MSNBC's David Shuster on Friday attacked conservatives for "targeting" an 11-year-old child who lost his mother and is now lobbying for government-run health care. The liberal anchor sneered, "Is the right sinking to a new low? We'll let you judge for yourself." He then interviewed the young Marcelas Owens and his grandmother, for the second time in ten days.
In case viewers didn't get the slant of the segment, MSNBC's graphic reiterated, "New Low For Right? Conservative Critics Call Owens' Tale a 'Sob Story.'" As the MRC's Tim Graham noted, this story is being heavily pushed by Media Matters and other left-leaning outlets. Shuster did not talk to any conservative voices. (He only played a brief clip of Rush Limbaugh asserting that Democrats are using Owens for their own purposes.)
Shuster prompted the child to explain how he wasn't being exploited: "Marcelas, first of all, did anybody in the Democratic Party force you to tell this story?" The liberal cable anchor also offered this loaded question to the boy's grandmother, Gina Owens: "Gina, what was your reaction when you heard Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck targeting your grandson?"
Considering that there are many horror stories from countries that do have government-run health care, wouldn't it only be fair of Shuster to talk to some of those victims? Despite the journalist's pledge to "let you judge for yourself," MSNBC doesn't seem interested in that.
A transcript of the March 19 News Live segment, which aired at 10:22am EDT, follows:
DAVID SHUSTER: Is the right sinking to a new low? We'll let you judge for yourself. Last week, I interviewed Marcelas Owens who spent his 11th birthday on Capitol Hill fighting for health care reform. It's a very personal issue for Marcelas whose mother died at the age of 27.
MARCELAS OWENS: -2006. She missed so much that she lost her job and along with her job. And along with that job, she lost her health care. And losing her health care ended up causing her her life. And I wanted to finish her fight for health care. So, I don't want any other kid to go through the pain that our family has gone through.
MSNBC GRAPHIC: New Low For Right? Conservative Critics Call Owens' Tale a "Sob Story"
SHUSTER: Conservative radio talk show hosts like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh jumped all over this, accusing Democrats of using Owens to further their cause.
RUSH LIMBAUGH: Now, this is unseemly, exploitative. An 11-year-old kid being forced to tell this story all over just to benefit the Democrat Party and Barack Obama. I would also say this to Marcelas Owens. Well, your mom would have still died, because ObamaCare doesn't kick in until 2014, if they sign it this year.
SHUSTER: Let's bring in Marcelas Owens along with his grandmother Gina Owens. Marcelas, first of all, did anybody in the Democratic Party force you to tell this story? And are you only doing this story just because of your mom or because of other people who might face a similar situation?
GINA OWENS (To Marcelas): Go ahead. Go ahead.
MARCELAS OWENS: I'm fighting for everybody that might face situations like ours. And I don't want them to lose someone important to them.
SHUSTER: And, Marcelas, is anybody forcing you to do this?
MARCELAS OWENS: No. I asked to do this. .
SHUSTER: Gina, what was your reaction when you heard Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck targeting your grandson?
GINA OWENS: To be totally honest with you, Dave, my first reaction was that it didn't matter because it didn't matter to Marcelas. He just knows that he is fighting for something that he believes in and fighting for a cause that his mother believed in. So he's not really listening to the negative, and neither am I.
SHUSTER: That is such a powerful statement. And, Marcelas, there's so much negativity, sometimes on both sides in this debate. What is the message that you have for people when it comes to trying to talk to Congress or trying to explain to Congress your point of view?
MARCELAS OWENS: The message I try to get across is everybody deserves health care.
SHUSTER: And what's your view of what's happening now in Washington as we get to the final hours here and the final votes? What do you make of what's going on?
GINA OWENS (To Marcelas): What do you hope happens?
MARCELAS OWENS: Oh, well, um, I hope that health care gets passed. I mean, the health care bill, and at least the stories about people having health care, but then finding out they don't have it will stop. I hope.
SHUSTER: Gina, what does it say do you think about the level of our political discourse when- I think, whether people agree with health care reform or not I think at least most people I know admire when an 11-year-old boy like your grandson can get up and have the courage to put himself on the line to express his point of view. What does it say about our political discourse, in your view, when that gets attacked?
GINA OWENS: We're talking about an 11-year-old child, Dave, so my honest opinion is that when adults are stooping to that kind of low it's usually because they're pretty scared about what's going on. And, in this case, I think that there's a lot of fear because the health care bill is gaining momentum and it looks like it's going to pass, from my understanding. So, I think it's coming actually from fear of the other side, the opposers.
SHUSTER: Well, Gina Owens and Marcelas Owens, we appreciate you coming on, again, today, and best of luck to both of you. And, Marcelas, you're particularly courageous young man. And I think as I said the last time you were on, I don't know your mother, but I'm sure wherever she is she is so proud of you and what you're doing. And good luck to you.