When it comes to insulting people opposed to ObamaCare, you might say Ed Schultz has plumbed new depths . . .
On his MSNBC show this evening, Schultz branded people turning up at town halls as "dumber than Joe the Plumber." For good measure, he added a variation on the Washington Post's old canard about certain conservatives being "poor, undereducated, and easy to command."
Who says a little engineering mixed in with your journalism is a bad thing? At least one MSNBC host and Washington Post reporter said it's a journalist's job to focus on "real issues" in the hotly debated issue of health care reform.
This was the topic of discussion in a panel featuring John Rother, executive vice president of Policy and Strategy for AARP, Ceci Connolly of The Washington Post, Tim Phillips of Americans for Prosperity and host Dr. Nancy Snyderman during MSNBC's "Dr. Nancy" Aug. 10.
Rother argued there has been far too much hyperbole on the issue, which he insisted was meant to mislead the public.
On Friday's Glenn Beck Program, FNC aired a pre-recorded interview between host Beck and a British member of the European Parliament, Daniel Hannan, who warned against the dangers of instituting a national health system in America because of the problems Britons must endure from their country's government-run monopoly, the National Health Service. During an interview in which he recounted the long waits, the inability to go outside the system for faster treatment, and the system's discrimination against elderly patients, Hannan summed up his amazement that Americans would consider such a system:
I find it incredible that a free people living in a country dedicated and founded in the cause of independence and freedom can seriously be thinking about adopting such a system in peacetime and massively expanding the role of the state when there's no need.
He also warned that once such a massive bureaucracy and voting bloc of government workers becomes entrenched, such a system would likely be impossible to get rid of:
On Friday's Glenn Beck Program on FNC, substitute host Eric Bolling interviewed the now-famous "angry Democrat," Don Jeror, who confronted House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer at a recent public event as he challenged the Democratic push for universal health insurance. At the event, Jeror famously contended that while President Obama took six months to choose a dog for his family, Congress is "trying to stuff the health care bill down our throat in three to four weeks."
During his interview on FNC, Jeror summarized the potential risks to the elderly posed by the institution of public health insurance, and proclaimed that America has "the best health care in the world."
This summer, the Rockwellian ideal of neighbors gathering to discuss community issues in a neighborly way is gone, replaced by quarrelsome masses hollering questions downloaded from activist websites, as video cameras record every word of the squirming lawmaker's response. Many seem to be following advice laid out in a memo circulating on the Internet advising activists to “watch for an opportunity to yell out” early in the presentation and “have someone else follow up with a shout-out.”
Wangsness soon bemoaned the impact -- “Political specialists say, endlessly looping images of these confrontations on cable TV could hurt the case for the healthcare overhaul” -- before she set out to prove, as if it were something nefarious, how “conservative activist groups are deeply involved.”
On Thursday's The O'Reilly Factor, FNC host Bill O'Reilly hosted a discussion with FNC analyst and former CBS News correspondent Bernard Goldberg, as the two pointed out the mainstream media's double standard in "obsessing" over how protesters who have been challenging ObamaCare were organized, but have shown no interest in the organization of protesters by left-wing groups. After O'Reilly's "Talking Points Memo" addressed the subject, Goldberg observed:
The word "hypocrisy" in your "Talking Points" is the key word. Civil rights demonstrations, anti-war demonstrations, pro-abortion rights demonstrations, environmental demonstrations, I don't remember the media obsessing about who got these people out to the demonstration site, who orchestrated the demonstration, who manufactured, to use another of their words, the anger at the demonstrations. ... But the media only feels an obligation to look behind the curtain at the forces that are orchestrating and manufacturing the demonstrations when it's a conservative demonstration.
Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Thursday, August 6, The O'Reilly Factor on FNC:
Franken, who departed CNN in 2006 and now shows up occasionally as an analyst on MSNBC, continued: “What do you call the partisan groups that whip up their fear-of-change ultra-conservative base to engage in that symbolic lynching and then disavow any responsibility? You have a choice here between 'deniers' and a word that rhymes with it.” I guess that would be “liars.”
The ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts in near-unison on Friday night disparaged the anti-ObamaCare protests at town meetings held by Members of Congress as “unruly,” “nasty” and “getting ugly,” while CBS and NBC targeted Rush Limbaugh -- NBC's Kelly O'Donnell charged “some anger...gets stoked by the provocative megaphone of Rush Limbaugh, who went so far as accusing Democrats of wanting the socialized medicine of Nazi Germany” -- without bothering to acknowledge Limbaugh was reacting to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who first put Nazi comparisons into play by accusing the opponents of “carrying swastikas and symbols like that to a town meeting on health care.”
Following O'Donnell, NBC's Chuck Todd checked in from a parallel universe at the White House where, except for the pesky health care opponents, Obama's staff achieved great things during the week:
They look back at this week, and they see that they've rescued two Americans from North Korea, that they broke a barrier at the Supreme Court with the confirmation of soon-to-be Justice Sonia Sotomayor, that a major terrorist was killed in, of the Taliban, a figure that is believed, that is somebody that might be able to break up the Taliban in such a way, that the cash for clunkers turned out to be a success, those good unemployment news. So they sit here and say, hey, it's pretty good, but then this health care debate and this town halls that Kelly was reporting on....
ABC anchor Charles Gibson saw “a pattern of disruption -- opponents of change shouting at members of Congress so loud that at times police are called in.” He then pointed to the Obama administration as an authority on civility, highlighting how “White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said today: 'We can discuss these issues without being uncivilized. It's the same thing I tell my six-year-old.'”
What follows is not meant in any way to make light of a literally life-and-death issue. It is instead meant to perhaps (we can always hope) drill a little truth into the thick heads of the establishment media's alleged "journalists" who continue to refuse to see what's right in front of them in ObamaCare (or in many cases to even read the legislation in the first place).
You see, abortion coverage in ObamaCare is analogous to the pasta afficionado's expected set of ingredients in Prego Spaghetti Sauce, as presented in this popular 1984 commercial -- that is, "It's in there."
On Sunday, in an alleged "Fact Check" piece on ObamaCare, the Associated Press tried to pretend abortion coverage isn't in there. Two days later, prodded by Steven Ertelt at LifeNews.com and others in the pro-life community, the wire service specifically backtracked and admitted that yes, it's in there ("Gov't insurance would allow coverage for abortion").
Now it's Stephanie Condon of CBS who is pretending that abortion coverage is not in there in ObamaCare. LifeNews.com and pro-lifers are once again out there pushing back, while deliciously reminding the network of a 2004 story that wasn't all there -- or was only there in the vivid, anchor-ending imagination of Dan Rather (link to CBS story within excerpt added by me; bold is mine):
Are you opposed to ObamaCare? Willing to attend a town hall to express your disapproval? Odds are good you're a racist. Just ask Cynthia Tucker . . .
As Clay Waters has noted, Paul Krugman alleges that racist motives are at the heart of the town hall protests against ObamaCare. On this evening's Hardball, Cynthia Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution was willing to get specific, estimating that "45 to 65%" of the protesters are motivated by racism.
About the only thing you can conclude about the Agence France-Presse wire service's August 4 "news" item about a health care poll result ("Majority back Obama on health care reform: poll") is that they couldn't find anything more recent than three weeks old to provide the result they were looking for. So AFP went back to a poll done between July 9-13 -- an online one no less. As NewsBusters colleague Noel Sheppard would say, "I kid you not."
The House Democrats' 1,018-page health-care plan wasn't even released until late in the day on Tuesday, July 14. To say that AFP's report and the related poll results are worse than worthless to any current discussions is almost to praise them too much.
Here is a mini-pic of the first several paragraphs presented for fair use, discussion, and repudiation purposes:
At the top of the 4:00PM ET hour on MSNBC Friday, fill-in co-anchor Monica Novotny issued a dire warning about protests at health care town hall meetings: "The town hall confrontations are turning violent....Where is all of this heading? New fears for the safety of America’s first African-American president." [Audio/video (0:33): Mp3 | WMV]
In a later segment, co-anchor David Shuster interviewed Virginia Democratic Congressman Jim Moran and asked: "We know that threats to President Obama are up by like something 400% compared to the Bush administration. Is this putting our president in some sort of danger because of some wacko that will see this stuff and say, ‘oh, yes, it’s fascism and the way we dealt with Adolf Hitler was to try to kill him, so therefore, let’s do this with our president.’"
Congressman Moran responded to that outrageous scenario by remarking: "Well, you know, it only took – takes one person. It took one person to shoot Ronald Reagan, Jack Kennedy, and so on. But I think the Secret Service can be trusted to protect the President. But it does discredit those people who are using such extreme measures to achieve an objective which is really corporate profit."
Kudos to Steve Ertelt at LifeNews.com (the source of the graphic at the right) and to others in the pro-life community for getting the notoriously stubborn Associated Press to effectively back down on a false claim it made about the availability of abortion services in the version of the health care bill passed by a House Committee last week.
The Associated Press is coming under criticism from pro-life advocates who say its recent wrap-up article on the health care debate is misleading.
AP writer Charles Babington wrote a "fact check" story attempting to make the case that abortion is not included in the health care bills and that President Barack Obama doesn't want it to be included.
But Douglas Johnson, the legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee, says that's not the case.
So Democrats don’t like all those ads for prescription drugs on T.V. – the ones for high cholesterol, enlarged prostates, dry eyes and, yes, ED. On C-Span recently, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D., Calif., said “a lot of people start thinking they have medical problems because they’ve seen too many of these commercials. I don’t think that’s doing the public a lot of good. It’s certainly making the drug companies richer, but it’s not doing a lot of good for the public.”
That statement tells us an awful lot about Waxman, President Obama and the other liberals currently trying to cram socialized health care down the throats of a reluctant citizenry.
Waxman assumes that there is something inherently wrong with citizens knowing that these drugs exist. Waxman is a statist ideologue, so perhaps he really believes information should be rationed (he certainly believes health care should be rationed). Maybe what bothers him in this case is that the state has not yet managed to insert itself into this transaction. A drug company speaking directly to a consumer smacks too much of liberty.
The congressman must have a low opinion of the medical profession, to imply that consumers need only ask their doctors for prescriptions and they’ll get them. Physicians pay massive malpractice insurance premiums and the Democrats refuse to cap malpractice tort awards. So in violation of the universal law of CYA, doctors can’t be trusted to give cursory exams to verify the presence of the maladies in question.
ABC framed its Tuesday night story, on citizens using town hall forums held by Members of Congress to express opposition to ObamaCare, around undermining their credibility by asserting the reaction “appears to be orchestrated” and “organized” and thus is forcing the victimized “White House to push back” by “fighting Internet fire with fire.”
After anchor Charles Gibson insisted “some of that criticism appears to be orchestrated, causing the White House to push back,” reporter Jake Tapper showed some instances of “people protesting health care reform with visceral anger” and relayed how “Texas Democrat Lloyd Doggett, who was shouted down before he could even speak, says there's nothing authentic about these protests.” Doggett charged: “This notion of a grassroots campaign is totally and completely phony. The Republican Party has coordinated this apparent outrage and stirred it up.” Tapper corroborated: “Clearly, some of it is organized.” He cited how “Bob MacGuffie, a grass roots conservative activist wrote a widely circulated memo advising others at town hall meetings to put the Congressman quote, 'on the defensive with your questions and follow up.'”
On Monday's Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann delivered a "Special Comment" lambasting members of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of centrist House Democrats because most of the group's members have pressured more liberal congressional Democrats compromise in their push for public health insurance. After reciting campaign contributions received by some Blue Dog members from the health care industry, he suggested that these Democrats should just be called "dogs." Olbermann: "I could call them all out by name, but I think you get the point. We do not need to call the Democrats holding this up Blue Dogs. That one word 'dogs' is perfectly sufficient."
The MSNBC host also shamelessly tried to use Senator Ted Kennedy's illness to suggeset that Democratic Senator Blanche Lincoln, a centrist Democrat from Arkansas, should feel guilty about her role in forcing more liberal Democrats to compromise. Olbermann: "Senator Lincoln, by the way, considering how you're obstructing health care reform, how do you feel every time you actually see Senator Kennedy?"
Monday's CBS Evening News, unlike the ABC and NBC evening newscasts, found time for a story on protesters, against liberal Democratic health plans, who confronted members of Congress at forums over the weekend, though reporter Wyatt Andrews felt the need to insert “scare” quotes as he referred to “demonstrators against what they called 'government-run health care'” and “what they call 'Obama-care.'”
Anchor Katie Couric set up the story: “The debate over health care reform is not limited to the halls of Congress. Voices are being heard all over the country -- voices of protest. And they're growing louder.” Andrews showed how “angry protestors in Philadelphia shouted down both the HHS Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, and Senator Arlen Specter” before he asserted “the crowds are partly the result of conservative Web sites asking for turnout at town halls.” Andrews, however, acknowledged “the turnouts also reflect real fear over the increased taxes and government controls that are part of the health bills being considered in Congress.”
Andrews concluded with the Democrats' plight: “Avoiding this kind of uproar is partly why Democrats wanted to pass health reform before the August recess. Democrats are now out there without a final bill to defend, but facing opponents trying to kill what they call 'Obama-care' with a show of August heat.”
See if you think these two assertions mean the same thing:
Small businesses pay up to 18 percent more per worker than large firms for the same health insurance policy.
.... small businesses pay up to 18 percent more per worker to provide health insurance for their employees.
Of course they don't mean the same thing. But to the Associated Press's Tom Raum, they apparently do.
The first statement comes from the Executive Summary of a study produced by the President's Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) called "The Economic Effects of Health Care Reform on Small Businesses and Their Employees" that the administration is using to promote passage of its health care plan. Based on dated information in the detailed CEA studay, the statement appears to be true, though with overly clever "up to" wording.
The second statement unfortunately exemplifies how the AP's Raum wrote up the CEA result in his story. This means that his write-up has several items that are demonstrably false.
Here are the story's first few paragraphs, with incorrect assertions noted in red:
On Friday’s 20/20 on ABC, co-anchor John Stossel exposed the flaws in the Canadian and British government-run health care systems, and even showed viewers a clip of President Obama as he once expressed a belief that single-payer health care would be an acceptable system, even while taking the position that he would not pursue it, during one of the Democratic party presidential debates in 2008. During the January 21, 2008, debate on CNN, Obama said:
It's fine for us to have a debate about how the best way to get there is, but to suggest somehow that I'm not interested in having everybody covered, or to suggest, as Hillary just did, that I was in favor of single payer, I never said that we should try to go ahead and get single payer. What I said was that if I were starting from scratch, if we didn't have a system in which employers had typically provided health care, I would probably go with a single-payer system.
During the six-minute, 20-second segment -- which can be seen here -- Stossel informed viewers of the long waits patients must endure in countries with government-run health systems – like Canada and Britain. He recounted that some patients – including world leaders and wealthy celebrities – come to America for treatment of serious conditions, and relayed the case of one Canadian woman who came to America to treat a clogged artery whose American doctor told her she would not have survived waiting a few more weeks for Canada's government health care. Additionally, Stossel found that even patients waiting in emergency rooms in Canada have to wait an average of 23 hours for service.
Invoking the word "crisis" might conjure up images of a Category 5 hurricane bearing down on the U.S. Gulf Coast or some other situation where decisive action much be taken to avert impending doom. But, is it appropriate to suddenly attach it to the key issue put forth by Obama administration, such as health care?
On July 30, CNBC dedicated its three-hour morning show "Squawk Box" to the issue and labeled the special coverage: "America's Healthcare Crisis." CNBC used the word "crisis" despite polls (including a July 30 Time article) that found 80 percent of the respondents satisfied with their health care.
The poor, benighted little people. They just don't understand what a wonderful hopey-changey world Pres. Obama is offering them . . .
Andrea Mitchell has suggested that the problem Pres. Obama is facing in selling his health care plan to Americans who already have coverage is that people "may not know what's good for them." [H/t reader Restless 1]
Mitchell made her condescending comment on today's Morning Joe.
CNN's Jim Acosta devoted a three-minute segment to the Scheiner's left-wing criticism of the president's health care plan, but excluded any other voices, even after the doctor took a shot at the insurance industry.
"Chicago doctor David Scheiner has taken a hard look at Obama's prescription for health care reform and sees bad medicine," Acosta said before explaining why the doctor is "so special."
In fact, Scheiner was Obama's personal doctor for 22 years, but he blasted the president's plan for not going "far enough." Scheiner advocated a single-payer system like in Canada and Europe.
"If I had to say the single one thing that's the worst part of it is that private insurance companies continue to be a part of the health scheme. Everybody keeps saying we don't want the government getting involved in health care - the government is involved in health care and Medicare and it works!" Scheiner said.
In a balanced report, Scheiner's attack on private insurers would have been a followed by a statement or representative from the insurance industry. Acosta didn't produce one. Nor did he point out that since 1970, the cost of Medicare has risen 34 percent more per patient "than the combined costs of all health care in America apart from Medicare and Medicaid." He also didn't question Scheiner about the problems Medicare has created for patients when doctors decide to opt out of Medicare (because of lower reimbursements and "too much" hassle).
On Wednesday's The O'Reilly Factor on FNC, host Bill O'Reilly cited the Business and Media Institute's recent study finding that broadcast network evening and morning news shows have slanted their coverage of President Obama's health care proposals heavily in the Democratic President's favor, as O'Reilly introduced a segment with FNC analyst and former CBS News correspondent Bernard Goldberg. O'Reilly:
Tonight, we have a number of topics for Mr. Goldberg, beginning with a new study by the Media Research Center, a conservative group out of Virginia. They analyzed more than 200 health care stories on the big three network morning and evening news programs. The Center found 70 percent of the soundbites used in those stories favored President Obama's health care vision – 70 percent.
It worked for President Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election, when he took tax cuts - a conservative issue - and made it his own. Now, liberals are employing a similar tactic in promoting their health care agenda.
But Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., isn't having it. He called out Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of the left wing The Nation magazine and MSNBC guest co-host, for attempting it in questioning him in a MSNBC segment on July 29. vanden Heuvel asked Ryan why he was against a so-called public health insurance option. His opposition, she reasoned, would deny consumers the choice of a public option in the marketplace.
"Rep. Ryan, that sounds like an anti-competitive vote," vanden Heuvel said. "Competition is at the heart of America and to deny Americans competition by denying them an option of a public plan seems to me un-American."
On Tuesday's Glenn Beck Program on FNC, host Beck picked up on P.J. Gladnick's recent NewsBusters posting which helped bring attention to President Obama's double standard in charging that Congress was "rushed" by the Bush administration into passing budgets and anti-terrorism measures with little time for debate -- in a 2004 interview with Randi Rhodes on the left-wing Air America -- even though as President he has pressed Congress to act quickly on a number of major spending proposals since taking office.
Beck also ran a clip of Congressman John Conyers as the Michigan Democrat scoffed at suggestions members of Congress should read and understand bills before voting for them. Conyers: "To get up and say, 'Read the bill.' What good is reading the bill if it's 1,000 pages and you don't have two days and two lawyers to find out what it means after you read the bill?"
During the show's regular "Hot List" segment, Beck recounted: "The Web site NewsBusters.org posting a November 2004 interview with Air America's Randi Rhodes, where Senator-elect Obama complains about the Bush administration."
Then an audio clip of Obama from the 2004 interview ran:
We know how the media relished the fall of the GOP, and lovingly analyzed divisions within the party. But their beloved Democrats are falling apart before their eyes, and the strain is beginning to tell. The Blue Dog Democrats are for being the only thing between this nation and socialized medicine, a fact that has some liberals coming out swinging – literally, in at least one case.
“Social commentator” Nancy Giles appeared on the “Today Show” July 28 along with Dan Abrams and Willie Geist during Kathy Lee Gifford and Hota Kotb’s segment “News Flash.” The usually all small-talk segment got heated when it turned to health care.
Kotb posed the simple question “Do you guys think health care will pass…?” Abrams and Willie gave simple answers. Giles, however, got passionate.
“It better and I could punch every Blue Dog Democrat in the nose. And I’m a Democrat. I could punch them, I’m so annoyed. And I’m annoyed with Harry Reid. I better not find him in an elevator.”
Conservatives are used to hearing liberals gloat about how the island paradise that is Cuba provides free health care to its fortunate denizens. Apparently there's now yet another country that we have to look up to: Rwanda.
On her MSNBC show this afternoon, Dr. Nancy Snyderman proclaimed herself "jealous" of Rwanda, which reportedly provides health insurance coverage to 90% of its citizens.
Snyderman's guest was Mary Robinson. The former President of Ireland is now in charge of "the Ethical Globalization Initiative" at the hoity-toity Aspen Institute. Snyderman seemed intent on drawing her guest into making invidious comparisons between the US and the rest of the world.
A week after ABC anchor Dan Harris hailed how “Senator Ted Kennedy is using his own battle against brain cancer to make an emotional pitch for health care reform. Writing in Newsweek, Kennedy called it 'the cause of my life,'” Sunday's World News devoted a full story to Kennedy's cause as Harris' tease framed Kennedy's big government agenda in the most-benign light: “In the game. An ailing Ted Kennedy, now working from his sick bed to achieve his life-long goal of health care for everyone.”
He introduced the subsequent story: “Behind the scenes, Senator Ted Kennedy, a man who has called this his life's work, is playing a surprisingly large role, despite his brain tumor.” Reporter John Hendren fretted: “Senator Edward Kennedy is the missing man in the battle for health care reform. On Capitol Hill, nearly everyone agrees things would be different if the liberal lion were here.”
Hendren went back to March to show a clip of President Obama saluting Kennedy -- “To Sir Edward Kennedy. That's the kind of greeting a knight deserves. It is thrilling to see you here, Teddy” -- before effusing over how “in his absence, his colleagues invoke his name, hoping also to borrow his legislative prowess.” Nonetheless, Hendren concluded, passing Obama's health agenda has been “made harder by the absence of its top advocate on Capitol Hill.” As if that's a bad thing.
In late April, the Associated Press's Calvin Woodward, in a "Fact Check" report ("Obama disowns deficit he helped shape"), hit President Barack Obama's claims that he and his party don't deserve much of the blame for the size of this year's deficit pretty hard. It was such a surprise that I wondered who had put truth serum in his coffee.
Well, you might have guessed it would be Calvin Woodard doing the primary honors in an AP Fact Check that again takes aim at the President, this time over his health care bill. With the co-bylined help of Jim Kuhnhenn and contributions from Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Woodward and his team went after several claims made by Obama at his Wednesday press conference that don't stand up to scrutiny.