Bill Kristol, editor of the conservative magazine The Weekly Standard dismantled liberal PBS host Tavis Smiley on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos.
Appearing as a guest on Sunday, June 1, Kristol left Smiley speechless surrounding how to solve the VA scandal when he asked his fellow panelist: “If they got a generous voucher to use to purchase the health insurance they need or the health care they need how would that be failing veterans?” [See video below.]
An item which appears to be overlooked in the Department of Veterans Affairs scandal is the press's and presumably the public's blind acceptance of the department's goal to reduce its average wait times to 14 days as supposedly "aggressive."
My reaction is that the goal doesn't seem "aggressive" at all, or even borderline acceptable, based on both personal experience and some admittedly limited research I've done on best practices. It seems to me that the average consumer, and for that matter the average journalist, would have a hard time accepting the idea of an average 14-day wait time for a personal appointment involving real urgency. So why should the expectations of or for those who served our country be any lower?
After investing so much emotional energy in the idea that the weather-impaired contracting U.S. economy of the first quarter is going to give way to a super-duper awesome second quarter and strong rest of the year, it was foolish to think that Martin Crutsinger at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, would backtrack after just one contradictory report on consumer spending, which "unexpectedly" fell 0.1 percent in April, confounding expectations of a 0.2 percent pickup.
And of course he didn't. What's remarkable is that Crutsinger's Friday report seemed to get even more aggressive with his second-quarter prediction, citing "some analysts" who believe that it will come in at an annualized 4 percent — quite the reversal from the first quarter's 1.0 percent annualized contraction. Meanwhile, the AP reporter missed a less buoyant report from his colleague Christopher Rugaber which punctured a bit of Crutsinger's premise. Excerpts from both items follow the jump.
Julie Pace at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, is used to carrying water for the Obama administration. Last year, she proudly reveled in how she and her wire service sat on information it had about secret U.S.-Iran negotiations for eight months. My immediate take was that "They didn't report it until the Obama administration said it would be okay to report it." The AP denied it; unfortunately for the self-described "essential global news network," another news organization confirmed that it and AP "both had versions of it independently early & were asked to not publish til end of Iran talks." There's not a chance in Hades that the AP would have similarly accommodated a Republican or conservative administration.
After that heavy lifting, Pace surely found that giving readers the impression in a Friday report about President Barack Obama's sacking of Eric Shinseki that the problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs have more to do with its growing caseload than with incompetence and potential criminality was relatively easy.
In a report at CNBC on Thursday, Dan Mangan covered a "Kaiser Health Tracking Poll" which appears to have been pre-cooked for an administration which would love to have the press give Obamacare even less than the disproportionately low coverage that it has received since a few weeks after HealthCare.gov's diastrous initial rollout.
Mangan eagerly took the bait. His opening sentence: "And the winner by a nose is...shut up about Obamacare!" Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine):
When you’ve lost Chris Matthews, have you lost liberal America? The Hardball host stopped by for a visit on the May 30 edition of MSNBC’s NewsNation for an analysis of the resignation of VA Secretary Shinseki and the VA scandal overall.
The former Tip O’Neill staffer didn’t hold back, repeatedly hitting Obama and Shinseki for a lack of alertness regarding the scandal. Matthews was aghast at the utter lack of awareness the president has shown–not just on the VA –but on his signature legislative achievement, ObamaCare. He even insinuated that a lack of cognizance was a part of the president’s habitual behavior, proclaiming [audio here; video below]:
Imagine the press letting a Republican or conservative get away with trying to avoid uncondtionally calling something as infuriating and outrageous as the Veterans Administration waiting list scandal a real scandal.
Mass murder at a sunny college campus in a beach town would normally be considered "newsy," but Elliot Rodger's massacre at the University of California-Santa Barbara last Friday is getting surprisingly little press.
This is not a good case for liberals: The killer was an immigrant, a person of color, and the majority of his casualties resulted from attacks with a car or knife. It makes as much sense to rant about the NRA as to blame the Auto Club of America or the National Knife Collectors Association.
Last week, I noted how stunned and frustrated CNN reporter Drew Griffin was with President Barack Obama's Wednesday Veterans Administration scandal press conference. Reacting to Obama's pledge to have VA Secretary Secretary Eric Shinseki investigate the problem and to bring in another person "to conduct a broader review" of the VA, Griffin contended that "this problem is real; it exists; it really doesn't have to be studied."
I have since learned that there is an especially strong reason for Griffin's exasperation. The CNN reporter was on the VA's case long before his work in Phoenix, doing work which the rest of the press ignored.
The Associated Press's Charles Babington went so far over the top in his Monday morning dispatch on Republicans, the Obama administration's scandals, and the fall electoral landscape that it's hard to know where to begin.
The fingerprints of Obama administration operatives appear to be all over Babington's report, both in what's included and what's left out. Most notoriously, there is no mention whatsoever of the Veterans Administration scandal. Ah, but there's a specific reference to Democrats who complain that the Benghazi and IRS scandals have been "fading from national headlines" except at the specifically named Fox News. Excerpts from Babington's babbling follow the jump (bolds are mine):
With about 4-1/2 months remaining before early voting begins in the the 2014 elections, three sets of Obamacare-related campaigns are in full gear. The first is seen in electoral contests around the country. The second is a campaign of disinformation and no information being conducted by the Obama administration and its Department of Health and Human Services. The third is a concerted establishment press effort to give cover to Democratic Party candidates no matter what position they take on Obamacare, and to minimize the exposure the administration's deliberate acts of non-transparency receive.
All three campaigns came together in a Monday morning Associated Press report by Bill Barrow and Josh "Lapdog" Lederman. The two reporters avoided any mention of the fact that the administration has decided to "halt" monthly Obamacare enrollment reporting, while giving cover to Democratic Senate candidates around the country who haven't yet figured out how much distance to put between themselves, Obamacare, and President Barack Obama himself (bolds are mine throughout this post):
The press continues its disinterested fiddling while the royal mess known as Obamacare burns through money and exhausts the patience of those attempting any kind of oversight.
One of the more obvious examples of this is how the Washington Post's May 17 story on errors in calculating Obamacare subsidies has gone absolutely nowhere. About one-third of the 20 results returned in a Google News search on "healthcare subsidies" (not in quotes) at 11 p.m. ET Friday evening were partial reprints or rewrites of the original story by WaPo reporters Amy Goldstein and Sandhya Somashekhar. Most of the remaining results were from center-right outlets, while a few came from medical sites. The results didn't change much when searching on "health care" instead of "healthcare." What the WaPo pair reported is a breathtaking cacophony of incompetence which, as Heritage noted last year, won't even "solve" itself when Obamacare enrollees file their 2014 tax returns. Goldstein and Somashekhar also missed an opportunity to make a fundamental point, which is that everyone who has enrolled has some exposure.
PORTSTEWART, Northern Ireland -- President Obama Wednesday replayed a familiar scenario when dealing with scandal, in this case delays for treatment, deaths, alleged cover-ups and other acts of malfeasance reported at Veterans Administration hospitals in the United States: first express outrage, next announce an investigation and then say he won't comment on the scandal until the results of the investigation are in, promising people will be held "accountable," if they violated the law. Good luck with that.
Meanwhile, critics are using the VA scandal to indict Obamacare. They believe what is occurring at VA hospitals is a preview of coming destruction should the U.S. government move beyond meddling in health insurance into a full-scale takeover of the entire health care system.
These critics need only look across the Atlantic at the United Kingdom's crumbling National Health Service (NHS) as a glaring example of the dysfunction that results when government runs health care. For years, as is the case with VA hospitals, NHS horror stories have abounded, reported dutifully by the British press. These include neglect of elderly patients, long waiting times (like the VA) to see a doctor and longer waits for necessary surgery, which the government in some cases denies based on cost, age of patient and unusually high numbers of deaths at some hospitals.
The VA could learn from what occurred at Hinchingbrooke hospital in Cambridgeshire, England. As reported by the Daily Mail, as recently as two years ago, Hinchingbrooke had a deficit of $16.8 million a year; it ranked 102nd in the country in admission waiting time; charged $67 to park, with fines for overstaying, and in what sounds like the punch line to a joke, took one week to change a light bulb.
Today, the hospital is due to break even. A surplus is expected next year. Hinchingbrooke has zoomed up in ranking to number 20 in the country in waiting time. Parking now costs $4.21 with fines scrapped. Minor maintenance problems are dealt with in one day.
How was Hinchingbrooke, an NHS hospital, miraculously transformed? It was turned over to a private firm. Once described as a "basket case," the hospital is now ranked number one in patient satisfaction.
A key to its healing, reports The Daily Mail, was "loosening the grip of managers and accountants." A majority of board members, once bean counters and bureaucrats, are now clinicians. "Doctors, nurses and admin(istrative) staff have also been put into small groups which have representatives who meet senior managers twice a month" to discuss problems. Patients are promised any complaints will be resolved within three weeks.
The Hinchingbrooke example should teach the VA something about privatization and what can happen when government tries to run a nation's entire health care system. Veterans who face long waits, or suffer from life-threatening conditions, should receive vouchers so they can be treated at private hospitals. Since, according to the White House, President Obama only "learned about" the VA scandal from TV news reports (though he spoke about them during the 2008 presidential campaign and was critical of President Bush for not fixing them), Congress must take the lead in offering treatment alternatives to veterans. Again, lack of money isn't the problem. Bureaucracy and incompetence are the problems.
Reforming VA hospitals should be a 2016 campaign theme all presidential candidates must address and they must then offer specific solutions. A quasi-government-private approach might work. It couldn't be worse than the current system.
The phrase uttered by President Abraham Lincoln, which is the motto of the Veterans Administration, must always be uppermost in our minds: "To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan."
Sadly, that goal is not being met. It must be. We owe veterans (and those we memorialize next Monday) our freedom. Perhaps what happened at Hinchingbrooke Hospital can guide the VA and veterans to a better future.
A day after President Obama finally reacted to the Veteran's Affair scandal after weeks of silence, NBC's Today could only manage a couple news briefs on the development, totaling forty-seven seconds. Meanwhile, the morning show devoted one minute and nineteen seconds to First Daughter Malia Obama learning to drive this summer.
ABC's Good Morning America at least provided a full report on the VA scandal, but edited out any criticism of Obama. On Wednesday's World News, correspondent Jim Avila included a soundbite from a family member of a veteran who died waiting for care who accused the President of "lying" about the scandal. However, that clip vanished from Avila's GMA report Thursday morning.
In discussing President Obama's Wednesday press conference on the Veterans Administration wait-list scandal, CNN's Drew Griffin, identified by the network's Jake Tapper as "the reporter who began this whole story with his investigation into the Phoenix VA," appeared to barely contain himself as he described the "disconnect between what's happening out here in the country and what the president is talking about."
Specifically, Griffin asserted that "this problem is real; it exists; it really doesn't have to be studied," and that "the vets I've been talking to wanted much more direct action." Griffin clearly expected a far more substantive and immediate response from Obama yesterday, and was disappointed that it didn't come. The video segment (via the Washington Free Beacon), a transcript, and Rush Limbaugh's insightful reaction follow the jump (bolds are mine throughout this post):
Wednesday's World News on ABC minimized any sense of the Obama administration's responsibility in the ongoing V.A. scandal, and spent the least amount of air time on the issue among the Big Three networks' evening newscasts. The program actually aired segments on pickpocketing and custom mobile homes than lasted about a half a minute longer each than their report on the scandal.
Diane Sawyer spotlighted how the President "weighed in – talking tough and talking action" on the "growing outrage over veterans hospitals." Jim Avila noted how multiple V.A. medical facilities in several states are now being investigated, and let the relative of deceased veteran decry the President's handling of the scandal. However, he didn't mention that the wait lists have been around for years – something that CBS Evening News mentioned in its coverage of the controversy: [MP3 audio from the ABC report available here; video below the jump]
During the Obama administration, the Associated Press has annually gone through the motions of noting its lack of transparency in responding to Freedom of Information Act requests. In March, its coverage of 2013 FOIA results led with the following sentence: "The Obama administration more often than ever censored government files or outright denied access to them last year under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, according to a new analysis of federal data." Then everyone went back to work defending the administration against the information seekers.
Part of that defense includes mischaracterizing the legal hurdles those who file FOIA requests must overcome to get the administration to do what it is legally required to do right off the bat. Three sentences from recent coverage of Judicial Watch's attempts to pry information out of the State Department will make my point.
Red Alert at the White House! How bad is the VA scandal? Bad enough to make even such as Sam Stein question liberalism. The VA scandal is getting so grievous for the Obama admin and for the liberal project at large that it has led even liberals to reconsider their most cherished ideological beliefs.
On today's Morning Joe, Sam Stein of the Huffington Post wondered "is liberalism, is progressivism, in this instance the right thing" given that the additional money the Obama admin spent on the VA has not yielded results? View the video after the jump.
Editor’s note: this article contains language some will find offensive.
The news that Veterans Affairs medical facilities had been lying about patient wait list times and delaying treating patients in a timely manner, to make their services appear better in reports to the government, is not new news, but it’s making headlines again. And this time, even the president’s fans are mad at the way the government under Obama has mistreated veterans. Continues after the video.
In a Monday evening report at the Associated Press, reporters Bill Barrow and Christina A. Cassidy did their best to try to minimize the impact of a politically disastrous dodge on the part of Georgia Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Michelle Nunn.
In a weekend interview with NBC, Nunn refused to say whether she would have voted for or against the Affordable Care Act in 2010, saying that "it’s impossible to look back retrospectively and say what would you have done if you were there." (And besides, she was working for a not-for-profit foundation at the time, so how could she know?) Additionally, Nunn got so rattled that she invented a new use for the word "architect" — as a verb: "I wished that we had more people who had tried to architect a bipartisan legislation." Clearly, the AP's Barrow and Cassidy were hoping for a real answer from Nunn. But they didn't get one. Not even close (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
Documents obtained by the Washington Times revealed that the Bush Administration warned the Obama Administration about problems within the Veterans Administration as early as 2008, yet both the ABC and NBC evening news broadcasts ignored the story on Monday, May 19.
Of the big three networks, only the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley covered the new revelations in the VA scandal. CBS News host Scott Pelley noted that “The Bush White House was so concerned about this back in 2008 that it warned the incoming Obama Administration.” [See video below.]
At first liberals were blaming Republican governors for "sabotaging" Obamacare as an excuse for its failure. However as Obamacare failure reports poured in from liberal states with liberal governors such as Oregon, Massachusetts, and Maryland, a new excuse was desperately needed. And now Sarah Kliff of General Electric Vox reports on the latest Obamacare failure excuse: lousy management.
According to this excuse, the incredibly complex 2000 plus page Obamacare law along with its nearly 11000 pages of regulations are not at fault. No, the real problem as Kliff reports lies in the management. This latest liberal talking point comes to us via one of the usual suspects, the Center for American Progress:
A search at 11:00 p.m. ET tonight at the Associated Press's national web site on "Serco," the company with a five-year, $1.25 billion contract to process paper Obamacare enrollment applications, returned no results. That's absolutely pathetic, given that St. Louis TV station KMOV, based on multiple accounts from several current and former employees and contractors, has reported that the company has well over 1,000 people doing almost nothing all day simply because there are very few paper applications to process. KMOV, which carried five consecutive reports this week (here, here, here, here, and here), even noted in its later segments that its work had drawn national attention.
What's worse than AP not covering the story nationally? How about the wire service treating it as a local and regional story, even though Serco and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are wasting roughly $20 million per month of U.S. taxpayers' money, and even though calls for investigation have come from U.S. senators in at least two states? It would have been just as absurd if AP had treated bankrupt Solyndra, which failed to repay an Energy Department loan of over $500 million several years ago, as a California-only story because that's where its plant was. Excerpts from the AP's story, including a "This story is boring, so don't read it" headline, follow the jump (bolds are mine):
Friday's World News on ABC mentioned the ongoing scandal surrounding the Veterans Administration only in passing, despite the fact their own chief White House correspondent, Jonathan Karl, hounded Press Secretary Jay Carney at the regular White House press briefing on the issue. Meanwhile, they set aside two full segments totaling seven minutes and 54 seconds of air time to Barbara Walters' departure from The View.
Diane Sawyer gave a 30-second news brief to a new development in the scandal – about one-sixteenth the amount of time that she and her newscast spent on Walters: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
In the 9 a.m. ET hour on Friday, NBC's Today provided only 26 seconds to another major change to ObamaCare that news anchor Natalie Morales acknowledged "may end up costing you thousands of dollars out of pocket." Neither ABC's Good Morning America nor CBS This Morning bothered to mention the development, which was reported overnight by the Associated Press.
Morales explained: "The Obama administration has given the go-ahead for a new cost-control strategy, it's called reference pricing. It lets insurers and employers put a dollar limit on what health plans pay for some expensive procedures such as knee and hip replacements. Some experts worry that undercuts financial protections in the new health care law." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Today White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough kept defending the record of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinkseki over his handling of the Veterans Administration hospitals scandal on CNN's The Lead. Finally an increasingly agitated Jake Tapper grew frustrated with the excuses until he exploded in anger: "How Many Dead Veterans Do You Need?"
It was an all too familiar administration two-step but the normally mild-mannered Tapper wasn't going to have any of it. In the dramatic video below the jump, you can see a clearly upset Tapper finally lash out at McDonough.
During a four-minute interview with Athena Health CEO Jonathan Bush on Thursday's CBS This Morning about his new book, Where Does It Hurt?, suggesting reforms to the health care system, none of the hosts bothered to bring up ObamaCare or its failures. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Bush, nephew of former President George H.W. Bush and cousin of former president George W. Bush, even provided the perfect opportunity to bring up President Obama's health care law, warning against "another great top-down fix" of the industry and instead wanting to "invite entrepreneurs to come into health care."
Chris Cuomo sparred with Senator Bernie Sanders on Thursday's New Day on CNN over the left-wing politician's scheduled hearing with Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki regarding the V.A. hospitals scandal, where scores of veterans died as they waited for care. Cuomo pointed out that "the mandate for Shinseki when he was put in...was that we knew there were big lapses at the V.A. that had to be addressed, and you could argue they have not been. Isn't it time for accountability?"
When Sanders tried to shift the issue to a critique of CNN's coverage of the scandal, the anchor shot back at the Vermont senator for sounding like an apologist for the government-run health care system: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
"Faith first, government second for GOP candidate," blares a teaser headline on MSNBC.com. They say that like it's a bad thing.
Of course, to MSNBC it is, when religious freedom objections stand opposed to ObamaCare, so MSNBC.com writer Morgan Whitaker sought to explain to Lean Forward partisans all the ways that Ben Sasse is supposedly a danger to civil society, including a ludicrous suggestion that his views could allow for establishment of Sharia law (excerpt below; emphasis mine):
The government is paying private contractor Serco $1.2 billion over five years — and likely more, as will be seen later — to process paper Obamacare applications. In turn, according to a report by television station KMOV, Serco has hired and continues to pay a reported 1,800 workers who have virtually no work to do.
Massive waste like this should develop into a national story and create a journalistic swarm. If it does, it will be unusual, because the press has been avoiding stories which make President Barack Obama's "signature accomplishment" of state-controlled health care look bad like the plague. We'll see if it's different this time. The KMOV report follows the jump (HT Gateway Pundit's Progressives Today blog):