The Associated Press has published a great but disturbing story. Given the frequent and deserved grief yours truly administers when the wire service lets its readers, listeners, viewers, and subscribing news organizations down, it seems only fair to acknowledge fine work when it does occur. The real question is, in the politically charged U.S. health care environment, whether the AP's subscribers and other media outlets aware of Frank Bajak's Wednesday morning report will acknowledge its existence, and adequately relay the horrors contained therein.
The story is about what's left of Venezuela's "free" healthcare system. It's in shambles. The headline reads like it might be "only" doctors who say so, but Bajak's content says otherwise. Readers here need to go to the full report, because the excerpts which follow of necessity convey only a small portion of how awful things are, including indications that the country is moving ever closer to becoming another Cuba:
After NBC warned viewers that the partial government shutdown that ended weeks ago may be "the Grinch that stole Christmas," on Tuesday's Today, correspondent Stephanie Gosk fretted that Thanksgiving would be ruined as well: "Macy's, the company that sponsors the Thanksgiving Day Parade, will open its doors on the holiday for the first time in 155 years....But there is a risk, the identity of one of the country's most cherished holidays may be in jeopardy." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Despite co-host Matt Lauer noting moments earlier that the trend of Black Friday creeping into Thanksgiving had been happening "for years," Gosk laid blame on October's temporary shutdown: "Retailers are facing a tough reality. The government shutdown slowed down the economy and took a serious toll on consumer confidence. A recent poll showed that just over half of shoppers say they will spend less than last year this Christmas season."
To a liberal, what's worse than smoking crack? Opposing higher taxes! Admission: I'm libertarian when it comes to drug laws. I believe the War on Drugs has been a big bust, excuse the pun, just like Prohibition was.
That said, I still found hilarious Chris Hayes' statement on his MSNBC show tonight, commenting on the admission by Toronto Mayor Rob Ford that he had smoked crack cocaine, that Ford had done worse things. Among the litany of Ford's failures that were worse than getting on the pipe? Opposing higher taxes and privatizing garbage collection! View the video after the jump.
Striking the Northeast on Oct. 29, 2012, Hurricane Sandy tragically devastated communities causing an estimated $50 billion in damages. By the end of January 2013, a relief bill was passed for Sandy aid, after the bill was delayed because of wasteful spending.
House Republicans opposed a pork-ridden $60 billion Senate bill ($10 billion higher than damage estimates) and chose not to vote on it. Politicians, including some Republicans, and the media criticized them for delaying this legislation. A $51 billion bill was passed by both houses of Congress by the end of January, after a $9.7 billion flood insurance bill passed in early January.
Monday night on her Fox News program, Megyn Kelly played a clip of President Obama going beyond the now-infamous "If you like your plan, you can keep your plan" promise. Earlier Monday, as Noel Sheppard at NewsBusters noted, Lisa Myers and Hannah Rappleye at NBC News revealed that the Obama administration knew three years ago that "more than 40 to 67 percent of those in the individual market would not be able to keep their plans, even if they liked them."
At the 0:59 mark of the video which follows (HT Mediaite), viewers will see Kelly introduce and then replay Obama's February 2010 promise that "any insurance you have will be grandfathered in," even if it's an "Acme Insurance, just a high deductible catastrophic plan":
Green energy is supposedly the future. Why, solar energy will break out and become a major energy source any year now, or any decade now. Or maybe never. It has been the subject of national attention ever since President Obama made it a cornerstone of his 2008 presidential campaign. Of course, what Obama claims is in energy policy has worked out to be more a of a growth-constraining, government money-wasting endeavor than anything else.
The Denver Post carried the original story on Thursday of how the federal government's first attempt at a solar auction went. The headline was accurate: "1st auction of solar rights on public lands in Colorado draws no bids." That's right. Zero. Post reporter Mark Jaffe's first sentence was charitable but acceptable: "The plan to auction rights to federal land across the West for solar-power plants got off to a rocky start Thursday when no bidders showed up for the first auction in Colorado." Too bad that two establishment press outlets which were in a position to communicate this news to the nation failed to adequately do so.
The left has been ridiculing supposedly wildly overstated estimates of the costs of building the calamitous HealthCare.gov website, the fact is that the costs involved are certainly far higher than the figures most commonly cited: "over 500 million" at Digital Trends, "over $400 million" at the New York Times. The Washington Post's Glenn Kessler is claiming that it's really only $170 milion to $300 million.
In Part 1 (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted that Bloomberg Government's Peter Gosselin estimated that costs incurred and costs committed to outside firms alone are already north of $1 billion. Now let's look at how much additional taxpayer money the Department of Health and Human Services may have spent on the Obamacare exchange rollout.
The left has been ridiculing supposedly wildly overstated estimates of the costs of building the calamitous HealthCare.gov website.
Based on a look at one contractor, CGI, which he must have assumed was the general contractor (i.e., the lead entity through which amounts paid to subcontracting firms would be funneled), Andrew Couts at Digital Trends originally estimated a total cost of $634 million. Couts later backed it down to "over $500 million" after identifying non-Affordable Care Act-related work with which CGI was associated. The New York Times has until recently been working with a figure of "over $400 million." All figures just noted are almost certainly miles too low, for two reasons.
At the Associated Press Friday morning, economics writer Christopher Rugaber's story had a predictably sunny and incomplete headline ("LONG-LASTING US FACTORY GOODS ORDERS RISE 3.7 PCT.") followed by an opening paragraph which told readers that "orders for most other goods fell" and which speculated without basis that the substantively bad news was "a possible sign of concern about the partial government shutdown that began Oct. 1."
That's a great reporting strategy if your goal is to keep busy news consumers inadequately informed. Those who only read the headline will believe that this economic element was unequivocally positive. Those who only get through the first paragraph will see the bad news and blame congressional Republicans, on whom the establishment media has successfully pinned the blame for the 17 percent shutdown — even though it objectively doesn't belong there. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine):
Taking journalistic hypocrisy to ever-headier heights, Politico's Todd Purdum spent hundreds of words Wednesday evening bemoaning the potential impact of an incident which both sides involved say never happened, and acted as if incivility only comes out of the mouths of conservatives and Republicans.
Earlier Wednesday, the website's Tal Kopan relayed news that Illinois Democratic Senator Dick Durbin "said in a Facebook post that a House Republican leader told off President Barack Obama during a negotiation meeting, and that GOP leaders are so disrespectful it’s practically impossible to have a conversation with them." The supposed statement to Obama by a GOP leader, which both White House spokesman Jay Carney and House Speaker John Boehner say never was made, and which Durbin could not have observed or heard because he wasn't there, was: "I cannot even stand to look at you." Durbin, it must be recalled, ultimately was forced to apologize for comparing U.S. troops at Guantanamo Bay to "Nazis, Soviets in their gulags or some mad regime — Pol Pot or others — that had no concern for human beings," in 2005.
In 2003, Halliburton Company received a great deal of scrutiny from the establishment press over certain no-bid contracts obtained in connection with the Iraq War. Examples, two of which are from the Associated Press, are here, here, and here. A Google News Archive Search on "Halliburton no-bid" not in quotes allegedly returns 1,760 items (Google's counter is suspect, but the list extends to at least 19 pages, or well over 190 items, including multiple items in some listings).
In 2010, the Washington Times was virtually alone among media outlets in reporting that the Obama administration, despite presidential candidate Barack Obama's campaign promise never to entertain such deals, had entered into a no-bid contract with KBR, a former subsidiary of Halliburton, "worth as much as $568 million." It turns out that CGI, the Canadian company which is the lead firm in the design and rollout of HealtCare.gov, also has a no-bid contract with the federal government. But an AP search on "CGI no-bid" (not in quotes) comes up empty. A Google News search on the same string (not in quotes) returns only four times, none of which are establishment press outlets (as would be expected, the Washington Times is one of the four).
After consistently blaming Republicans for the government shutdown, on Sunday's NBC Nightly News, fill-in anchor Carl Quintanilla warned that while the budget stalemate ended days earlier, "Many people who were furloughed or otherwise affected are still paying the price, and will do so for some time." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In the report that followed, CNBC correspondent Bertha Coombs touted: "A new survey says about forty percent of consumers cut their spending because of the government shutdown. And store traffic was down seven percent compared to last year." She then proclaimed: "Retailers are hoping the shutdown doesn't become the Grinch that stole Christmas, but they're worried it will."
During the 2011-2012 controversy over Wisconsin's Act 10, the establishment press, led by the Associated Press, clearly took sides against Badger State Republican Governor Scott Walker and the GOP-led legislature. No one was more blatantly biased than the AP's Scott Bauer, who repeatedly insisted in 2011 and 2012 that the law "strip(s) most public employees of their union right to collectively bargain." It does not. While Act 10 sharply limits the scope of what can be negotiated, it does not eliminate unions' right to exist, or to negotiate.
Walker will be releasing a new book, "Unintimidated: A Governor's Story and a Nation's Challenge," in November. Given the sustained national attention Act 10 received, the utlimately failed recall movement it inspired, and Walker's possible interest in seeking the nation's presidency in 2016, it's reasonable to believe that the AP would have wanted to carry Bauer's Monday morning review of the book as a national story. But thus far, it has not. I believe it's because Bauer comes across as a fundamentally dishonest and embarrassingly partisan sore loser.
Apparently PBS has decided to make like MSNBC and spend more time dissecting the Republican Party’s problems real, imagined, and/or overblown. On Monday’s PBSNewsHour, anchor Judy Woodruff announced that the program would begin “a series of conversations about where the Republican Party goes from here.” The first installment, a discussion with former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.), amounted to a lot of hand-wringing over the Tea Party.
Throughout the interview, Lott tried to keep the focus on positive steps Republicans can take, but Woodruff kept calling his attention back to the alleged problem of the Tea Party. The anchor reminded Lott that “you have factions in your party, I mean, all the way from the Tea Party to folks who sympathize with the Tea Party all the way to some moderates.” Interesting how she split the Tea Party into two groups while putting “some moderates” in one group. [Video below. MP3 audio here.]
A recurring theme at the Los Angeles Times during the past several days has been that the nation's economic and fiscal circumstances really aren't all that bad, and they're getting better under Dear Leader Obama. (Oh, and throw in a healthy dose of "It's Bush's fault" for good measure.)
Lisa Mascaro, with the help of Brian Bennett, David Lauter and Michael A. Memoli, added to that effort late Saturday afternoon. In an item primarily about the politics of the Washington's next scheduled fiscal standoff in mid-December, she did the usual spin on this year's budget deficit (writing that it has "declined rapidly," while conveniently forgetting that this year's shortfall will be higher than any non-Obama deficit in U.S. history). She also gave undue credence based on poor historical accuracy to Congressional Budget Office projections which claim that "the national debt ... is projected to be stable or even declining as a share of the economy well into the next decade." But she ventured beyond the careful but misleading realm of the previous two statements into flat-out falsehood when she wrote: "The country is on a budget trajectory that, while substantially improved from the recent recession ..."
ABC on Thursday night took a victory lap in its effort to blame congressional Republicans for the government shutdown. World News reporter Jeff Zeleny and other journalists at the network phoned all the House and Senate GOP members who opposed the deal to reopen the federal government. These reporters demanded to know if the lawmakers would give back the salary they earned during the 16-day shutdown.
Zeleny justified, "Since it was Congress that shut the government down, one of the top questions you asked us, should they get paid?" [See video below. MP3 audio here.] The journalist made no mention of Barack Obama or the congressional Democrats who rejected numerous compromise efforts to reopen the federal government.
Well, the federal government has been reopened and the debt ceiling has been raised, but to hear CBS’s Bob Schieffer tell it, you would think the United States just made it through another civil war. On Friday’s CBS This Morning, Schieffer compared the recent shutdown haggle to America’s bloodiest war.
The chief Washington correspondent was on the program to discuss the aftermath of the partial government shutdown when he made this comment: “I think the model for Democrats right now is Abraham Lincoln in his second inaugural address when he said, ‘With malice toward none and charity for all, let us go forward now,’ and so forth.” [See video below the break.]
Good Morning America's Jon Karl on Friday continued his efforts to assign blame for what he called the "Ted Cruz shutdown." This prompted the Texas senator to shoot back: "A lot of the media did" that. [See video below. MP3 audio here.] GMA co-host George Stephanopoulos touted the Republican's appearance as a "contentious and defiant interview."
Karl lectured, "People hated this shutdown. They hated this impasse. And this was seen as the Ted Cruz shutdown." He attacked, "You more than any single individual were seen as the one that triggered this crisis to begin with."
Liberal cable anchor Chris Matthews on Thursday sneered at conservatives Mike Lee and Ted Cruz, trashing their "white" "minority" base. The Hardball host also defined a patriot as someone who "believes in government." According to Matthews, conservative Republicans in the House and Senate don't meet this standard. The host fumed, "They all run around as if 'we got all of these white people out here,' this little minority of the country. 'But they're better Americans than the rest and we represent them.'" Perhaps the journalist is unaware that Cruz is multi-ethnic and not "white."[See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Matthews insisted that Americans should be asking these questions in the wake of the government shutdown: "Does the majority will still matter? There's the fact that he [Obama] is President, is it paramount?" The anchor lectured that it is "highly inconsistent" for conservatives to call themselves patriots since they have "disrespect for institutions." He then went on to offer a new definition of patriotism.
Fox News host Stuart Varney embarrassed Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday’s Your World with Neil Cavuto, using archived video to expose the congressman’s hypocrisy on the debt limit. Rangel supported raising the debt limit before today’s deadline, of course, but back in 2004, with Republican George W. Bush in the White House, he sang a different tune.
Varney, filling in for Cavuto, set Rangel up by asking him why he wanted to borrow so much money now. Rangel ignored the question, instead expressing his glee at the deal the Senate had reached. He exclaimed, “[W]e have kicked the can down the road and I'm happy.” Varney then made his play: [Watch the video below the break.]
After spending days trashing the Republican Party as guilty of "treason" and "economic terrorism," left-wing MSNBC anchor Ed Schultz on Wednesday spotlighted the Taliban's criticism of the shutdown. The host lectured that "no matter what the final outcome of the showdown is...damage to our global reputation has already been done." He then proceeded to showcase international attacks on America.
Schultz went so far as to highlight, "Heck, even the Taliban militants took the opportunity to taunt the United States. The group issued this statement, accusing U.S. politicians of 'sucking the blood of their own people.'" [See video below. MP3 audio here.] It was just Tuesday that the cable anchor railed against a form of "terrorism," but he was talking about the GOP.
Sweet set out to convince readers that while the White House veggie garden was the first lady's "signature project," she was powerless to thwart the ravages of Mother Nature as the shutdown furloughed gardeners who tended to the plants. Apparently the First Lady can't work the garden herself with some capable volunteers from local charities like Miriam's Kitchen helping her, even though she used those folks for a harvesting photo-op in October 2009 (emphasis mine):
As the government shutdown neared its end, ABC's Jon Karl put the blame totally on House Republicans and allowed Barack Obama to escape responsibility. According to Karl on Tuesday night's World News, "...After bringing the economy to the brink, the Republicans, the conservatives who drove this, will have nothing to show for it." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
On Wednesday's Good Morning America, Karl upped the hyperbole, warning of the "dangerous brinkmanship" that could lead to "economic collapse." Shifting into opinion mode, Karl lectured, "As this showdown moves towards end game, House Republicans are the clear losers. They push to the brink and have nothing to show for it."
For the second time in one day, an MSNBC anchor accused Republicans of betraying the United States. According to Ed Schultz on Tuesday, House GOP members who won't agree to all of Barack Obama's demands on the government shutdown are committing "economic terrorism" and plotting a "coup d'etat" against the President.
Schultz brought on Democratic Congressman Joseph Crowley to discuss whether there would be a vote on the shutdown. The Ed Show host fumed, "Congressman, what we're seeing happen in America right now, I think, is economic terrorism." The anchor offered his version of what passing the debt ceiling deadline would mean: "Interest rates are going to go nuts. Belt tightening is going to take place. Unemployment's going to go up." He escalated, "This is economic terrorism as I call it...It seems to be nothing more than a legislative coup d'etat." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Between the government shut down and the debt ceiling limit about to be crossed Oct. 17, the news media is screaming like the house is on fire. The Obama administration has also warned of dangers. Of course, that’s nothing new.
In many cases following the Obama administration’s reports and threats, the networks were hysterical in their coverage of the “fiscal cliff” and the sequester in late 2012 and early 2013. They repeated predictions and made claims that in many cases, simply failed to happen.
Lefty hysteria over the debt ceiling reached a new peak with the Huffington Post’s “A Survival Guide to the Debt Ceiling Apocalypse.” Hyping fears of what they call “defaultocalypse,” the article openly advocated readers to “panic,” “heavily arm yourself” and “train and befriend a wolf.”
This Oct. 14 article detailed the various financial risks of a national default, calling Republicans “insane” for allowing this possibility. Presumably, they intended to be humorous, but the dire warnings over default are consistent with the Huffington Post’s regular fear mongering over the Oct. 17 debt-ceiling deadline.
Amidst all the blather about Republicans going over the cliff and taking the world with them, a tantalizing bit of truth broke through on today's Morning Joe. Doomsaying notwithstanding, the GOP is actually positioned to do OK in 2014.
Making the comment particularly surprising was its source: none other than Barack Obama's former senior adviser himself—David Axelrod. View the video after the jump.
Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of this government shutdown has been the inability of the average person to get a handle on what's really going on.
Outfits like the network evening news shows, the Associated Press, the New York Times and others compose their spin, and almost invariably tilt their coverage towards the Obama administration and Democrats; developments favoring the GOP and conservatives, if mentioned at all, get washed away. Two examples from today of shutdown settlement ideas President Barack Obama rejected will prove the point.
MSNBC morning host Thomas Roberts on Tuesday continued in his role as one of MSNBC's most rabidly partisan, openly liberal anchors. Talking to Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn about the partial government shutdown, he questioned her patriotism, sneering, "Congresswoman, let me ask you though, when it comes to ObamaCare, do you hate ObamaCare more than you love your country?" [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
A surprised Blackburn immediately retorted, "I've got to tell you something,. I think that comments like that" are "just incredibly inappropriate." Parroting White House talking points, Roberts recited, "You don't think it's incredibly inappropriate to shut down our government and take all the hostages of Americans that you've taken?" After Blackburn again objected to the smear, Roberts lectured, "No, no, no. It's not inappropriate because you've taken the government hostage through a shutdown and all the American people, you're walking them to a cliff."