SAMMON WILL HAVE TO DO BETTER THAN THIS…. The latest Media Matters scoop should be a pretty serious problem for Fox News Washington managing editor Bill Sammon. In 2009, onboard a pricey Mediterranean cruise sponsored by a right-wing college, Sammon acknowledged that he tried to link Barack Obama to “socialism” in 2008, as part of “mischievous speculation.”

This certainly isn’t good news for one of the Republican network’s top executives. Sammon said things on the air he didn’t believe as part of Fox News’ coverage of a presidential campaign — and he admitted it in public.

Pressed for an explanation, Sammon told Howard Kurtz today he doesn’t regret his misconduct because the “socialism” smear was “a main point of discussion on all the channels, in all the media.” By 2009, Sammon added, he was “astonished by how the needle had moved.”

Remember, Sammon considers this a defense for deliberately spreading nonsense he didn’t even believe on the air.

Greg Sargent’s reaction mirrored my own.

That’s pretty remarkable. Sammon is conceding that the idea did indeed strike him as far fetched in 2008, even though he and his network aggressively promoted it day in and day out throughout the campaign. And he’s defending this by pointing out that the idea ended up gaining traction, as if this somehow justifies the original act of dishonesty!

Now, Sammon is also claiming here that Obama’s behavior in office ultimately persuaded him that the original diagnosis of Obama as a socialist turned out to be correct after all. That in itself, of course, is also a ridiculous falsehood. But that aside, the bottom line here is that he doesn’t regret having spread an idea he personally found far-fetched, because so doing helped ensure that the far-fetched idea ultimately gained widespread acceptance. That’s a peculiar attitude for a “news” executive, isn’t it?

I’d just add that Sammon appears to be lying to excuse his lie. He pushed a talking point in 2008 he knew to be wrong, but now says it “a main point of discussion on all the channels.” Except, it wasn’t. Fox News was all over it — in part because Sammon distributed a memo to ensure this outcome — but credible, independent news organizations weren’t doing this at the time.

The “everybody does it” defense is itself weak, but it’s absurd when everybody else isn’t doing it.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.