As the Media Research Center's latest Media Reality Check details, over the past year, the media have served as cheerleaders for ObamaCare, praising the proposed legislation, while continually slamming its critics.
As Congress moves closer to a final vote on the bill in the coming days, it's a good time to take a look back at the friendly spin that has dominated the airwaves in support of it, as well as the harsh attacks that have been launched against its opponents.
Here is a video compilation with just a sampling of some of the slanted coverage from the past 12 months.
ABC's George Stephanopoulos on Thursday lobbied Representative Jason Altmire, a Democrat who is undecided on the health care legislation, over what it will take "to change your vote from no to yes." The former Democratic operative turned journalist pressed for details: "Well, the House bill was about, what, $950 billion. The Senate bill came in about $875 billion. What number do you need to see?"
Stephanopoulos chided Altmire over whether he was ready to take down Obama's presidency. Citing another Democrat who changed sides, he argued, "You know, yesterday, when Congressman Kucinich said he was switching from no to yes, he said one of the factors guiding his vote was the fact that if this went down, it would cripple President Obama's presidency. How big a factor is that for you?"
The ABC anchor even concocted a hypothetical situation in which Altmire held the key to everything: "Okay, Congressman, it's Sunday afternoon. The vote's been called. The clock has run out. The Democrats are stuck at 215 yes votes. Speaker Pelosi comes up to you on the floor. The President gets you on the phone and says, 'It is all up to you.' Can you imagine voting no under those circumstances?"
Yesterday the Associated Press and Newsweek latched onto a pro-ObamaCare letter circulated by a left-wing group and signed by 59 nuns. Today, liberal Washington Post columnist and practicing Catholic E.J. Dionne took to the op-ed page to encourage House Democrats to "listen to the nuns."
Dionne ably expressed the sentiments of perhaps many a liberal journalist giddy over the news:
House members voting on health care will be representing primarily their positions as Americans and as agents of their constituents, though many will also be influenced by their faith. Those with a special affection for the Roman Catholic Church have an extra reason for voting in favor of the health bill.
By passing it, they would save the bishops from the moral opprobrium that would rightly fall upon them if they succeeded in killing the best chance we have to extend health coverage to 30 million Americans. I suspect that many bishops would be quietly grateful. In their hearts, they know the nuns are right.
But today, National Review's Kathryn Jean Lopez noted another group of nuns that probably won't get as much, if any, media coverage precisely because they stand with the nation's Catholic bishops with their concerns about inadequate protection for the unborn in the legislation before Congress.
Near the end of the 10AM ET hour on MSNBC Thursday, anchor David Shuster criticized Fox News anchor Bret Baier for having "interrupted the President numerous times" in a "contentious" and "heated" Wednesday interview. Shuster later accused the network of bias: "Fox is far more – far more conservative overall than MSNBC could ever be liberal."
Shuster brought on left-wing Mother Jones editor David Corn and David Freddoso of the Washington Examiner to discuss Baier's interview with Obama. He asked Corn if Baier's questioning was "inappropriate," Corn didn't think so, but joked: "I was just disappointed overall, though, because there were no questions about where the President was born." Freddoso thought Baier got "bogged down" asking the President about the controversial 'deem and pass' procedure possibly being used to pass ObamaCare.
Turning to Freddoso, Shuster cited former White House Communications Director Anita Dunn claiming that Fox News is the "communications arm of the Republican Party." Freddoso discounted that criticism: "You can call names and sling mud. I mean, Fox News definitely – it has more of a center-right perspective than MSNBC, which generally has more of a center-left, political perspective." Prompting Shuster to reply: "But the difference is that – and I've worked at both places – and you can find this from every sort of media analyst who's objective, Fox is far more – far more conservative overall than MSNBC could ever be liberal. It's not a question of their – one's five points to the right and one's five points to the left. It's not like that at all."
Finally! A reporter who stands up to the media's Chosen One and isn't afraid to ask the tough questions.
Kudos to Bret Baier. He prepared for a difficult interview and came right out of the gate asking the questions that matter most to the millions of Americans protesting government takeover of health care. Other networks have had this opportunity in innumerable interviews, but Fox has proved itself to be the only network willing and capable of showing backbone and doing their journalistic duty.
How have the left-wing media reacted? While they should hang their head in humiliation for making the fair, hard questions in this interview monumental, they have instead criticized Baier's interview as ‘contentious,' as if it's unprofessional for a journalist to deviate from lapdoggery.
And we wonder why America has chosen Fox News Channel over the competition time and time again.
"Hot on the heels of Kucinich's declaration of support for health-care reform, the Associated Press is reporting that Catholic nuns are urging Democratic lawmakers to support health-care reform," Newsweek's Katie Connolly informed readers of the magazine's The Gaggle blog this morning.
"This is a major break with the church's bishops, who have strongly opposed the legislation on the grounds that some federal subsidies may end up funding abortions," Connolly gushed, later closing her blog post with the conclusion that "[a]t the very least, the letter damages the validity of [pro-life Democrat Rep. Bart] Stupak's argument."
Both Connolly's post and the underlying AP story failed to delve into this, but the letter in question was not simply cobbled together by apolitical nuns. It was pushed out to the media by a group with a left-wing agenda, reports CatholicCulture.org:
It's no shock to rational, thinking people that healthcare legislation currently before Congress will do nothing to halt rising insurance premiums, but that the folks at the Associated Press would come to such a conclusion AND write about it is quite surprising.
There it was in a piece published Wednesday called, "FACT CHECK: Premiums would rise under Obama plan."
Readers are strongly encouraged to fasten seatbelts tightly, for they're about to enter what has to be an alternate universe (h/t Ed Morrissey):
“Based on some mild and indiscernible shouts by people in a hallway outside the office of a House member,” NewsBusters noted Tuesday night, “CBS's Chip Reid tried to discredit anti-ObamaCare protesters,” claiming the Tea Party activists “tried to lobby undecided Democrats. At times, it got ugly.” (Watch the video to assess the commotion Reid characterized as “ugly.”)
But in today's Politico newspaper, Marin Cogan relayed how “staff members for Democrats reported orderly, even polite conversations with protesters.” In her article, “Dems play nice with tea partiers,” Marin not only did not cite any ugliness, she discovered the protesters were so calm that they were actually bored by them: “'It was like a high school classroom,' an aide to one lawmaker who hosted tea partiers noted glumly. 'It was so boring.'”
"[H]ypocrisy is a well-established parliamentary procedure," Tumulty noted in her March 17 Swampland blog post before contrasting the Hoyer of 2010 to the in-the-minority-party Hoyer of 2003 who decried "deem and pass" as "demeaning of democracy" and cautioned that its prior use should not excuse the practice in the future (emphases mine):
2010: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer on the idea of passing health care with a self-executing rule:
The House Democratic leader, Representative Steny H. Hoyer, also defended the maneuver on Tuesday. “It is consistent with the rules,” Mr. Hoyer said. “It is consistent with former practice.”
2003: House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer complaining about the Republicans' use of self-executing rules:
NBC's Kelly O'Donnell, on Wednesday's Today, advanced the NBC company line on the results of a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll on Obamacare as she reported "Americans are evenly divided." O'Donnell, of course, was merely following the lead of her NBC News colleague Brian Williams, who on Tuesday's Nightly News, ignored the most negative news from the survey, as the MRC's Brent Baker noted:
"By a 12 point margin, those asked, in a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey, called 'Barack Obama's health care plan' a 'bad idea' (48 percent) over a 'good idea' (36 percent.) Yet, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams on Tuesday evening skipped that verdict as he declared 'people are evenly split' on 'the President's health care reform plan.'"
Fast forward to this morning's Today show and O'Donnell also bypassed that interesting tidbit as seen in the following excerpt from the March 17 Today show:
But have the media completely dropped the ball and that is allowing those in power to circumvent constitutional process? According to Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., they have. She had some harsh words for the fourth estate on conservative talker Sean Hannity's March 16 radio show. (h/t Kevin Eder)
"Well yeah and the other thing is treason media," Bachmann said. "Where is the mainstream media in all of this not telling this story? This is a compelling story - that the Speaker of the House would even consider having us pass a bill that no one votes on?"
By a 12 point margin, those asked, in a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey, called “Barack Obama’s health care plan” a “bad idea” (48 percent) over a “good idea” (36 percent.) Yet, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams on Tuesday evening skipped that verdict as he declared “people are evenly split” on “the President’s health care reform plan.” From the accompanying graphic, viewers could learn Williams was referring to what people say about enacting it: “pass” (46 percent) vs “don’t pass” (45 percent).
The actual question presented a stark alternative of endorsing the status quo: “Do you think it would be better to pass Barack Obama’s health care plan and make its changes to the health care system or to not pass this plan and keep the current health care system?” Yet the one-point gap was the closest-ever in the poll as “better to not pass this plan, keep current system” grew to 45 percent from 39 percent last September, a trend neither Williams nor Chuck Todd pointed out.
Williams did highlight how “most people tell us they don’t approve of the way President Obama has handled the health care issue, but,” he couldn’t resist adding, “they disapprove of how Republicans in Congress have handled it by an even wider margin.” (This post updated below with response from Todd.)
It's certainly not business as usual in Washington, D.C., but that's probably not what the American people had in mind when they elected President Barack Obama to come to the White House and usher in a new era of change.
"I think the process is well tainted by now," Hume said. "This is a case where in the face of a level of resistance that I have never seen before, in the sense on a bill that the sponsors continue to push, I've never seen anything pushed this far for this long in the face of such resistance of this size. This is unprecedented."
On CNN's American Morning today, anchor John Roberts pressed one of President Barack Obama's talking points on the Democratic health care plan. Roberts talked with former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, who opposes ObamaCare. Currently the chairman of FreedomWorks, Armey criticized "the audacity of the government mandating to the American people: you must all buy a product that I define for you." Then Roberts went to work:
ROBERTS: But why is it mandate for having health insurance a bad thing? There's a mandate for having car insurance.
ARMEY: Well, first of all, you have to understand, America is a nation that was founded on the concept of personal liberty, that liberty is a gift given to mankind by the Lord God Almighty and it's the duty of governments to protect your liberty.
ROBERTS: Do you have car insurance?
ARMEY: Not to trespass against your liberty.
ROBERTS: Do you have car insurance?
ARMEY: Do I have car insurance? Of course, I have car insurance.
Based on some mild and indiscernible shouts by people in a hallway outside the office of a House member, CBS's Chip Reid on Tuesday night tried to discredit anti-ObamaCare protesters, claiming “at times, it got ugly.”
Reid recounted: “Outside the Capitol, a few hundred members of the conservative Tea Party movement called on Congress to kill the Democratic health care reform bill as Republicans urged them to keep fighting.” Following a clip of Republican Congressman Mike Pence, Reid announced over the hallway video: “Moving inside, they tried to lobby undecided Democrats. At times, it got ugly.” Then, leading into pro and con TV ads, Reid asserted: “The angry war of words over health care reform in Washington is echoing across the nation.” Watch the video to see what CBS considers “ugly” behavior. (MP3 audio clip.)
After citing “a growing controversy over a parliamentary maneuver the Speaker may use to get reform passed,” Katie Couric had introduced Reid by maintaining that “as a vote nears, the tension, confusion, and anger are all building.” Reid agreed: “The closer we get to a vote, the nastier the debate becomes. Some on Capitol Hill say it gives new meaning to the expression 'March Madness.'”
On Tuesday's Situation Room, CNN's Jack Cafferty returned to targeting Nancy Pelosi, this time for endorsing the controversial "Slaughter Solution" to passing ObamaCare through the House of Representatives without a vote. Cafferty labeled the proposal "beyond sleazy," and later flatly remarked, "This reeks!" The commentator even gave some rare kudos to House Republicans [audio clips from the segment available here].
Cafferty devoted his 5 pm Eastern hour commentary to Pelosi's support for the "deem and pass" procedural maneuver that Democratic Representative Louise Slaughter submitted as a possible way of getting the Senate version of health care "reform" passed through the House. He wasted little time in expressing his amazement at the move: "Just when you think you've seen it all in Washington, along comes something like this. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi may try to pass the controversial health care reform bill without making members vote on it- simply unbelievable."
CBS “Early Show” host Harry Smith used the top of the broadcast today to transmit liberal talking points on health care reform without bringing on a single conservative to articulate opposition.
First, CBS Senior White House Correspondent Bill Plante’s glowing description of the benefits of passing health care reform went unchallenged:
It is expected to increase assistance for lower income people to afford health care, increase federal funding for the Medicaid program, and raise prescription drug benefits under Medicare. If the bills are signed into law, they would immediately forbid insurers from setting limits on dollar coverage or canceling policies in most cases. Children could then remain on their parents' insurance until age 26. In 2014, most Americans would be required to carry health insurance. There would be a health insurance exchange and insurers would then not be able to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions. But meanwhile, the heat is really on. The President has been holding some one-on-one meetings with freshman House Democrats to try to persuade them. They are the people most vulnerable to the pressures to get this bill passed.
MSNBC host David Shuster on Tuesday demonstrated his condescension for conservative tea party activists, deriding protesters who had arrived in Washington as "far right" and "going nuts." Talking to reporter Richard Wolffe, he chided, "I mean, what does the White House make of the opposition on the far right?" [Audio available here.]
Later in the day, Shuster showed video of demonstrators who oppose the health care bill and dismissed, "Tea partiers are going nuts over the process Nancy Pelosi may use to pass the bill, even though it's the same process Republicans used when they were in power."
In the 10am hour, the MSNBC anchor talked to Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar. He brought up the very unusual parliamentary tactics that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has threatened to use. But, Shuster didn't seem particularly concerned with questions of the constitutionality of the so-called deem and pass measure. Instead, the journalist fretted about the "very pugnacious, very aggressive" tone of the protesters.
Perfectly timed for the week President Barack Obama is pushing the House to vote on ObamaCare, on tonight’s (Tuesday) episode of CBS’s The Good Wife, set at a Chicago law firm, the lawyers “battle a health insurance company that refuses to pay for urgent in-utero surgery.” The CBS.com plug for the March 16 episode: “In an emergency courtroom set up in a hospital, Alicia and Will battle Patti Nyholm and an insurance company that refuses to pay for life-saving in-utero surgery.”
So, I’ll hold out hope this episode will deliver more than just simplistic vilification of an insurance company and might, given the plot involves “in-utero surgery,” also forward pro-life perspectives. Watch and see.
That famous line from the movie "Marathon Man" comes to mind when considering the attitude of Ohio Congressman Zack Space about ObamaCare. Back in January, after Space caught heat for voting for the House version of ObamaCare in November, he decided it was safe to "boldly" express his opposition to the Senate bill on the heels of Nancy Pelosi declaring it DOA at the time. Here is what Space had to say in January as recorded in your humble correspondent's NewsBusters blog:
U.S. Rep. Zack Space said Thursday he plans to oppose the health care bill passed by the U.S. Senate.
He made the announcement shortly after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told the national media she didn't think she had the votes to pass the bill.
While ABC and CBS on Monday night focused on President Barack Obama's “final push” for his health care bill and the plight of Ohioan Natoma Canfield, Obama's poster woman for victims of rising health insurance premiums, NBC anchor Brian Williams touted how at “one last campaign-style rally,” in suburban Cleveland, “a shout-out from the audience gave him a chance to road test a new catch phrase: 'We need courage.'”
Viewers saw a clip of Obama bemoaning “a lot of hand-wringing going on” in Washington, DC, interrupted by a woman's voice from the audience at the Walter F. Ehrnfelt Recreation and Senior Center in Strongsville: “We need courage!” To cheers, a delighted Obama picked up on her prompt: “We need courage. That's why I came here today. We need courage!”
If “courage” as a catch phrase sounds familiar, it's the one word with which Dan Rather ended his newscasts in the mid-1980s, an ending he resurrected on Wednesday, March 9, 2005 when he signed-off forever from the CBS Evening News. (MRC CyberAlert item)
Good Morning America's Jake Tapper on Monday interviewed a woman selected by the White House to represent victims of the health care industry. Tapper emphasized the sad case of Natoma Canfield, a cancer victim who "had to drop her Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield insurance because her monthly premiums kept skyrocketing." Yet, the ABC correspondent provided no horror stories from those who deal with government-run health care.
He explained, "The President has been trying to tell [Canfield's] story to the nation." Obama mentioned Canfield in his campaign-style speech in Ohio to promote the health care legislation. However, back in February, neither Tapper, nor ABC spotlighted the case of Danny Williams, the premier of the Canadian province of Newfoundland.
On February 25, writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, staff writer Sally Pipes informed that Mr. Williams "traveled to the United States earlier this month to undergo heart valve surgery at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami." She added, "With his trip, Williams joined a long list of Canadians who have decided that they prefer American medicine to their own country's government-run health system when their lives are on the line."
The Associated Press's timing couldn't have been better for those who still want to pretend that Social Security is really not in serious trouble. Stephen Ohlemacher's item ("Social Security to start cashing Uncle Sam's IOUs") originally appeared on Sunday, in the midst of most of the major college basketball conference tournament championships, then followed by the evening's announcement of the selections for the NCAA Division I Men's basketball tournament. (The AP has issued minor revisions several times since its original appearance, up to and including today.)
The wire service's timing, while convenient for the Washington establishment, as it minimizes the possibility of distractions from its statist health care obsession, couldn't have been worse for those of us who wish the American people would get a grip on the gravity of the situation -- which is why I saved this post for today.
What is about to occur is the event that as little as a year ago, according to the Social Security Trustees' 2009 Report, wasn't expected to arrive until 2016. Ohlemacher tells us that it's right here, right now, and gets the reporting right until his seventh paragraph (bolds are mine):
The White House may have to waterboard its congressional allies to compel enough Democrats to support the health care bill and Congress will definitely have to raise taxes if the bill passes, insisted Bob Schieffer, host of Face the Nation on CBS, this morning on The Early Show. [Audio available here.]
As liberals focus on extending coverage to millions of uninsured Americans, Schieffer departed from the liberal talking points by pointing out that the current bill would definitely force Congress to raise taxes.
“These Democrats don’t know yet how much this bill is going to cost, they don’t know exactly who’s going to pay the taxes—there is no question some taxes are going up on this,” he said.
The end of Congress’s long debate over ObamaCare could be near, as the President pushes for a final vote this week before his Asia trip, and House Democrats want a resolution before next week’s Easter break.
Yet whether or not liberals’ dreams are ultimately realized, they have had a huge advantage throughout the process. Over the past twelve months, journalists have continually stacked the deck in favor of a big government takeover of health care.
And delivering that response was "The O'Reilly Factor" host Bill O'Reilly, who called his show "the signature broadcast" of the network. O'Reilly dismissed Raines as a lunatic. However he was also critical of The Washington Post for giving him an outlet to trot out his ranting.
"[I] think there is a more important thing in play here," O'Reilly said. "The Washington Post has given this guy Raines a big platform on Sunday, this coming Sunday, to print this nonsense and it is nonsense. If Raines were sitting here I could carve him up and he, Raines knows it."
But O'Reilly questioned why the Post had decided to give Raines the space in its upcoming March 14 issue to rip on his network. According to O'Reilly, this was an effort to rally the media for a last stand.
So much for the MSM refrain about Republicans having previously used reconciliation just as Dems are proposing to do now on ObamaCare . . .
Larry O'Donnell has emphatically proclaimed that the way Dems intend to use reconciliation is "unprecedented" and has "never, never, never" been so used before. O'Donnell's many off-his-meds rants notwithstanding [recent example here], he actually does understand the legislative process, having served as Dem Chief of Staff of the Senate Committee on Finance back in the HillaryCare day.
O'Donnell also criticized the MSM "group think" to the effect that Dems were obliged to pass some kind of health care legislation this year. Larry's uncharacteristically lucid observations came during his Morning Joe appearance today. [H/t reader Mike K.]
Let's see... The author of the bizarre solution to avoid a direct vote in the House of Representatives on the Senate ObamaCare bill is Congresswoman Louise Slaughter. Yet, to call it a "Slaughter Solution" is somehow an unfair Republican tactic. Such is the assertion of Brian Montopoli at the CBS Political Hotsheet:
The Republican Party already has plenty of evocative phrases with which to hammer the health care reform effort: "Government takeover," "ram down our throats," "job-killing monstrosity."
Now House Republican Leader John Boehner's office has come up with perhaps the most striking entry yet: "Slaughter Solution."
Good Morning America's Jake Tapper on Thursday forced a completely unrelated rant by Patrick Kennedy into a story entirely on health care. Tapper pivoted off a statement by Senator Mitch McConnell that legislation on the subject is a "farce." He then spun, "For one Democrat, the force driving that farce- the media- who earned the scorn of Democratic Congressman Patrick Kennedy for focusing away from substance."
Tapper then played a clip of the Rhode Island Representative screaming, "If anyone wants to know where cynicism is, cynicism is that there's one, two, press people in this gallery! We're talking about Eric Massa, 24/7 on the TV! It's despicable, the national press corps right now!" Watching this, viewers would be led to believe Kennedy was talking about health care. He wasn't.
The Congressman was actually yelling about a bill that was voted down in Congress which would have brought the troops home from Afghanistan. The Tapper segment even edited out the part where Kennedy's topic became clear: "We're talking about war and peace! Three billion dollars! A thousand lives!" Are journalists so interested in self flagellating over a liberal congressman's criticism that they would force Kennedy's remarks into a totally unrelated story?