March 12, 2023


Bill Sammon, the Deer HunterHow the former managing editor of Fox News kept his head while everyone else seemed to be losing theirs. (Chris Stirewalt, Mar 6, 2023, The Dispatch)

Like all people through all time, many Americans today would like to have the good things that come from wealth and power but not to face the hard choices that the pursuit of these things invariably bring to those who wish to be ethical people. They set out to succeed as political leaders, or business tycoons, or celebrities, or journalists, but don't think about the implications. And when the time comes to pull the trigger--to risk reelection, economic loss, influence, or audience in order to do what they set out to do--they fail.

Too few of us are like my old boss, Bill Sammon, who, as managing editor for the Fox News Channel, faced extraordinary pressure to flinch at a crucial moment in the work he had set out to do as a journalist. Americans now know some of the story about how Sammon stayed steady and purposeful when his bosses and so many at our then employer were surrendering to fear. 

"Weak ratings make good journalists do bad things," Bill wrote to me in a private email during the period of panic at Fox following our correct call of Arizona for Joe Biden in 2020. I didn't remember the email until I read it in the wall-to-wall coverage of the suit against Fox by Dominion Voting Systems. But I did remember how steady and sure he was, and how I counted on him to keep his head while everyone else seemed to be losing theirs. 

But now the story is out, including how Bill was sacrificed to send "a big message with Trump people." I got tossed overboard, too. But sacking Bill is the only part that still sticks in my craw. I know how good he was, and how he stayed straight even when the weight of the world was coming down on him.

"Morals excite passions, and produce or prevent actions. Reason of itself is utterly impotent in this particular," David Hume wrote in A Treatise of Human Nature. "The rules of morality therefore, are not conclusions of our reason."

Posted by at March 12, 2023 12:00 AM