PBS Touts ObamaCare Through Story on Prenatal Nutrition

PBS found a sly new way to promote ObamaCare on Monday’s NewsHour. It came as part of a feature story on nutrition for young mothers and their infants. Anchor Judy Woodruff introduced the story by talking about malnutrition in young children and the importance of proper nutrition for mothers, particularly young ones. This set up her selling point: “Starting in 2010, a program under the health care reform law made that idea more of a possibility in many states.”

The story that followed centered around the Circle of Life program, which essentially helps young, low-income parents in northern Arkansas raise their children. PBS correspondent Hari Sreenivasan, who narrated the package, explained Circle of Life’s connection to ObamaCare:

 

It’s one of many home visiting projects throughout the nation that received a big financial boost under the Affordable Care Act to bring basic preventative services directly to low-income families.
 

PBS clearly tried to pull on viewers’ heartstrings. The story began with a look at Tori Moon, a pregnant 20-year-old who lives in a motel and eats donated food. She’s lonely, according to Sreenivasan, because her fiancé works long hours and she doesn’t have many family members in the area. What’s more, she lives in a socially conservative part of the country. Said Miss Moon, “It was really hard for me to make friends, being pregnant, because we live in the Bible Belt, and a lot of people around here don’t believe in being pregnant before marriage.”

The PBS crew must have salivated when she said that on-camera. You know they couldn’t pass up an opportunity to portray social conservatives as the bad guys. Then, in the very next line, Sreenivasan reassured his viewers that there was a government-funded program to save this poor young woman:
 

But Moon can count on at least one person dropping by regularly. Every other week, Deena Tougaw sits down with Moon to discuss ways of staying healthy during pregnancy.... Tougaw runs the Circle of Life program in Northern Arkansas.
 

You see? Circle of Life, with financial backing from ObamaCare, is here to save the day! Who could possibly oppose the health care law now? According to Sreenivasan, the young mothers involved in Circle of Life need it to survive. “There are currently 38 new or expecting mothers enrolled in the program, and without this kind of help, most would face what the government calls ‘severe food insecurity,’” he intoned.

‘Severe food insecurity?’ Well, at least they won’t be hungry.

This story was a perfect example of PBS selling big government to its viewing audience. A government-funded program was portrayed as a sort of heroic figure, stepping in to provide prenatal care in lieu of this young woman’s family members. And because the funding for this program was provided for under the Affordable Care Act, the story basically served as a commercial for ObamaCare, too.

Who says taxpayer-subsidized PBS isn’t state-run television?

Below is a partial transcript of the story:


JUDY WOODRUFF: Nearly 16 million children in this country don’t always have access to the food they need. A growing body of research indicates the younger they are, the more serious the long-term impact can be, a key concern, making sure the very youngest and pregnant women are getting the proper nutrition.

Starting in 2010, a program under the health care reform law made that idea more of a possibility in many states.

Hari Sreenivasan has our report on one effort in Northern Arkansas.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Tori Moon always thought life on her own would look different than this. At 20, she lives in a budget motel in Harrison, Arkansas, eats donated food when it’s available and is now several months pregnant. Without much family in the area and a fiancé who works long hours, she spends much of her time feeling alone.

TORI MOON: It was really hard for me to make friends, being pregnant, because we live in the Bible Belt, and a lot of people around here don’t believe in being pregnant before marriage.

SREENIVASAN: But Moon can count on at least one person dropping by regularly. Every other week, Deena Tougaw sits down with Moon to discuss ways of staying healthy during pregnancy.

DEENA TOUGAW, Circle of Life: I want you to write down what you eat for breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack.



SREENIVASAN: They talk about how that can translate into long-term benefits for her child. Tougaw runs the Circle of Life program in Northern Arkansas. It’s one of many home visiting projects throughout the nation that received a big financial boost under the Affordable Care Act to bring basic preventative services directly to low-income families.

TOUGAW: And the two things that you marked that you don’t get any of would be your dark green or orange-yellow vegetables.

SREENIVASAN: And, quite often, that includes lessons on how to eat better when resources are slim.

In places like Harrison, a town of about 13,000 in the Ozark Mountains, the barriers to good health for mothers and children can be steep. Poverty and teen pregnancy rates here are among the highest in the nation, and a trip to the store for fruits and vegetables is often a long one.

That’s why Tougaw and her staff use a portion of their $140,000 budget to drive Moon and others to the grocery store when necessary.

TOUGAW: Why don’t you go ahead and grab you a bag if you like them?

SREENIVASAN: There are currently 38 new or expecting mothers enrolled in the program, and without this kind of help, most would face what the government calls severe food insecurity.
 

Paul Bremmer
Paul Bremmer is a Media Research Center News Analysis Division intern.