Congressman Calls 'Fox & Friends' Liars, O'Donnell Thanks Him
More and more it's becoming clear that when Keith Olbermann takes a night off from "Countdown," and Lawrence O'Donnell fills in for him, viewers are getting the same hyperpartisan, hate-filled Democrat talking points.
Consider the reaction that Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) got from O'Donnell Tuesday evening after the Congressman called the folks at "Fox & Friends" liars earlier in the day.
"Congressman Anthony Weiner, Democrat of New York, thank you, thank you, thank you" (video embedded below the fold with transcript and commentary, h/t Right Scoop):
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: Last week, New York Representative Anthony Weiner grew weary of the traditional protocols of Congressional debate, and savaged his Republican colleagues over their attempts to scuttle a bill that would strip health insurance companies of their antitrust exemption. Before the vote on HR-4626, Mr. Weiner took to the podium and repeatedly called his GOP colleagues "a wholly-owned subsidiary of the insurance industry."
This morning, Congressman Weiner`s truth-telling continued with Brian Kilmeade and Steve Doocy of "Fox and Friends." After discussing the difficult decision House democrats face on health care reform, the congressman held up a mirror to the Fox hosts, throwing their own slanted coverage in their faces.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK: We should be honest about something here. Programs like this, there`s been an enormous amount of disinformation about what`s in the bill.
STEVE DOOCEY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: That`s according to you. That`s what you think.
WEINER: I think that there has been an orchestrated effort in a lot of quarters to lie about the bill.
BRIAN KILMEADE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: What have we lied about?
WEINER: Don`t get it all personal. I said programs like this -- I said programs like yours.
KILMEADE: Don`t be defensive. Like yours. I can get this guy in a head lock.
WEINER: Let me ask you: did anyone talk about death panels on this show throughout the last six months? Of course. That was a lie. That was a lie.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Stop the tape.
What was a lie? Was reporting the discussion concerning former Alaska governor Sarah Palin's claims about healthcare legislation leading to the creation of death panels a lie, or the claim itself?
After all, every news organization in America reported her concerns regarding this issue. Likely Fox covered it with less hostility and vitriol, but does that make them liars?
Beyond this, how does anyone really know what the truth is concerning death panels until the legislation goes into effect?
This is all mere speculation at this point, for if a current version of healthcare reform gets passed, and years from now medical decisions in hospitals and hospices around the country are indeed based on government finances and cost-benefit analyses, Palin's concerns would have been proven quite prescient.
As we know from experience in both Canada and Great Britain, medical decisions are indeed made based upon such analyses. And, right here in America, Medicare determines what procedures it will and won't cover.
As such, the idea that something akin to death panels -- doctors discussing financial matters with the ill and/or their relatives during end-of-life counseling sessions -- could result from government-mandated healthcare is not only not farfetched, but instead seems quite possible.
With this in mind, news agencies that discussed this matter with a more open-minded view of what happens around the world -- including right here -- when government is involved in healthcare could hardly be called liars.
But such logic wasn't on O'Donnell's mind Tuesday:
O`DONNELL: But the death panel fear-mongering was six months ago. How about fresh Fox lies like, say, 30 minutes before Congressman Weiner`s appearance, during a segment ironically branded "Prescription for Truth."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETER JOHNSON, FOX NEWS LEGAL ANALYST: The house is going to adopt the senate bill after all of this wrangling. And everything that a lot of people find objectionable in that Senate bill is going to be adopted by the House, federal funding of abortion, not the Stupak approach.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Of course, that claim is provably false. There is no federal funding for abortion in the Senate bill. The Hyde Amendment prohibiting federal funding of abortion still applies.
Stop the tape. Who's lying now?
In November, the Senate did indeed vote down an abortion restriction in its bill. As CNN.com reported at the time:
The Senate on Tuesday rejected an amendment to tighten restrictions on federal funding for abortion in the sweeping health care bill it is debating.
On a 54-45 vote, the chamber agreed to table the amendment, which effectively killed it from further consideration. Rejection of the amendment means the Senate health bill, if approved with the current abortion language, would differ from more restrictive language in the House version of the bill passed last month.
The amendment filed Monday by Sens. Ben Nelson, D-Nebraska, and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, mirrored language in the House bill that prevents any health plan receiving federal subsidies from offering coverage for abortion.
Anti-abortion legislators said the amendment would maintain the current level of restriction by preventing any federal funding for abortion except in the case of rape, incest or a threat to the life of the mother.
Even O'Donnell's colleagues Chris Matthews and Andrea Mitchell are aware of the differences between the Senate and House bills concerning abortion, as they discussed it on air last Thursday:
Why will they lose pro-Life people in the House? Because the Senate bill has loopholes in it which will allow for federal funding of abortions, and it seems everyone in America EXCEPT Lawrence O'Donnell is aware of it:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Well, they've gotten a bill passed in the House. They've gotten a bill passed in the Senate. And they were on the road to a conference agreement. They were going to get one. They would have to tilt to the left in the House to get around Stupak...
ANDREA MITCHELL: On the abortion issue.
MATTHEWS: On the substantive issue, they'll need at least thirteen votes or so from the more liberal side to make up for the pro-choice, pro-Life people they're going to lose.
O'DONNELL: In a moment, Congressman Weiner, who somehow escaped that studio, will join us.
First, a little more right wing nuttiness. On Sunday, Speaker Pelosi told ABC News that House Democrats would need to find the courage to pass an imperfect health care reform bill. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you say to your members when it does come to the House to vote on this, who are in real fear of losing their seats in November if they support you now?
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: Well, first of all, our members, every one of them, wants health care. I think everybody wants affordable health care for all Americans.
They know that this will take courage. It took courage to pass Social Security. It took courage to pass Medicare. And many of the same forces that were at work decades ago are at work again against this bill.
But the American people need it. Why are we here? We`re not here just to self-perpetuate our service in Congress. We`re here to do the job for the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The one and only Rush Limbaugh took that notion, that a member of Congress should do the right thing, and turned it into Jihad. Listen to him compare the Speaker of the House to a terrorist mastermind.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Yeah, there she is again. There`s Pelosi. You know what? She`s -- I`m going to tell you what -- here`s a way we have to start looking at Nancy Pelosi: Mullah Nancy bin Pelosi. She`s no different than these mullahs and these imams who convince all these people to put bombs on their kids and send them out there to blow up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now is the five-term representative from New York`s Ninth Congressional District, Brooklyn`s own Congressman Anthony Weiner. Congressman Weiner, I have exactly two words for you: thank you. What did you --
WEINER: Well, usually when you get two -- when someone says they have two words for you in Brooklyn, it doesn`t come out to be thank you. But I appreciate it.
O`DONNELL: What did you think you were getting into when you went over to "Fox & Friends" this morning?
WEINER: Well, you know, Fox and I are like two star crossed lovers. They keep asking me out on dates, and they never seem to work out that well. But the fact of the matter is that if you look at this debate, when you have these polls that say people are against health care, it`s largely because there has been an effort -- and it`s been single-minded. You have to give Fox credit. They are disciplined. A single-minded effort to undermine this.
They repeatedly refer to this as the government takeover of health care. You know, many people like myself, who support a single-payer system, we lament the idea that we`re taking -- we`re investing hundreds of billions of dollars in private insurance companies. It`s actually the opposite of a government takeover.
But Fox does that kind of thing every day. I`ve taken a different strategy than some of my colleagues. I don`t mind going over there and kind of mixing it up with them a little bit, because I think that, frankly, their viewers have a right to hear the truth about health care also.
O`DONNELL: Now, Congressman Weiner, did the Democrats not see this propaganda machine coming a year ago when you were cranking up for the health care reform crusade? There`s been so much criticism of President Obama now among Democrats, saying he didn`t make it clear to the American people what this bill was. But how was he supposed to do that in the face of lies about death panels and this giant fog machine of lies that was coming all over the debate and drowning out the truth of what was in this thing?
WEINER: Well, from the moment -- I`m on one of the committees that helped draw this bill together. From the moment go, we knew we were going to have some issues that traditionally come up: how to deal with the undocumented, how you deal with issues of choice. Those issues, to some degree, we knew were coming and, frankly, we knew that the battle was going to go on within our party over things like an increasing government role, expanding Medicare, like I wanted to do.
Some of this, though, was remarkable, in that it was drawn from broad cloth. The death panel, which turned out was a provision to provide people with reimbursement to have conversation with their doctor about end of life care, that was the hospitals and the insurance industry that asked for that provision to be put in. It was originally drafted by a Republican.
So some of things came out of nowhere. But the one thing that I think we should have learned and internalized much earlier is that when you`re trying to stop something, it`s much easier. You know, it`s the old expression, it takes a great woman to build a barn, but any jackass can kick it down. We learned in health care that that`s certainly the case.
O`DONNELL: As you watch the Senate develop daily more and more support for the public option, is that giving any hope in the House of Representatives that you could get a public option in the bill that presumably would be designed in a reconciliation vehicle, after you vote for the Senate bill? Even Senator Conrad tonight, on this air, saying he`s open to the idea of a public option depending on the details, by which I would think he would means exactly what the reimbursement rates are and things like that.
WEINER: I don`t see any reason why not. I can`t find anyone in this town who says it`s dead, but everyone seems to agree that it is. The president of the United States says he supports it. Tom Harkin was on your program saying that there are 55 senators that support it. The House has already passed it. As many as 70 percent of Americans, when you describe it like what it is, which is a government-run system like Medicare -- 70 percent support it. It`s hard to figure out why it`s not included, now that we`re back on a 51 vote path, rather than the absurd 60 vote dynamic.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Anthony Weiner, Democrat of New York, thank you, thank you, thank you.
WEINER: Thank you.
For those interested, here is the entire "Fox & Friends " segment:
Exit question: who was lying - "Fox & Friends" or O'Donnell?