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 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 . 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 . And a ‘confession’ this week by a 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.’

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 appear to have tied the threatening vandalism with disruption at the town hall meeting by anti-health protesters.

The blog also reported this week that anti-health protesters have made the swatiska a common symbol on their signs and and Republican Party officials have made frequent references to Nazis in the language they used to criticize supporters of health reform. Typically they 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.’


Joel Wendland-Liu
Joel Wendland-Liu

Joel Wendland-Liu teaches courses on diversity, intercultural competence, migration, and civil rights at Grand Valley State University in West Michigan. He is the author of The Collectivity of Life: Spaces of Social Mobility and the Individualism Myth, and a former editor of Political Affairs.