Thursday, February 17, 2005

Brit Hume should resign

Resign Brit Hume
Originally uploaded by mwthomas87.

Brit Hume, the chief anchor/propagandist for Faux News, recently committed a journalistic sin a hundred times worse than anything that Dan Rather ever did and should therefore resign.

Following is a summary of Hume's deliberate manipulation and misrepresentation of quotes by Franklin Roosevelt in an effort to create a false impression that the founder of our Social Security system would support our current president's efforts to dismantle his legacy.

Here's Brit Hume, the Fox News Channel's top news anchor, on February 3: 

In a written statement to Congress in 1935, Roosevelt said that any Social Security plans should include, quote, "Voluntary contributory annuities, by which individual initiative can increase the annual amounts received in old age," adding that government funding, quote, "ought to ultimately be supplanted by self-supporting annuity plans.

Hume's claim is that FDR wanted to replace Social Security with private accounts. Hume is lying. Here's the FDR statement that Hume is misquoting:

In the important field of security for our old people, it seems necessary to adopt three principles: First, non-contributory old-age pensions for those who are now too old to build up their own insurance. It is, of course, clear that for perhaps thirty years to come funds will have to be provided by the States and the Federal Government to meet these pensions. Second, compulsory contributory annuities which in time will establish a self-supporting system for those now young and for future generations. Third, voluntary contributory annuities by which individual initiative can increase the annual amounts received in old age. It is proposed that the Federal Government assume one-half of the cost of the old-age pension plan, which ought ultimately to be supplanted by self-supporting annuity plans.

So, FDR was proposing three things: a temporary "old-age pension," for seniors who wouldn't have time to pay into the Social Security system; a compulsory-contribution annuity--meaning, Social Security as we know it today--which would become a "self-supporting system," and, third, voluntary individual accounts. Ultimately, the old-age pensions would be supplanted by the self-supporting annuity system (meaning, Social Security.)

Hume turns this completely on its head. He pulls two unrelated bits out of the FDR quote, and adds the wrods "government funding" between them. Because it's so carefully done, it's clear that it's deliberate. And it's a nasty form of dishonesty. Hume is manipulating Americans' trust of FDR in order to build support for dismantling FDR's legacy.

Although it won't be as explosive politically, this is worse than Dan Rather's memo scandal. First of all, it's deliberate. Secondly, it's untrue. Dan Rather was guilty of being insufficiently skeptical of forged, true documents. But Brit Hume, Fox News Channel's #1 anchor--not commentator, not editorialist, anchor--is deliberately perverting the words of a hero to destroy the hero's legacy. 

Brit Hume should resign.

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