"Are we on seven-second delay?"--Mark Halperin on Morning Joe, prefacing his criticism of Pres. Obama's performance at the health-care summit.
Halperin was surely being facetious, but the point about MSNBC's pro-Obama predilection was made.
The Time editor went on to rather comprehensively pan PBO's petulant performance. His comments were preceded by a clip of Pres. Obama rudely reminding Sen. John McCain of just who had won the presidential election.
“The President often seemed exasperated with Republican arguments,” CBS's Chip Reid empathetically conveyed in reporting on Thursday's health care policy summit before he declared that President Obama had achieved what he needed to accomplish:
Well, he really did, Katie. What he really wanted to do was convince the American people, and more importantly wavering Democrats in Congress, that the Republicans are the party of no. They won't compromise and he now has no choice but to move ahead with Democrats alone.
On ABC, anchor Diane Sawyer led with what she described as “a landmark event today, a televised political duel.” Echoing Reid's assessment of Obama's “exasperation,” Jake Tapper saw “from the Republicans, some old arguments and new frustrations for the President.” George Stephanopoulos decided Obama had “reinforced his bipartisan bonafides, showed that he was reaching out.”
Parting with Reid, however, Stephanopoulos considered it an “honorable draw” since “both sides...gained something” as “Republicans were able to show they had real substantive ideas, there are just differences about how to achieve health care reform in this country.”
There are always unintended consequences. And with the negotiations taking place at Blair House between the White House and members of Congress in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 25 - that's what appears to be occurring.
On Fox News Channel's Feb. 25 "America Live with Megyn Kelly," medical contributor Dr. Marc Siegel explained some of the myths surrounding the proposed political solutions for health care in the United States. He started with tort reform and explained the trial lawyers have their hands in how this tort reform is done.
"You know 37 states already have tort reform," Siegel said. "That's one of these political solutions that doesn't make any sense - the same as today's summit. The problem with tort isn't even the issue with caps. It's the issue of nuisance suits. Once a doctor has been to a lawyer's office and has their charts combed through, they feel raided. The way they practice medicine changes. They become more defensive. We got to get boards that cut down on nuisance suits. None of that is in the legislation. And if the American public is cynical it's because they know the trial lawyers association is preventing that."
Speculation was rampant that today's health care summit could be a trap for Republicans. In fact, Republicans performed as well as they could have, given the hostile circumstances. The best part: the national media was compelled to cover it all.
The concern for the GOP going in was that President Obama, with his supreme oratory skills, would back the GOP into a corner and get them to agree to legislation out of sheer political necessity. The national news media would, of course, be lying in wait, cameras rolling, anticipating a slip up to fill the evening broadcasts.
But none came; at least on the Republican side. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., one of the GOP's fastest-rising stars, laid out the free market health care argument for the nation to see. He told the president and the American people (video embedded below the fold with partial transcript),
Taking a break from ongoing coverage of today's Blair House health care summit around 3:15 p.m. EST today, Fox News Channel's Shep Smith scolded Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) and congressional Republicans for impeding passage of the Democratic health care agenda (video embedded at right; audio available here):
Why do Republicans want to throw this thing out and start over, senator? Why do they want to do that? Nobody buys that!
Can't we just say, "Look, we [sic] got to do something in this country. This is going to bankrupt us!" And you people up there who are supposed to be representing us are making it perfectly clear, you are going to sit in your corners with your own talking points and we're going to lose! We're going to get nothing. And it's clear we're not.
So when this is over, the president will be able to say, "I tried, we couldn't get anything done, here comes reconciliation." Fifty-one votes, and away we go. Then we got a real mess on our hands, and everybody is just mad at everybody else as the country falls apart. It just doesn't seem fair!
Republican leadership quickly condemned the plan, which relies heavily on the current Senate bill, as the same government takeover that had already been proposed. House GOP Leader John Boehner said the plan "crippled the credibility" of the upcoming summit.
In more than thirty stories the cable and network news media reacted by defending the White House against Boehner's claim by saying the plan was merely an "opening bid," consulting liberal politicians and outside groups like Brookings Institution, The Nation and Huffington Post, and by pushing Republicans to compromise and accept a bipartisan solution.
A night after ABC anchor Diane Sawyer demanded to know who will “keep insurance companies from jacking up premiums while making huge profits?”, on Wednesday night she again put ABC into service for the liberal spin machine the night before President Obama’s health summit, teasing: “Big insurance executives forced to answer why they're raising your premiums while raking in big profits.” World News devoted a full story to a hearing held by House Democrats to demonize WellPoint:
We turn to the growing outrage at insurance companies, the ones that raise premiums on ordinary Americans while racking up big profits. Today, executives of the company that insures the most Americans had to answer for big bonuses and lavish retreats while socking clients with a double-digit increase in fees.
ABC viewers were treated to demagogic Democrats railing against the salaries and profits of WellPoint. Then, as if it were a coincidence, Sawyer acknowledged “this anger erupts on the eve of President Obama's health care reform summit tomorrow.” (NBC also ran a story pegged to the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing, but sans the histrionics.)
Over on CBS, Katie Couric insisted Thursday would bring “that much-anticipated summit at the White House” to “try to save health care reform.” She began with “shades of the Paris peace talks,” ruing “Republicans have been arguing about the shape of the table and the seating arrangement.” Getting to the substance, Couric pleaded: “Does the President have any chance of reaching some kind of compromise with Republicans on health care reform?”
Appearing in the 3PM ET hour on MSNBC on Wednesday, Huffington Post writer Ryan Grim claimed that President Obama's latest version of health care reform was actually a conservative approach: "We actually already have a Republican bill, and it's the one that Obama has proposed....It's all about choice. Everything in it is a Republican kind of free market-based idea."
Speaking to anchor David Shuster, Grim continued his bizarre argument: "The idea that this is a Democratic bill, you know, that this is some left-wing plot, some government takeover that they're going to ram through the Senate, is the part that's the problem. This is a very centrist, leaning conservative health care reform bill."
The segment also featured Sally Pipes, author of "Top 10 Myths of American Health Care," who dismantled Grim's assertions: "I disagree with Ryan that this is a conservative blueprint that the President has put forward. It's very much not what the Republicans are talking about in terms of changing the tax code, portability, reducing mandates. What this is about is getting government more involved in our health care industry."
Update further down in bold recounting thatHouse Democratic Whip James Clyburn once described health care reform as being part of "rectifying effects of past discrimination," which Chris Matthews referred to as "reparations."
On Tuesday’s Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann picked up on an item from the far left Media Matters for America to charge that conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh is "putting on his sheet" and "dropping any remaining pretense that the opposition to health care reform is not flat-out racism." Inspired by a quote in which Limbaugh used the terms "civil rights" and "reparations" while discussing health care reform with a caller, Olbermann began the segment on Limbaugh by recounting what he viewed as "race-baiting" against President Obama. Olbermann:
There is no mystery as to why President Obama has been accused more than any other recent Democratic President of being socialist, fascist, communist, take your pick. The ugliest surviving strain and stain in American politics is still race-baiting. But it`s particularly offensive when it surfaces so very blatantly. Maybe it is better this way, though. Rush Limbaugh has declared that the President`s health care reform package is a civil rights bill and constitutes reparations.
While discussing the Democrats' latest version of health care reform on Monday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith asked GOP strategist Ed Rollins: "Are the Republicans better off just saying let the Democrats burn in hell with this, we're going to stay on the sidelines and win the House back this fall?"
The segment also featured disgraced ex-New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, who Smith earlier asked about an upcoming health care summit: "...this whole notion that the Republicans were saying 'well, we might not show up, now Mitch McConnell over the weekend, the minority head of the Senate, says 'we're going come, but we think the Democrats are arrogant.' Is this doomed from the get-go?" Spitzer proclaimed: "the Democratic Party and the President know they must get something done. The internal discipline within the Democratic Party will be what makes this a success."
Spitzer later argued: "The Republican Party's been the party of no, the party of nihilism. The President should stand up and say 'here's what's good for America. We have the votes, we're willing to do it.'" Smith followed that logic: "So is this then the real test for the President?...To say 'I have control of the people in my party, I can do this thing and it will benefit the American people.' And in the end, push back to everything that's been pushing up against him?" Spitzer replied: "This is the moment when either he says we are leaders, we will get it done, or if they fail this time, then it really is debacle for the Democratic Party."
In an exclusive interview with First Lady Michelle Obama on Monday's CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez fretted over the future of ObamaCare: "Deadlines keep getting missed for passing health care. Obstacles keep mounting....Unfortunately at the moment...health care is being held hostage by partisanship."
Rodriguez introduced the interview by proclaiming that the First Lady: "acknowledges the many hurdles to passing it [health care reform], but insists it will remain a top priority for the President." In her first question to Mrs. Obama, Rodriguez focused on the President's determination to get something passed: "Will your husband ever give up on trying to find a compromise?" After Obama replied that "we can't afford to give up," Rodriguez concluded: "You can't imagine a scenario where he would not finish the job on health care?" Obama declared: "My hope is that the country understands that we need to do this."
Ironically, Rodriguez later focused on political partisanship: "Democrats are losing a lot of legislators, either they're leaving or incumbents are losing. How do you stop the bleeding?...What do you think could help Democrats keep those crucial seats?"
As my colleague Tim Graham brought to my attention this morning, Newsweek is not content to let its advocacy for ObamaCare lie in the realm of biased writing. Nope, it appears the gang at Newsweek wants to help along President Obama by lampooning earnest Americans who expressed their displeasure last year at town hall meetings.
Why Newsweek chose now to roll out its photo gallery on "The Town Hall Face" now is anyone's guess, but I believe it's part of an effort by Newsweek to deride the skeptical American public as too deranged to understand how good ObamaCare will be for them.
Here's how the editors prefaced their 23-image slideshow, wherein most targets of derision were ObamaCare critics:
“I have nightmares sometimes you know. I’m gonna wake up and everyone’s gonna be driving Priuses…living in a condo…we’re all getting health insurance,” musician Kid Rock lamented during an interview with Fox News.
Kid Rock has been a constant presence overseas, offering his talent and support to lift U.S. troops in war.Always loath to discuss or pontificate upon politics publicly, the rock star sat down with Megyn Kelly Wednesday for a short segment on “America Live.”
Citing the recent CBS/New York Times Poll which shows that Americans want a smaller government with fewer services by a wide margin over big government, Kelly asked her guest: “When you’re out there, you’re talking to people, what are they saying to you? What is your reaction to all this government spending?”
Either Bill Maher was doing his best effort to impersonate Mel Brooks as King Louis XVI in "History in the World, Part I" or he has a complete and utter disregard for the intellectual competency of the American people.
Maher, a perennial bomb thrower with a hard left ideology appeared on CNN's Feb. 16 "Larry King Live," facing the king of softball interviews, Larry King, and let it be known he thought alleged terrorism plotter Khalid Sheikh Mohammed should be tried in New York City and that health care should be forced through by the Obama administration, despite the wishes of the American people.
And why should the American people's wishes be ignored? They're "not bright enough."
"But what the Democrats never understand is that Americans don't really care what position you take, just stick with one," Maher said. "Just be strong. They're not bright enough to really understand the issues. But like an animal, they can sort of sense strength or weakness. They can smell it on you."
Poor Barack Obama. Hasn't put a foot wrong. Policies just fine. It's just that he's been dealt the cruel fate of . . . being President of the United States.
That was the essence of what Jonathan Capehart, WaPo editorialist, whistled past the liberal graveyard on Morning Joe today. Confronted with the prez's crumbling poll numbers [by 52-44 margin people don't think PBO deserves to be re-elected], Capehart blamed anti-incumbent fever. It's not that Americans are opposed to the Dems' policies, suggested Capehart: they're just frustrated by how little has been accomplished.
Why don't we play a little game of political prognostication? Imagine that, far from being ineffective, Obama/Pelosi/Reid had managed to push through their entire agenda in the last year. Let's focus on three matters:
Always beware when a liberal journalist praises a conservative. It's almost always for when said conservative (or in this case neoconservative Bill Kristol) says or does something that is or can be spun to be helpful to liberal Democrats.
There's really little opportunity for the spirit of bipartisanship to exist when you have a part-time operative for the Obama administration/cable network political commentator throwing bombs about the GOP for not catering to the Obama administration's wishes on health care reform.
"Well, it is kind of preposterous," Begala said. "The Republicans bit is, ‘Well, we'll work on health care if you stop and end and scrap all the progress we've made over the course of a year.' Well no, actually. The health care bill already has 213 Republican-sponsored amendments - 213. And for that they got zero Republican votes. I guess they got one in the House, David [sic - Joseph] Cao."
It's always nice to see Hollywood pitch in and do its bit for the nation. In WWII, Tinsel Town mobilized to help defeat the Axis powers. Today, the heirs of that proud tradition are going all out against today's forces of evil - medical insurance companies.
At least, that's the impression fans of Fox's "House M.D." got from the show's Feb.8 episode. Detailing a hectic day in the life of Princeton Plainsboro Hospital Administrator Dr. Lisa Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein), three of the episode's four story lines involved insurance.
In one story line, a former patient was suing the hospital for reattaching his severed thumb. The surgeon who had done it explained that, "his insurance only covered 60 percent of his in-patient expenses," so the patient wanted only the least expensive option. The surgeon reattached it anyway. "I wasn't going to let him throw his thumb away over a few dollars." Owing the money for the procedure to the insurance company, the man protested to Cuddy that he was in danger of losing his house.
In another scene, Cuddy was consulting a patient with cancer was convinced that human breast milk was his only cure. When she refused to write him a prescription for it, he accused her of being "some type of shill for the insurance company." He had paid premiums all this life, he said, and never been sick a day, but was now being denied the only thing that would save him. Cuddy assured him her refusal had nothing to do with insurance, and the scene ended.
On Monday’s Morning Joe show on MSNBC, during a discussion of President Obama’s recent suggestions that he would be willing to talk with Republicans about health care reform, co-host Mika Brzezinski recounted Obama’s initial refusal to include the GOP, and claimed that Republicans "ARE the ones, you could argue, who wrecked the economy," which set off co-host Joe Scarborough. After Brzezinski claimed that "The last administration put us in the position that we are in," Scarborough denounced Democrats for pushing Republicans to support lending more money to people who could not pay back their mortgages.
He also brought up campaign contributions President Obama received from mortgage companies. Scarborough: "And, by the way, while I was being critical of the Republican party for allowing people to get mortgages they couldn't afford to repay, Democrats were calling Republicans racists. Barney Frank calling them racists for not giving even more mortgages they couldn't afford to pay. ... Barack Obama, the guy that got more money from Fannie and Freddie executives than anybody else on Capitol Hill doesn't exactly have clean hands here."
Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Monday, February 8, Morning Joe, on MSNBC, from about 8:09 a.m., with critical portions in bold:
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.