Media Matters has obtained a leaked memo from Fox News, where an executive advises producers to use GOP-pollster approved language during their newscast:
1) Please use the term "government-run health insurance" or, when brevity is a concern, "government option," whenever possible.
2) When it is necessary to use the term "public option" (which is, after all, firmly ensconced in the nation's lexicon), use the qualifier "so-called," as in "the so-called public option."
3) Here's another way to phrase it: "The public option, which is the government-run plan."
4) When newsmakers and sources use the term "public option" in our stories, there's not a lot we can do about it, since quotes are of course sacrosanct.
Jon Chait, crooked Gendarme, is "shocked, shocked to find partisan messaging" at Fox News. But this, I think, reveals a deeper problem for the left than simply Fox News' Republican favoritism. This language only favors Republicans insofar as the public thinks the government is bad -- it's not inaccurate.
Now, Fox News and Republicans have been trying for years to convince the public of this, so that's part of the problem, but this particular case really speaks to the challenge progressives have in convincing Americans that government is actually good for them -- that "government" and "public" should be as interchangeable as Fox News anchors suggest, without either having a negative connotation.
Of course, preventing people from realizing that is one reason for the GOP's relentless obstruction -- if good policy isn't made, people won't trust the government.
-- Tim Fernholz