Fox News host Sean Hannity on Thursday highlighted a story on NewsBusters showing that ABC News spent far more time on Senator Jim Bunning and his non-scandal than the network did with Congressman Charlie Rangel's ethics violations.
Speaking to Bunning, Hannity informed his viewers: "NewsBusters, this is Brent Bozell's website, had a piece out and said that ABC News covered your issue involving your filibuster, if you will, six times more than the coverage that they gave to Charlie Rangel's scandal, which is a real scandal." [Audio available here.]
I've been leery of Luke Russert ever since the NBC reporter said, during the presidential campaign, that students at the U. of Virginia are "leaning a little bit towards Obama" because "the smartest kids in the state go there."
On this evening's Ed Show, the son of the late MTP moderator gave additional reason to think that he leans "a little bit towards Obama" himself. Speaking of the Dem congressman currently under ethics investigation in connection with an allegation that he sexually harassed a male staffer, Russert said that Eric Massa would change his vote and support ObamaCare "if he really was sincerely caring about health care."
For good measure, Schultz vouched for Massa's character, based largely on the liberal congressman's opposition to . . . Dick Cheney.
Could Sen. Jim Bunning's desire to pay for extended unemployment benefits with stimulus funds be the result of a serious mental disorder? So suggested Rachel Maddow during her show last night. Maddow based her report on unfouded allegations from a liberal newspaper, and neglected to mention the numerous unstable congressional Democrats that have come unhinged from time to time.
Maddow noted that "even his hometown newspaper has at times questioned his mental fitness," and quoted the Louisville Courier Journal, which in October 2004 asked, "Is his increasing belligerence an indication of something worse? Has [he] drifted into territory that indicates a serious health concern?"
Of course Maddow neglected to mention that Bunning's doctor at the time said his health was "excellent". His campaign manager said the Courier-Journal was spreading false accusations to damage Bunning's election prospects "because he's not a liberal." A political press? Never! (Clips from Maddow's show below the fold - h/t Brian Maloney.)
Sullivan did some number crunching and found that, due to concerns about a lack of a restriction on abortion spending in the Senate bill, Pelosi may end up being a few votes shy of the threshold to pass the legislation.
Sullivan's advice to the Speaker? She just needs to moderate her testy tone to dupe enough pro-life Democrats to voting for a bill that lacks the Stupak amendment which was passed in the House version of the bill (emphasis mine):
Over the last three days, ABC's World News devoted almost six times as much coverage to Senator Jim Bunning and his temporary hold-up of an unemployment bill as the program did for the ongoing revelations that Democratic Charlie Rangel violated House ethics with his trips to the Caribbean.
World News investigated and followed the Republican for four minutes and 38 seconds over two days. In comparison, the program could only manage a scant 48 seconds of coverage for Rangel. (Anchor Diane Sawyer on Wednesday finally asked George Stephanopoulos about the news that Rangel was stepping down from his powerful Ways and Means committee.)
The difference here is that Rangel's story was an actual scandal and ABC only treated Bunning's actions, which amounted to not giving unanimous consent to a $10 billion spending bill, as a scandal.
When a political editor declares that U.S. Senator Jim Bunning (R-Ky) makes "even former Vice President Dick Cheney seem warm and fuzzy," you know that the mainstream media are reaching for the long knives. Associate editor of The Hill A.B. Stoddard wrote in yesterday's "Bunning’s gift to Dems:"
Bunning’s blowup was indeed a gift to bewildered Democrats on more than one level. It portrayed Republicans as obstructionists, showed Republicans dissing the unemployed, gave the GOP the face of a mean old white guy that made even former Vice President Dick Cheney seem warm and fuzzy, illustrated how hamstrung Democrats are in trying to pass legislation within the confines of Senate rules, made fellow home-state senator and former friend Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) squirm and distracted from the plans Democrats have to pass healthcare reform with the reconciliation procedure, as well as from Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) stepping down as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee amid ethical troubles. Let’s call that a six-fer.
Introducing a story on the latest effort pass health care reform on Thursday's CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez proclaimed: "This morning President Obama is putting health care reform on the fast-track, declaring that it's year-long journey must be completed in Congress quickly."
At the top of the show, co-host Harry Smith had similarly declared: "President Obama says the health care debate is over. He wants a reform bill on his desk in the next few weeks." A Headline on screen read: "Health Care Fast-Track."
White House correspondent Bill Plante reported on the so-called "fast-track" plan: "The President yesterday rejected Republican calls to start over, saying that it is time to make a decision on health care....he made it clear that he's willing to get this done with a legislative maneuver requiring no Republican support." At the end of his report, Plante acknowledged things weren't quite so simple: "this is by no means a done deal....Republicans united in opposition, Democrats wavering because of elections this fall."
Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos on Thursday put the responsibility for passing health care on the shoulders of the pro-life Bart Stupak, worrying that the Congressman is "now threatening a mutiny over the issue of abortion." The GMA host interviewed Stupak and pressed him three times on voting for the legislation. [Audio available here.]
At one point, he solemnly queried, "If the President doesn't change the language, if your language is not accepted, you and your 11 colleagues who voted yes the last time will vote no this time. Does that mean you're prepared to take responsibility for bringing down this whole bill?"
Notice that Stephanopoulos placed the obligation on Stupak and not on pro-abortion Democrats who, one could argue, are more concerned with that issue than with passing health care. Earlier in the segment, the ABC journalist grilled, "So, if the President doesn't change the Senate bill, you can't vote for it?"
Why can't President Obama get a health care bill through Congress? Nope, it has nothing to do with the fact that a clear majority of the country doesn't want the federal government overhauling seventeen percent of the economy. The problem is he is just too darn reasonable.
So posits Newsweek's Andrew Romano, who notes that Obama could have gone wholesale-government-takeover on health care and a number of other legislative proposals during the past year. He opted for mandates and regulations rather than single-payer and hundreds of billions of dollars in wasteful stimulus spending instead of a trillion plus.
"Obama has chosen to support what he believes to be the best possible proposal instead of what he believes to be the best imaginable proposal," Romano states. Reasonableness in this context is simply a moderation in the president's march towards statism. He COULD be sprinting towards socialized medicine. Instead, his movement towards government control is more of a leisurely stroll. Unfortunately for the president the American people have rejected that approach as well.
"As the House prepares for its final push on health care, there are Democratic members, particularly those from conservative districts, who are facing a hard truth: This is the kind of vote that can end a career," Time magazine's Karen Tumulty lamented in a March 3 Swampland blog post entitled "When A Hard Vote Ends A Political Career."
Eh, suck it up, the veteran journalist practically counseled House Democrats wary of voting for the Democratic health care legislation, after all, there is life after politics. Just look at Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinski, who lost her seat in the 1994 midterm election which swept Republicans into control of Congress.
Margolies-Mezvinski doomed herself with a vote to hike taxes, Tumulty noted, but brought readers up to speed on the former congresswoman's life after politics to lay out the case that Mezvinski thinks her vote was worth it in the long run.
Tumulty concluded with a hint that Democrats in endangered seats need to consider leaving a "legacy" by passing ObamaCare (emphasis mine):
On Wednesday's CBS Early Show, Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer ranted against Republican Senator Jim Bunning's opposition to a spending bill: "it's unconscionable what has happened here....this is about politics. It is not – it was not about anything of substance." [Audio available here]
Co-host Maggie Rodriguez began the segment by explaining that Bunning had stopped blocking the legislation and asked Schieffer: "Isn't this just another example of why it takes so long to get things done in Congress?" Schieffer agreed, claiming: "it's another example...of why there is so much anger and disillusionment out in the country about Congress."
Schieffer went on to dismiss the Kentucky Senator's concerns over the rising deficit: "[He] claimed he was doing this because he was trying to get the Senate to go along with the Republican principle and that is pay things...before they approve them but this was emergency legislation." In reality, Democrats, not Republicans, just passed pay-as-you-go legislation last week, mandating that all new spending being paid for before passage. As for the "emergency" nature of the bill, on Tuesday's Early Show, CBS White House correspondent Chip Reid claimed it was simply "routine legislation."
ABC on Wednesday continued to berate Senator Jim Bunning for daring to hold up a $10 billion spending bill, despite the fact that the Kentucky Republican has since allowed the unemployment legislation to pass. Reporter Jonathan Karl piled on, "Even after the deal was struck, Democrats lashed out at Bunning for causing such a mess."
Karl replayed video of him harassing Bunning on Capitol Hill and forcing his way into a Senators-only elevator. Yet, Karl spun, "...Unemployment benefits can now be extended, but only after Senator Jim Bunning tied the Senate up in knots for a week, snapping at reporters." As the video shows, Karl seemed be doing much of the "snapping."
Some faulty memes get repeated so often they get burned in the media's collective memory as fact, even though they are myth. Perhaps the most notable example of that in 2009 was the myth that the New York 23rd congressional district had been solidly Republican since the Civil War until Doug Hoffman's third-party challenge of the liberal Republican Dede Scozzafava ensured a Democrat's victory in a special election. We've a lot of 2010 left to go, but perhaps history will record the greatest political myth of this year as Jim Bunning's "filibuster" that was anything but.
This isnot a filibuster, which is a specific procedure in which Senators force debate to continue indefinitely as a means to block a final vote, denying “cloture” to the majority party. Alternatively, and now somewhat archaically, it also describes an effort by one Senator to just continue talking to stall action. Bunning is using another mechanism altogether, one that won’t block a final vote, although it will delay it:
Just days after Rick Sanchez and his producer asked for "hardship stories" online, CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 program on Tuesday looked for people who have lost their unemployment benefits due to Republican Senator Jim Bunning's opposition to a $10 billion emergency measure which would have extended benefits.
The unsigned entry on the AC360 blog, which was posted on Tuesday afternoon, first recapped how Democrats attacked Bunning for blocking the unanimous consent of the measure. In the last sentence of the entry, the unnamed author asked readers of CNN.com to reply for their sob stories:
Reporting on Republican Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning blocking spending legislation over deficit concerns at the top of Tuesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith proclaimed: "Congressional quagmire. Democrats blame one Republican senator for preventing thousands of federal workers from working."
In a later report, White House correspondent Chip Reid continued to assail Bunning: "The White House is pointing its finger at a single Republican senator who they say is standing in the way of federal aid for hundreds of thousands of unemployed Americans....he is single-handedly holding up a routine piece of legislation." Rather than address Bunning's spending concerns, Reid declared: "Because of his objection, 2,000 federal transportation workers had to be furloughed without pay. 400,000 Americans risk losing their unemployment benefits over the next seven to ten days. And Medicare fees for doctors suddenly slashed by 21%."
Reid briefly noted: "Bunning wants the Democrats to come up with a way to pay the $10 billion price tag." A couple clips were played of the Kentucky Senator voicing his opposition: "And I'm going to object every time because you won't pay for this....We cannot keep adding to the debt."
CNN's Jack Cafferty again criticized Nancy Pelosi on Monday's Situation Room, knocking her inaction in removing Congressman Charlie Rangel as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. Cafferty highlighted how Pelosi "vowed to 'drain the swamp' in Washington when she became speaker," but at the same time "refuses to force him [Rangel] out as chairman."
The CNN commentator devoted his commentary 16 minutes into the 5 pm Eastern hour to Pelosi's handling of the Rangel matter. After noting that some Democrats were joining with Republicans in calling for the New York congressman's resignation as chairman, and highlighting how even the New York Times called on the Speaker to "stop protecting him," Cafferty knocked her inaction: "Pelosi says she's waiting for the Ethics Committee to finish its investigation before she makes any decisions. This is the same Nancy Pelosi who vowed to 'drain the swamp' in Washington when she became speaker, and the same Nancy Pelosi who years ago called on Republicans to remove the 'ethically unfit' Tom Delay as their majority leader."
On Monday's CBS Early Show, White House correspondent Bill Plante reported on the possibility of Democrats using reconciliation to pass a health care reform bill and noted how Republicans used the procedure when they were in the majority: "In the past it has helped the majority party push through some controversial legislation. In 2001, Republicans used it to pass a giant $1.3 trillion tax cut."
A Media Research Center special report conducted from January 20 to March 31 in 2001 found that out of 94 judgements of the size of the Bush tax cuts on ABC, NBC, and CBS, "84 percent...labeled it as 'big' or 'huge' or otherwise portrayed it as large." CBS was one of the worst offenders, with various reporters describing the cuts as large a total of 14 times in that ten-week period. Then-CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather alone used the word "big" 11 times to describe the tax cuts.
Meanwhile, on Monday's Early Show, Plante did not use the "giant" label to describe the massive ObamaCare legislation, simply referring to it as a "sweeping proposal." According to a Heritage Foundation study by James C. Capretta, the total cost of the bill could add up to $2.5 trillion over ten years.
The Washington Post issued a correction on Saturday in which it apologized for a mischaracterization of the House Republican Whip's use of a printout of the Senate-passed health care bill:
In a Feb. 26 editorial, we said Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) was "posturing" during the Thursday health-care summit by stacking the voluminous Senate bill before him. Mr. Cantor says that he had the bill with him, well-tabbed, not for show but so that Republicans could respond if specific provisions of the bill came up for discussion. That makes sense, and we should not have characterized his purpose as we did.
Yesterday (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted Fannie Mae's $72 billion loss announcement and the ward of the state's simultaneous $15.3 billion handout request.
Late Friday was also the occasion for the release by the Treasury Department of the "2009 Financial Report of the United States Government." The report shows how seriously the government's financial situation deteriorated during the fiscal year that ended September 30. The coverage of the report prepared by the Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger demonstrated how weak the press's communication of that seriousness is.
After presenting the first several paragraphs of Crutsinger's composition for the purpose of providing the basic facts, I'll concentrate on the AP writer's three worst paragraphs that followed (there is also a summary table from the report at the end of this post):
A report on the health care summit on Friday's CBS Early Show featured a clip of President Obama scolding lawmakers for "trading talking points" during the meeting, that was followed by correspondent Bill Plante pointing a finger at the GOP: "But from their first speaker, Republicans never backed down from their opposition to the Democrats' bill."
Plante noted that "John McCain, the President's opponent In 2008, challenged the process by which the Democrats' bill was produced." After a clip was played of McCain denouncing the lack of change in Washington, Plante touted how "the President shot back," playing a clip of Obama proclaiming "the election is over." Plante also highlighted an exchange in which Obama slammed Senator Lamar Alexander, telling the Tennessee Republican to get his "facts straight."
Oddly, after displaying the President's clearly partisan attacks, Plante concluded: "Democrats emerged from the meeting saying they still want bipartisanship. Republicans said they don't see that happening."
On Thursday's CBS Evening News, White House correspondent Chip Reid described how "exasperated" President Obama was with Republicans, who proved they were the "party of no."
CNN, both on-air and on its website, highlighted how Democratic leaders and President Obama spoke more than twice as long as Republican leaders at Thursday's health care summit. CNN.com's Political Ticker on Thursday noted how Republicans "spoke for just 111 minutes, about 30 percent of the total speaking time." The statistic was also cited on Campbell Brown on Thursday and American Morning on Friday.
The network's Jeff Simon and Charles Riley put up a six-paragraph article on the lopsided figures on CNN.com at 7:12 pm Eastern time: "A CNN analysis of the meeting shows that Democrats - including President Obama, who helmed the meeting - were granted more than twice the amount of speaking time as Republicans. Democrats spoke for a total of 135 minutes while President Obama spoke for 122 minutes, for a total of 257 minutes. Republicans, meanwhile, spoke for just 111 minutes, about 30 percent of the total speaking time."
All this week CNN has been taking a look at “Broken Government” and in some cases the cable channel deviated from the mainstream media norm by providing a critical view of government.
That was the case on Feb. 23 when Wolf Blitzer and Lisa Sylvester scrutinized lavish pension-plan and retirement-packages for government officials during “The Situation Room.”
“Many Americans will spend half a lifetime or more working for the same company only to find little or no safety-net when that job ends,” Blitzer said to begin the report. “Others, especially those on Capitol Hill don’t have that problem.”
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!
Earlier this afternoon, NB's Tim Graham noted how NPR's Robert Siegel and Pew Research pollster Andrew Kohut spoke approvingly of "Millennials" as being "less 'militaristic' and less religious" than their elders.
At end of his post, Graham noted that Siegel and Kohut "somehow" forgot to discuss the key political finding in the poll, namely that the demographic's 32-point favoritism towards Democrats (62% to 30%) has declined by more than half (to 54% to 40%) in just one year of living in Obamaland. Shoot, if that trend continues for another nine months, it will be almost all even by Election Day in November.
Special C-SPIN Coverage of the Toyota Recall Hearings [Satire]
House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations
REP. WALDEN (R-OR.): Secretary LaHood, are Toyotas safe to drive?
SEC. LAHOOD: We believe that the Toyotas listed on our Web site are not safe to drive - unlike the sporty, affordable Chevy Cobalt.
REP. SUTTON (D-OH.): So, you're saying that a woman - a minority woman - driving a Toyota is putting her life at risk?
SEC. LAHOOD: Yes ma'am there is a significant risk of her Toyota accelerating, uh, unwantedly. Now had that woman checked out the surprisingly affordable Buick Enclave ...
REP. DINGELL, (D-Mich.): Mr. Secretary, I want to thank you for your forthright testimony here today, and I'd like to ask you if you think these problems in vehicles built at Southern plants might be the result of negligence of workers who are unhappy? I mean workers whose job security and retirement are in constant jeopardy, and who've been denied the opportunity to collectively bargain? Who lack representation?
SEC. LAHOOD: If you mean to imply, Congressman, that these safety issues wouldn't have occurred in cars built in UAW plants, uh, you're absolutely right. Now, for the union professionals who build the luxurious Cadillac Escalade, there's union quality behind every turn of the wrench.
REP. WALDEN: Now let me ...
SEC. LAHOOD: I'd also like to say that the quality doesn't end at the factory door...
REP. WALDEN: Thank you...
SEC. LAHOOD: ...and it extends to those famous Mr. GoodWrench Mechanics...
"I pray God when the Democrats take back control we don’t make the kind of naked power grab you are doing." - Joe Biden, 2005
Few Americans would be shocked to hear that members of Congress are not always consistent, and occasionally outright hypocritical. Very often, however, the liberal media attempts to downplay Democratic double standards and highlight Republican ones.
Each recent change in the congressional majority, it seems has brought calls from the newly dominant party for an end to the filibuster. This Democratic majority is no different.
When noting rhetorical inconsistencies, however, the mainstream media has jumped at the chance to note that Republicans, now using the filibuster as a potential means to block Democratic health care legislation, were ardent advocates of majoritarianism in the Senate only a few years ago (as demonstrated in the video below the fold).
Near the end of the Tuesday 3 p.m. EST hour on MSNBC, anchor David Shuster invoked the riveting “Toyota hearings” currently taking place on Capitol Hill as an excuse to compile a grab-bag of liberal gotcha moments – consisting of Joe McCarthy, Iran-Contra, and Watergate – and ignore historical events unfavorable to liberals.
He also seized upon the opportunity to chide Fox News in the context of Oliver North, who was involved in the Iran-Contra scandal and currently works for the network. “North was convicted of criminal charges, but the conviction was vacated on appeal. Wonder what he’s doing now. Hmmm…” said Shuster.
CNN's Kiran Chetry's two guests -- Time magazine's Karen Tumulty and Wendell Potter of the liberal Center for Media and Democracy -- promoted the latest health care "reform" proposal by President Obama on Tuesday's American Morning. Chetry also omitted the left-of-center political affiliation of Potter's organization.
The CNN anchor began the segment, which aired just after the bottom of the 7 am Eastern hour, by focusing on the cost of President Obama's latest health care plan: "[Obama] laid out his own vision online yesterday. It would cost an estimated $950 billion over 10 years, and it would extend coverage to about 31 million uninsured Americans. It would also expand Medicaid and close the so-called 'doughnut hole' in Medicare, where seniors have to pay out-of-pocket for prescription drugs. So where does all the money come from?"
Chetry then introduced Potter as a "former insurance executive" who is "now with the Center for Media and Democracy," and Tumulty as the "national political correspondent for Time magazine, who has done extensive writing about the health care situation." The anchor never mentioned the Center's liberal political agenda during the segment (four previous CNN personalities did the same during 2009). She first asked Tumulty to "break down for us how the President is proposing to pay for this nearly $1 trillion proposal."