Les Blumenthal of the McClatchy News Service wrote up another story on 11-year-old Marcelas Owens advocating for the liberal cause of nationalizing health care. But this time, it was an attack on conservative talk show hosts.
The headline at the Tacoma News-Tribune: "Conservatives attack Seattle boy's 'sob story' of mom's death without insurance." The subhead merely repeated: "Health: conservatives lambaste account of death of mom without insurance." (The photo is also McClatchy's.)
Blumenthal went straight to the boy for more sympathy against Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Michelle Malkin, with no rebuttal from the conservatives. The reporter robotically went right down a Media Matters for America report, quote by quote, Rush, Glenn, and Michelle.
Marcelas Owens, whose mother got sick, lost her job, lost her health insurance and died, said Thursday he’s taking the swipes from Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Michelle Malkin in stride.
“My mother always taught me they can have their own opinion but that doesn’t mean they are right,” Owens said in an interview.
Owens’ grandmother, Gina, who watched her daughter die, isn’t quite so generous.
“These are adults, and he is an 11-year-old boy who lost his mother,” Gina Owens said. “They should be ashamed.”
The quotes Blumenthal cited from Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck sound harsh, but the reporter doesn't seem to understand that the child-victim story is meant to short-circuit debate and shut up conservatives, to win through intimidation instead of on the policy merits:
Here's more context of what Limbaugh said, objecting to the wild claims of Democrats that 45,000 people die every year because Republicans won't be intimidated into voting for a nationalized health system:
But Blumenthal was only using the official Media Matters reading of the quote. He continued:
Gina Owens said her daughter didn’t qualify for Medicaid. State officials said that without knowing the details, it was impossible to speculate on whether Tifanny Owens would have qualified.
Tifanny Owens might have been eligible for Washington state’s basic health care plan, which is aimed at the working poor. The plan has had a long waiting list for some time, said Sharon Michael of the Washington state Health Care Authority.
“Right now, we have 100,000 people on the wait list,” Michael said.
With that question completely unresolved -- and if these details are unresolved, is this "sob story" actually a completed, well-rounded news story instead of a loaded anecdote? -- Blumenthal turned back to whacking Limbaugh:
Limbaugh has gone after young people before. In 2007, he told listeners that Democrats were exploiting an 18-year-old Yup’ik Eskimo and that her congressional testimony on global warming made him want to “puke.”
Murray said she was appalled at how vicious the health care debate has become.
“The mom in me is getting really mad,” she said. “You don’t tear apart an 11-year-old because his mom died.”
Marcelas Owens said he’ll never know if his mother might have lived if she had health insurance.
“At least if she had it she would’ve had a fighting chance,” he said.
Or would she have a "fighting chance" to sit on a government waiting list? There's a difference between "universal coverage" and actual health treatment. Ask the Canadians, or the Europeans.
It might not be surprising, but Blumenthal was again relying on a Media Matters Limbaugh attack. Here's how Brian Maloney at Radio Equalizer brought out Rush's side of the story.
I called Blumenthal at the McClatchy D.C. bureau and asked him if he thought it might be unfair to interview one side, and merely use the transcripts on the other side. "No I don't think so at all. I presented them from their transcripts on national television." When I suggested this wasn't a real debate, he said it "could go on forever," interviewing one side and then the other.
The last report on Blumenthal and Marcelas Owens is here.