem quite so out of the ordinary. The figure from 1999 that Meacham and Thomas were the first to use -- government spending at 34.3 percent of GDP -- happens to be the second-lowest the U.S. has seen since at least 1981. The lowest was 34.2 percent, in 2000.

Government spending's share of the GDP has risen under each of the last three Republican presidents, while it fell fell under former President Clinton's watch. Under Ronald Reagan, it reached a high of 37.2 percent, in 1986. George H.W. Bush saw it top out at 38.5 percent in 1992 -- his son watched it climb to a peak of 38.6 percent last year. This year, the OECD projects, it will hit 39.8 percent.

JojoWazoo JojoWazoo
46-50, F
16 Responses Feb 20, 2009

Our monetary policy and interest rates have been fed by fear of over inflation for years and years. Seems old as time. <br />
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Yes, there will be increased inflation. Beats the alternative that is being offered up (namely: nothing).

I posted a story about one of Krugman's articles, SG. I know what you're talking about. <br />
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In order to get those few Republican votes in the senate, Obama and the Dems had to make almost 40% of the bill tax cuts, which have been statistically proven to be not very "stimulating" to the economy. But tax breaks are all Republicans care about, so......

The only problem with the fiscal stimulus package, as far as I can see, is that it is just too small. I find Krugman's articles about needing a far larger amount to be convincing.

Hence the other article:<br />
Republicans Fiddle While America Burns<br />
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Too bad many of the republicans vote against their best interests, especially their financial best interest.

Looks like Obama failed to bring change we can believe in. He's failed to be bipartisan because not a single republican in the house voted for his bill, and only 3 republican senators did. He didn't bring change we can believe in, so there mr. inspiring leader, whatchoo have to say to that?... blah blah blah blah. <br />
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Give me a break. Republicans didn't have a single idea on what to do to the economy besides A: nothing or B: more tax cuts. Well since the job market is collapsing and demand has shriveled up and consumer confidence is at near record lows, doing nothing is not an option. And so Obama took choice B and made almost 40% of the bill tax cuts and he took many projects such as public education funding and family planning out of the bill to please republicans... and they STILL didn't vote for the effin thing. <br />
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Screw them. They're praying America's economy doesn't recover so they can score political points by saying "There! Told you so mr. smarty pants president!" <br />
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Bunch of morons.

Hey MsBlue,<br />
You wrote: STOP attacking each other's parties, and come together in this country to try and turn around everything that is going wrong. <br />
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I guess that will never happen. President Obama has nearly had his arm ripped off trying to reach across the aisle. No one had done that in the past 8 years. Too bad the other side slapped his hand away and continue to detract from all he is trying to do to set things right for our country. I hear all of this harping that our President hasn't done anything to fix what he promised. Today is the one month anniversary of his presidency. It's only been 4 weeks. It took us 8 years to get where we're at today.<br />
I'm also glad to know you're not watching Fox news anymore. That's not news, it's propaganda!

Sometimes to correct a bad situation, you have to look for an outside soultion. Is the stimulus package foolproof?? NO. Does it have a lot of waste? YES. BUT - something had to be done and at least our governement IS doing something -- I believe the reason for the waste in the bill that was passed is that is was an urgent bill and it NEEDED to be passed. <br />
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Moving towards the European system may NOT be a bad idea. We have left things in this country status quo for such a LONG time. You have to shake a tree to get the apples down ... <br />
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I think we need to unify as a society - STOP attacking each other's parties, and come together in this country to try and turn around everything that is going wrong. <br />
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The stimulus package - if we can inject money into comapnies so they can grow, they can increase production and start hiring people. But it is a double edged sword because if there is not demand for something - then the supply dwindles, and if each person receives a stimulus check and DOES NOT spend it - this whole plan could back fire. <br />
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I do agree on the Fox channel though - I can not even watch it anymore... and Sean Hannity is a joke.

Well I'm no fan of the Federal Reserve. If you're curious why, you can view the video blog I posted "Money as Debt". It's an eye opening cartoon which exposes the unsustainability of our economic system. <br />
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Everyone has been busy pointing fingers at everyone, but not enough of the blame is laid at the feet of Greenspan. His embrace of Reaganomics and his ridiculous rate decreases aren't looking so hot at the moment.

whutt i lived through the 70's and 80's unemployment, inflation, and interest rates were worse then than they are now. I remember the S&L crisis and how bad things were during that time. Things are bad yes but we are not near the same levels with unemployment, inflation, and interest rates as then. It may go there and with all the government intervention it most likley will go further but only becasue this is where the government wants it to go because that is where they seem to want it to go. <br />
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I do not agree with Keynesian economics. I believe more in the Austrian School of economics. Keynesians alllow for the federal reserve and the manipulation of things by the government which create our problems. Austrian no federal reserve and manipulation therefore true capitolisiam.

You're welcome SaratogaGirl! I can't believe the crap that's spewing from the conservatives over this bailout package. It's ok when you GIVE taxpayer money to capitalist corporations but its socialism when you try to help the middle class, the very backbone of our country. You know, the people who actually pay the bulk of the taxes because trickle down economics/tax cuts for the rich does not and has not worked.<br />
I'll never understand that way of thinking. Socialist? NOT!

I don't expect grits to respond, she rarely does. <br />
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It was a cunning move by Paulson. I'd say Bush as well, but I don't think he's capable of such foresight. Paulson hoodwinked Congress, and the resulting outrage over the wasted $350 Billion hammered anyone in favor of the stimulus bill (which ended up being everyone that didn't have an R after their name).

Wow, Grits. You sat there and counted that? I seem to remember the same thing when Wall Street needed to be bailed out! Every big wig from Wall Street, the Treasury Sec. you name it were red faced and screaming like James Cramer that they HAD to have *that* money or the economy was going to collapse. Paulson should be put on a rail and dragged out of town! They got what they wanted, they looted the treasury without oversight and the rest is history. Your outrage is very much misplaced by a long shot!

grits, in January the economy lost 600,000 jobs. This month looks like we'll lose an additional 700,000 jobs. We've lost about 4 million in the past year. Obama is not exaggerating the gloom and doom, if anything he is describing the situation too lightly. <br />
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At what point will you concede that competent government intervention is needed? (as opposed to what Paulson did with the first $350 billion before Obama was sworn in)

Thank you, Jojo, for a meaningful look at this phenomenon... the branding as "socialism" anything the President does. (I have no doubt that Fox would find his flossing to be somehow "socialistic" if they tried!)<br />
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Government intervention into the economy is NOT socialism. It is not even Social Democratic, per se. It is simply good economics. Even Richard Nixon believed in it, declaring that we were "all Keynesians now." <br />
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The current economic problems could be ignored, (apparently what Fox and its ilk would like to see), at the risk of a global Depression of a magnitude such that World War might be the consequence. (Perhaps the right-wing would like that, as it would advance the militarization of society), or it could be addressed in a meaningful way... such as the President and other world leaders are doing.<br />
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Thank you again.

you failed to mention that during Obama's speech he used the word "crisis" 25 times. the economy is in bad shape right now but we have seen far worse in our history with out all this intervention by the government and it really doesn't help when you have a President who only talks gloom and doom to get his spending programs in place. We have had far to much of that. Change we can believe in would have been nice if he had taken a different direction but it is clear he is doing business as usual as those before him.