Over the weekend, poor and biased media reporting, dysfunctional politics, blindly ambitious activism, and economic ignorance fed on each other to produce a phenomenally false narrative that went out to hundreds of thousands if not millions of people. The result not only doesn't pass the smell test; it fails the stench test from a mile away.
The first origins of the activist narrative burst forth during Friday's PBS News Hour, when the network's Betty Ann Bowser opened her report on health care costs with two sentences that belong in the Sloppy Statement Hall of Shame (bold is mine):
Health care spending devoured 17 percent of the entire economy last year, about $2.5 trillion. That's the biggest one-year growth since record-keeping began in 1960, according to projections from the Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, this week.
If you don't mind my asking -- What exactly is the "that" to which Ms. Bowser referred?
It's the central question of the health care debate to liberty-loving Americans: Where in the Constitution does our charter of government grant the federal government the power to make us buy health care (or make us buy anything, for that matter)?
But to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, it's an illegitimate question. "Are you serious?!" she shot back at a CNSNews.com correspondent Matt Cover. Pelosi is not alone. Her friends in the liberal media also find the question ludicrous.
So Media Research Center video producer Bob Parks worked up a brief video that showcased how many in the liberal media see no constitutional problem with federal mandatory health care insurance.You can watch the video in the embed at right.
On Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith introduced a bizarre story designed to show how desperate the situation is for people lacking health insurance: “A California woman has launched a unique online search for a husband. Not for love, but for health care.”
Earlier, co-host Maggie Rodriguez teased the story by proclaiming: “I don’t know if you would think it’s sad or if you would think it’s admirable – but it’s definitely a position no one wants to be in. It’s an extreme to get health insurance.”
Correspondent Randall Pinkston later reported on the situation:
45-year-old Terri Carlson says she does not care what you look like, she will marry you, but only if you have good health insurance....She is divorced and has one year left under cobra health coverage, but after that, she will have nothing to help pay for numerous doctors’ appointments and dozens of medications....[she] suffers from a rare genetic disorder....And because of her disorder, insurance companies have denied her coverage.
CNBC "Squawk Box" co-hosts Joe Kernen and Becky Quick get it. Unfortunately, their CNBC colleague that covers Washington, D.C. for the network doesn't.
On the Jan. 22 broadcast, Harwood appeared on the program to give a status report on the current version of health care reform being negotiated in Congress and what it means in the aftermath of Scott Brown's filibuster-proof busting election victory in Massachusetts on Jan. 20. Kernen suggested that the health care bill might have been forced through if not Brown's election and the public fervor it revealed.
"I think it's unbelievable that it would have gone through and they would have definitely jammed it through if this weird, serendipitous seat hadn't opened up and if there hadn't been a special election, 17 percent of the economy - based on what they wanted to do, based on what these elected officials wanted to do, against what the public wants - they would have just rammed it through, either way," Kernen said.
Speaking to former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean on Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith repeated standard liberal talking points as he urged Republicans and Democrats to quickly pass some form of health care reform: “...to help the 40 some million that don’t have insurance or the vast majority of other folks who are one medical catastrophe away from bankruptcy.”
Dean replied by lamenting how: “The President’s tried awfully hard to get even one Republican to support this.” He added: “They believe if they obstruct this agenda that they can benefit from it and I think that’s wrong for the country, but the Republicans have always been great at opposition, never very good at leadership.”
During the 2008 presidential campaign, Americans were treated to a number of populist sermons on the "special interests" who would oppose "reform" at any cost to maintain the "status quo" from which they "profit financially or politically." The drug companies, the energy companies, the Wall Street bankers, and the health insurers were the corporate enemies of a just and harmonious America, or so one might have gathered.
Obama was at the vanguard of this populist charge. But since his election, he has proposed health care legislation that would subsidize Pfizer and PhRMA, a cap and trade plan that would drive profits to General Electric, and Wall Street bailouts that lined the pockets of the same Goldman Sachs bankers he so reviled during the campaign. What happened?
Washington Examiner columnist Tim Carney exposes and investigates this monumental disconnect in his new book "Obamanomics: How Barack Obama is Bankrupting You and Enriching His Wall Street Friends, Corporate Lobbyists, and Union Bosses." Carney explores the "political strategy of partnering with the biggest businesses in order to create new regulations, taxes, and subsidies." Those measures, he argues, actually benefit the biggest businesses by crowding out competition, consolidating market share, or giving billions in subsidies directly to those companies.
CNN’s Carol Costello reminisced enthusiastically about President Obama’s inauguration a year ago on Tuesday’s American Morning, highlighting how, at the time, “the hearts of millions of Americans were ready to burst- with a Woodstock kind of love.” Costello also took a shot at Republicans, stating that they “used the President’s strategy [on health care] to create fear and confusion among voters.” [audio available here]
Anchor Kiran Chetry set the gushing tone for the correspondent’s report, which aired at the bottom of the 6 am Eastern hour: “It was a year ago that love was in the air. America seemed to come together behind the nation’s first African-American president.” Costello lead the segment with footage of the enthusiastic crowd at the inauguration and her reporting inside the crowd, accented with a graphic of President Obama’s head inside a beating Valentine’s heart and Cupid’s arrow: “Inauguration Day, January 20th, 2009....The hearts of millions of Americans were ready to burst- (unidentified women singing) with a Woodstock kind of love.”
The day after the Inauguration, during a January 21, 2009 report on CNN, Costello dubbed the festivity “a gigantic love fest,” and gave an enthusiastic account about her time with the masses on the National Mall: “Suddenly, someone would just come up and hug you. It was just amazing. It was -- it was like you were standing in the middle of these strangers, and all of a sudden, you had a million friends around you. That’s what it felt like yesterday.”
Teasing coverage on tomorrow's Massachusetts special election to fill its vacant Senate seat, MSNBC's David Shuster avoided any pretense of objectivity as he opened the 10 a.m. EST hour of the network's news coverage with the question: "Has Democratic-leaning Massachusetts lost its mind?!"
Although he ratcheted down the bias a few notches later in the hour when he actually reported on the polling trends showing Republican candidate Scott Brown having a decent shot at upsetting Democratic candidate Martha Coakley tomorrow, Shuster's opening teaser speaks volumes about MSNBC's penchant for rooting for the Democrats.
On Sunday’s Today show on NBC – during which correspondent Savannah Guthrie filed a report which seemed to credit President Obama for "managing to avoid a depression," while also acknowledging that "the President's once sky-high approval rating slumped as unemployment stubbornly stayed in double digits" – after Guthrie’s report, anchor Jenna Wolfe wondered if Republicans were partly to blame for Obama’s plunging poll numbers.
Hosting former Bush Chief of Staff Andy Card and former Clinton White House Spokesperson Joe Lockhart, Wolfe at one point asked Card: "Andy, you mentioned earlier about the President's popularity. Yes, it's down. Recent polls show his approval rating at 47 percent. Yes, the economy accounts for much of that drop. How much of it can be linked to unified opposition from Republicans for initiatives like health care?"
Below is a transcript of Savannah Guthrie’s report, followed by the interview with Andy Card and Joe Lockhart from the Sunday, January 17, Today show on NBC:
On Saturday’s Today show on NBC, anchor Amy Robach brought aboard MSNBC’s Joe Scarbarough to talk about President Obama’s handling of the relief effort in Haiti, and the President’s efforts to prevent Republican takeover of the Massachusetts Senate seat formerly held by Ted Kennedy. Robach introduced the segment referring to the possibility of a Democratic loss of the seat from Obama’s point-of-view of being a "potential political crisis here at home."
After Scarborough answered her first question about relief aid in Haiti -- at one point complaining about "carping from the far right" -- Robach segued from the Haiti earthquake by referring to the Senate race as a "potential crisis looming here at home" which could result from a "historic upset" in Massachusetts. Robach:
On Friday's The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly interviewed singer Ray Stevens about a musical parody titled "We the People," posted on his Web site at RayStevens.com, in which he goes after ObamaCare. Stevens, famous for doing musical parodies since the 1960s -- though previously never political in nature -- on Friday's show joked that he is "right of Attila the Hun" politically.
Below is a transcript of portions of the interview from the Friday, January 15, The O'Reilly Factor on FNC:
Lamenting how Nancy Pelosi's archbishop has "slap[ped] her down," in an online statement addressing the House Speaker's excuse-making for her pro-abortion record, Newsweek's Eleanor Clift used a January 15 Gaggle blog post to praise Pelosi, no stranger to pastoral rebuke, as both a good pro-choice Democrat and a good Catholic:
It's anybody's guess whether in the new world of Internet media the archbishop's online commentary rebuking Pelosi falls under his pastoral duties, or public advocacy. Either way, Pelosi remains unshaken in her views, and in her Catholic faith.
"Free will cannot be cited as justification for society to allow moral choices that strike at the most fundamental rights of others. Such a choice is abortion, which constitutes the taking of innocent human life, and cannot be justified by any Catholic notion of freedom."
Yet Clift left out another key excerpt from Neiderauer's "archbishop's journal" column (emphasis mine):
Alec Baldwin, award winning actor and wannabe leftist political commentator, called on Congress to sink congressional health care legislation today, saying he would rather the federal government "Put a Major Oil Company Out of Business," according to the headline of his column at the Huffington Post.
Baldwin isn't the only liberal entertainer calling for the death of ObamaCare. Plans to tax so-called "Cadillac" health care plans--or the most expensive insurance plans--have riled up some key Democratic supporters. The Teamsters Union and the AFL-CIO have protested, but now objections are also being raised by Hollywood's biggest unions.
The Los Angeles Times reported yesterday that the "generally cozy relationship between Hollywood's unions and the Obama administration is coming under strain." The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists recently sent a letter to President Obama and congressional leaders pleading with them to drop the Cadillac tax. According to the Times, the Screen Actors Guild, the largest union of actors, is expected to take a similar stance on the legislation.
Update - 9:25 AM | Lachlan Markay:David Gergen commented on Brown's response. His comments below.
The death of Ted Kennedy hit the liberal media particularly hard. NBC's Andrea Mitchell caught the mood of the nation's pundits when she said the "heavens were weeping" during Kennedy's funeral. Now that Kennedy is dead, some pundits feel as if Democrats are entitled to the seat he left vacant.
CNN senior political analyst David Gergen had to be reminded of this fact Monday as he moderated a debate between the two candidates for Massachusetts's open Senate seat. He asked Republican candidate Scott Brown whether he'd be willing to "sit in Teddy Kennedy's seat and [say] I'm going to be the person who's going to block it [liberal health care policy] for another 15 years."
But Brown, refusing to take for granted Gergen's blatantly left-wing premises, responded instead: "Well, with all due respect it's not the Kennedys' seat, and it's not the Democrats' seat, it's the people's seat." (video and transcript below the fold - h/t Kerry Picket)
On Thursday, the Congressional Budget Office issued its Monthly Budget Review for December 2009. It estimates that December's federal deficit will be $92 billion when the Treasury Department releases its Monthly Treasury Statement on Wednesday, and that the deficit for the first fiscal quarter will be "about $390 billion." The CBO director's related blog post is here. The establishment press has virtually ignored it.
Here is the initial result of a Google News search on "CBO deficit" (not in quotes) for articles relating to the Congressional Budget Office's Thursday estimate of the federal government's deficit for the first quarter of its fiscal year:
Clicking on the "all 10 new articles" reveals that there are really only four results, that three of them are at blogs, and that only one of the blog posts is from an establishment media site:
In a Friday news analysis piece that appeared in the paper's print edition today (teased at its web site as seen on the right), Jackie Calmes at the New York Times began with a pathetic headline, and opened with pity on our poor overwhelmed, stressed-out, stretched-in-all-directions President:
Obama Tries to Turn Focus to Jobs, if Other Events Allow
President Obama keeps trying to turn attention to “jobs, jobs, jobs,” as his chief of staff has put it. But he is finding that it can be hard to focus on any one issue when so many demand attention, often unexpectedly.
This is simply another variation on the "distracted" President theme I noted last year (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog). You know, if those terrorists and other messy realities wouldn't intervene, Barack Obama could do his job sooooo much better.
Calmes resumed the pity party in her seventh paragraph:
Washington Post reporter Dan Eggen scored a front page hit on...wait for it...conservative advocacy groups that oppose Obamacare. (See Funding for Health-Care Interest Groups Often Fuzzy.) Eggen is scandalized that (big) business interests want to fund groups that oppose President Obama's plans to socialize insurance in the U.S. Eggen singles out a handful of non-leftists groups and complains about "opaque financing" and "hidden support from insurers, drugmakers [and] unions."
The second part of Eggen's report similarly blasts left-of-center groups that take corporate money to support Obamacare. Yeah, right. Actually, Eggen expends just one paragraph mentioning that liberal groups might be "beholden to labor unions and liberal foundations with deep pockets." No serious discussion of the fact that industry lobbyists have been a huge backer of Obamacare - or, specific provisions thereof. (See, for example, DC Examiner author and columnist Timothy P. Carney's article this week on PhRMA's influence within the Obama administration and, last week, on another major trade association, America's Health Insurance Plans.)
Isn't it curious that Eggen omits entirely any examination of what corporate interests fund left-wing groups?
Speaking to Virginia Governor Democratic Party Chairman Tim Kaine on Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez pointed out a potential dire situation for Democrats in the 2010 midterm election: “Your party stands to lose a lot in the fall. Its 60 vote majority in the Senate, dozens of seats in the House, as well as Governor seats across the country.”
An on-screen headline posed the question: “Democrats in Trouble?” Rodriguez summed up the circumstances under which Democrats could do well in the fall: “...two things have to happen. One, the economy has to improve, and, two, health care has to not only pass, but show that it’s working.” She assumed that health care passing would be a good thing for Democrats and failed to ask Kaine about the lack of openness in the legislative process.
Rodriguez asked for Kaine’s assessment of the situation. Unsurprisingly, the DNC chair was optimistic about his party’s chances: “I think both are going to happen....I think the passage of historic health care and continued improvement of the economy is going to actually surprise some people in November in terms of how Democrats do.”
On the second day of a new feature on Keith Olbermann’s Countdown show, called "Quick Comments," the MSNBC host turned his attention to Neal Boortz -- whom he called a "hate radio host" and referred to as being "dehumanized" -- and others who oppose the implementation of ObamaCare, accusing them of "killing 45,000 people every year," and suggesting that those who seek to block universal health care are as bad as terrorists. As Olbermann cited a dubious study which claimed that 45,000 people die in America each year because they lack health insurance, the Countdown host charged:
What would you do, sir, if terrorists were killing 45,000 people every year in this country? Well, the current health care system, the insurance companies, and those who support them are doing just that. ... Those fighting health care reform – not those debating its shape or its nuance – people who demand the status quo, they are killing 45,000 Americans a year.
Olbermann concluded by comparing ObamaCare opponents to terrorists: "Because they die individually of disease and not disaster, Neil Boortz and those who ape him in office and out, approve their deaths, all 45,000 of them – a year – in America. Remind me again, who are the terrorists?"
"Now that the process moves to the critical stage of reconciliation between the Chambers, we respectfully request that you allow full public access, through television, to [health care] legislation that will affect the lives of every single American."
Thus wrote C-SPAN CEO Brian Lamb in a December 30, 2009 open letter to congressional leaders, calling for them to "open all important negotiations, including any conference committee meetings, to electronic media coverage."
Today, NewsBusters Publisher and Media Research Center President Brent Bozell issued a statement of commendation to praise C-SPAN and Lamb for publicly urging the Democratic leadership to live up to the President's campaign rhetoric about transparency in government and praised C-SPAN:
On Saturday’s CBS Evening News, anchor Jeff Glor teased an upcoming story on Switzerland’s health care system by wondering: "Could Switzerland’s health care be a model for America?" He later introduced the segment by claiming that the Swiss system could be "a glimpse of what the U.S. health care system of the future might look like."
Correspondent Richard Roth touted the Swiss "love of capitalism," but then went on to praise their socialized health care system: "The law, finally approved in a 1994 national referendum, guaranteed health care for everyone by requiring everyone to have insurance....They choose their own doctors and their own insurance company, and the whole country is covered....Switzerland devised a health care system that’s been praised as efficient and neutral. Basic insurance is the same price for everyone."
Roth did manage to find one flaw: "...it’s turned out to be expensive....No one goes broke from getting sick, but health care’s cost to the economy here is higher than anywhere except the U.S." However, as he talked to the Swiss director of the Federal Office of Public Health, Thomas Zeltner, Roth described the problem this way: "What you built here was a Rolex, and really, perhaps, you should have made a Timex." Zeltner replied: "It is a Rolex. You’re right. It should not just look like a Rolex, but also work like a Rolex." Roth concluded: "It does, and the Swiss love it..."
If there was ever a textbook example of kissing up to a host in a television interview, Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., gave a demonstration on MSNBC's "The Ed Show."
During the Dec. 28 broadcast, Moran, who represents a district that is just a stone's throw away from the U.S. Capitol, encouraged "The Ed Show" host Ed Schultz to keep pushing for the public option as part of health care reform, even though it is losing support as being essential in the U.S. House of Representatives.
"You've got to keep up the pressure, Ed," Moran said. "You know, they pay much more attention to what's said on MSNBC, particularly shows like yours than Fox or something like that. You know that."
The Associated Press should seriously consider renaming itself "Associated Dems" or "Associated Leftists."
This morning, the AP's Charles Babington uncritically relays the latest Democratic Party talking point about its statist health care plan that has been passed in two very different forms in the House and Senate. The supposed point is that anyone who voted to create Medicare Part D in 2003 and voted against ObamaCare is "obviously" a flaming hypocrite.
Along the way, Babington ignores a Congressional Budget Office report response issued just before Christmas asserting that characterizations of the Senate's bill as reducing future government deficits are wrong. Beyond that, the litany of other distortions and errors in Babington's report is perversely impressive in its no-fib-or-spin-left-behind comprehensiveness.
Here are the first several paragraphs of Babington's babble, followed by its final sentence:
GOP lawmakers change tune on costly health plans
Democrats are troubled by the inconsistency of Republican lawmakers who approved a major Medicare expansion six years ago that has added tens of billions of dollars to federal deficits, but oppose current health overhaul plans.
Catching up on the Sunday, December 20, syndicated Chris Matthews Show – during which the panel weighed in on who should be granted various dishonors for the year – panel member Howard Fineman of Newsweek charged that independent Senator Joe Lieberman, formerly a Democrat, had "kicked [Democrats] n the teeth time after time after time and behaved in a completely self-righteous way about it," as the panel discussed Lieberman’s insistence on making Senate Democrats negotiate on universal health insurance. After host Chris Matthews introduced the show’s "Chutzpah Prize" for the year – with nominees being Republican Congressman Joe Wilson, former Vice President Dick Cheney, former Bristol Palin boyfriend Levi Johnston, and Senator Joe Lieberman – Fineman voiced his belief that Lieberman deserves attention. Fineman:
On Thursday’s CBS Evening News, correspondent John Blackstone gave attention to the danger for small businesses if the final version of health care reform requires employers to provide health insurance for their employees as he highlighted two business owners – one who fears health care reform could close down his night club business while the other is more optimistic about how her business would be affected. Substitute anchor Jeff Glor set up the report: "As we mentioned earlier, the health care bill passed by the Senate today would extend coverage to 30 million Americans. A key element is a mandate forcing many companies to pay for their workers' insurance or pay a fine – a very difficult choice for struggling small business owners."
Blackstone related that "the prescription for change includes some bitter medicine, mandates requiring companies to pay for health insurance or pay a fine." While Blackstone at one point argued that small business owners are likely to benefit "from insurance exchanges in the reform plans which should hold down premiums in many cases by helping small businesses join together for greater buying power," the CBS correspondent also gave substantial attention to nightclub owner Jay Siegan’s fears that " the music will go silent if he's required to provide insurance."
On Thursday's World News, ABC anchor Diane Sawyer took the time to devote an entire story to 92-year-old Democratic Senator Robert Byrd’s vote for the Democratic health care bill, which the West Virginia Democrat dedicated to former Senator Ted Kennedy, whom the ABC anchor described as "health care champion Ted Kennedy." Sawyer recounted that Byrd had to be brought into the Senate chamber in a wheel chair several times recently to cast votes related to the bill.
Sawyer informed viewers of Byrd’s long Congressional career and 98 percent attendance record, and then quoted his declaration that "I do what duty tells me to do" as he arrived to vote for the bill. After recounting the Democratic Senator’s emotional reaction and declaration of love for Senator Kennedy when he learned of Kennedy’s illness, Sawyer concluded: "Old comrades, old friends – one gone, one carrying on."