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."
What good is the liberal media's "truth squadding" or "fact-checking" when it doesn't reveal any facts and is completely divorced from the truth?
MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell gave a stark answer to that question this morning, when she appeared on "Morning Joe" to discuss yesterday's health care summit. O'Donnell heaped praise on the President for being "in command of some of the facts", like the "fact" that premiums would decline 10-13 percent under his plan. If she had actually looked at the CBO report she was citing, however, she would know that the plan is expected to raise, not lower, premiums for individuals by 10-13 percent.
So for all her "truth-squadding" and "fact-checking", O'Donnell is still confused about the difference between up and down. Either that, or she didn't truth-squad or fact-check anything, but simply said what she wanted to believe. Maybe she should spend less time devising her awkward hyphenated verbs , and more actually examining the facts.
Conservative dominance of the talk radio airwaves continues, but liberals are making concerted efforts to get their voices heard through large top-down campaigns.
Organizing for America--the campaign arm of the Obama administration--is rolling out the astroturf in an effort to get liberal voices heard on the nation's most popular (i.e. conservative) talk radio shows. The campaign is called "On the Air."
Visitors at radio.barackobama.com (talk about grassroots!) are provided with a phone number of a conservative talk radio show, and a list of health care talking points. They are instructed to call when health care comes up and reissue these points for the benefit of that station's audience.
OFA makes sure to note that the talking points are "only to provide extra information and suggestions." Tell that to Ellie Light.
Although the Canadian health care system may kind of work for its roughly 33 million people and still have a myriad of downsides, its hard to imagine it could be sustainable in the United States, with 304 million people. But looking at the Canadian system was how NBC News decided to handle its follow-up to the health care summit.
"As Washington grapples with its seemingly irreconcilable differences over health care, here in Canada that question was settled decades ago," Williams said. "Canada has universal health insurance, what's known in the U.S. as a single-payer system. Who's to say it's a better way?"
Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos on Friday offered liberal spin for the issue of using reconciliation to pass the health care bill, a process that would allow legislation to go through the Senate with only 51 votes: "Reconciliation has been used for President Bush's tax cuts, for welfare reform, for other health care bills in the past." [Audio available here.]
Stephanopoulos' guest, John McCain, quickly dismissed this obvious talking point: "George, it's not been used for one-sixth of the Gross National Product."The ex-Clinton aide turned journalist also promoted the idea that Barack Obama has been bipartisan on the health care divide. He challenged the Arizona Senator, "But, the President said you had a point there. He also said he was willing to work with Republicans on malpractice reform, on health savings."
Before playing a clip of Obama at the health care summit, Stephanopoulos defended, "And all he closed with was a plea for Republicans to look at his ideas." Interestingly in the 8am hour, Stephanopoulos let his pessimistic view of the future of the health care legislation be known.
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."
"Are we on seven-second delay?"--Mark Halperin on Morning Joe, prefacing his criticism of Pres. Obama's performance at the health-care summit.
Halperin was surely being facetious, but the point about MSNBC's pro-Obama predilection was made.
The Time editor went on to rather comprehensively pan PBO's petulant performance. His comments were preceded by a clip of Pres. Obama rudely reminding Sen. John McCain of just who had won the presidential election.
A Tuesday night NewsBusters post, “Ed Schultz Uses Cheney's Heart Attack to Push Healthcare Reform,” riled Ed Schultz, the Radio Equalizer noticed. On his Wednesday radio show, a laughing Schultz mocked NewsBusters (“I just want all of you to know that I get my entertainment through NewsBusters”) and derided “some little weasel” at NewsBusters before he graphically reaffirmed using Cheney's heart attack to score a political point:
You're damn right, Dick Cheney's heart's a political football. We ought to rip it out and kick it around and stuff it back in him. I'm glad he didn't tip over. He is the new poster child for health care in this country.
“The President often seemed exasperated with Republican arguments,” CBS's Chip Reid empathetically conveyed in reporting on Thursday's health care policy summit before he declared that President Obama had achieved what he needed to accomplish:
Well, he really did, Katie. What he really wanted to do was convince the American people, and more importantly wavering Democrats in Congress, that the Republicans are the party of no. They won't compromise and he now has no choice but to move ahead with Democrats alone.
On ABC, anchor Diane Sawyer led with what she described as “a landmark event today, a televised political duel.” Echoing Reid's assessment of Obama's “exasperation,” Jake Tapper saw “from the Republicans, some old arguments and new frustrations for the President.” George Stephanopoulos decided Obama had “reinforced his bipartisan bonafides, showed that he was reaching out.”
Parting with Reid, however, Stephanopoulos considered it an “honorable draw” since “both sides...gained something” as “Republicans were able to show they had real substantive ideas, there are just differences about how to achieve health care reform in this country.”
There are always unintended consequences. And with the negotiations taking place at Blair House between the White House and members of Congress in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 25 - that's what appears to be occurring.
On Fox News Channel's Feb. 25 "America Live with Megyn Kelly," medical contributor Dr. Marc Siegel explained some of the myths surrounding the proposed political solutions for health care in the United States. He started with tort reform and explained the trial lawyers have their hands in how this tort reform is done.
"You know 37 states already have tort reform," Siegel said. "That's one of these political solutions that doesn't make any sense - the same as today's summit. The problem with tort isn't even the issue with caps. It's the issue of nuisance suits. Once a doctor has been to a lawyer's office and has their charts combed through, they feel raided. The way they practice medicine changes. They become more defensive. We got to get boards that cut down on nuisance suits. None of that is in the legislation. And if the American public is cynical it's because they know the trial lawyers association is preventing that."
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!
CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanja Gupta pressed HHS Secretary Kathleen for price controls in all parts of the health care industry on Thursday's Newsroom. Gupta stated that insurance companies were "just the tip of the iceberg" of health care costs: "There are a lot of different organizations, groups, people who contribute to health care costs. Are you going to be going after all these folks?" [audio clip available here]
It looked a bit odd for CNN to choose the correspondent, whom Obama chose to be surgeon general before adviser Tom Daschle was forced to resign, to interview other people who signed up to sell ObamaCare. Gupta's question came during an interview 26 minutes into the 9 am Eastern hour, in which both he and CNN anchor Kyra Phillips asked the Obama administration official about the health care summit later in the day at Blair House. Gupta also hinted at the possibility of going after the profits of health care suppliers in his last question to Sebelius (who was sympathetic to Gupta's proposal in her answer):
CNN apparently missed the irony of using a segment called "Broken Government" to demand that the government address child hunger.
"Talk about mad as hell," CNN's Kyra Phillips said, introducing the Feb. 25 segment. "Every day a child goes hungry, a food pantry struggles, a parent loses a job. Today: Broken Government and hunger in America."
Phillips suggested that the government should be involved in this problem saying, "We put in so much money to bailing out banks, bailing out big companies, yet every night a child here in our country goes hungry."
Even when Chris Matthews attempts to side with the conservative/Republican position on an issue, he ends up either bashing them or praising Democrats, something he did three times on Wednesday's Hardball.
First up Matthews raised a GOP concern that Barack Obama should not speak in an "elevated" position, by using a podium, at the health care summit because it would present Obama as "standing up there like God" over them. [audio available here]
Later on Matthews appeared to defend tea partiers when he scolded Salon's Joan Walsh for using the term "teabag" which has a "sexual connotation" but just moments earlier accused conservatives of "leaping up and down orgasmically" over Scott Brown's win.
Speaking to California Governor Arnold Schwarzengger on Thursday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith noted the success of the tea party movement, but spun it as a negative for the Republican Party: "There are winds of change blowing in the Republican Party. The tea party has met. There's a – it feels like a significant shift to the Right. Can the Republican Party exist without moderates?"
Prior to that, Smith asked if Schwarzenegger had any helpful advice for President Obama: "His approval ratings are dropping. He's under fire from all kinds of quadrants. If you're going to give him some advice as to how to stay his course, what would you tell him?" Schwarzenegger initially replied: "I don't think that...he needs advice from me." He then went on to praise the President's efforts on health care reform: "you have to give him credit for taking the risk. You have to give any leader credit for always going out on a limb and to go and fight for something."
Smith failed to wonder if Democrats could survive without moderates following the announced retirement of Indiana Senator Evan Bayh last week.
Republican leadership quickly condemned the plan, which relies heavily on the current Senate bill, as the same government takeover that had already been proposed. House GOP Leader John Boehner said the plan "crippled the credibility" of the upcoming summit.
In more than thirty stories the cable and network news media reacted by defending the White House against Boehner's claim by saying the plan was merely an "opening bid," consulting liberal politicians and outside groups like Brookings Institution, The Nation and Huffington Post, and by pushing Republicans to compromise and accept a bipartisan solution.
A night after ABC anchor Diane Sawyer demanded to know who will “keep insurance companies from jacking up premiums while making huge profits?”, on Wednesday night she again put ABC into service for the liberal spin machine the night before President Obama’s health summit, teasing: “Big insurance executives forced to answer why they're raising your premiums while raking in big profits.” World News devoted a full story to a hearing held by House Democrats to demonize WellPoint:
We turn to the growing outrage at insurance companies, the ones that raise premiums on ordinary Americans while racking up big profits. Today, executives of the company that insures the most Americans had to answer for big bonuses and lavish retreats while socking clients with a double-digit increase in fees.
ABC viewers were treated to demagogic Democrats railing against the salaries and profits of WellPoint. Then, as if it were a coincidence, Sawyer acknowledged “this anger erupts on the eve of President Obama's health care reform summit tomorrow.” (NBC also ran a story pegged to the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing, but sans the histrionics.)
Over on CBS, Katie Couric insisted Thursday would bring “that much-anticipated summit at the White House” to “try to save health care reform.” She began with “shades of the Paris peace talks,” ruing “Republicans have been arguing about the shape of the table and the seating arrangement.” Getting to the substance, Couric pleaded: “Does the President have any chance of reaching some kind of compromise with Republicans on health care reform?”
"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).
Appearing in the 3PM ET hour on MSNBC on Wednesday, Huffington Post writer Ryan Grim claimed that President Obama's latest version of health care reform was actually a conservative approach: "We actually already have a Republican bill, and it's the one that Obama has proposed....It's all about choice. Everything in it is a Republican kind of free market-based idea."
Speaking to anchor David Shuster, Grim continued his bizarre argument: "The idea that this is a Democratic bill, you know, that this is some left-wing plot, some government takeover that they're going to ram through the Senate, is the part that's the problem. This is a very centrist, leaning conservative health care reform bill."
The segment also featured Sally Pipes, author of "Top 10 Myths of American Health Care," who dismantled Grim's assertions: "I disagree with Ryan that this is a conservative blueprint that the President has put forward. It's very much not what the Republicans are talking about in terms of changing the tax code, portability, reducing mandates. What this is about is getting government more involved in our health care industry."
Good Morning America's Claire Shipman on Wednesday highlighted "enraged" and "livid" health care protesters, but mostly offered examples of angry liberals lobbying for a bill. After video of demonstrators chanting "Stop Blue Cross!" played, Shipman touted, "California demonstrators, livid over a huge increase in insurance rates."
The ABC reporter described the preparations for the upcoming health care summit between Republicans and Democrats and then trumpeted, "And an increasingly engaged and enraged public will be watching it all. Look at Anthem insurance after raising premiums 39 percent, they got those protests and a grilling from California lawmakers."
Regarding Thursday's health care face-off between Barack Obama and congressional Republicans, Shipman hyped preparations for the event as "reminiscent of a Cold War Kremlin summit." She didn't say which side was which, but the segment certainly featured very little of those opposing the health care bill.
Update further down in bold recounting thatHouse Democratic Whip James Clyburn once described health care reform as being part of "rectifying effects of past discrimination," which Chris Matthews referred to as "reparations."
On Tuesday’s Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann picked up on an item from the far left Media Matters for America to charge that conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh is "putting on his sheet" and "dropping any remaining pretense that the opposition to health care reform is not flat-out racism." Inspired by a quote in which Limbaugh used the terms "civil rights" and "reparations" while discussing health care reform with a caller, Olbermann began the segment on Limbaugh by recounting what he viewed as "race-baiting" against President Obama. Olbermann:
There is no mystery as to why President Obama has been accused more than any other recent Democratic President of being socialist, fascist, communist, take your pick. The ugliest surviving strain and stain in American politics is still race-baiting. But it`s particularly offensive when it surfaces so very blatantly. Maybe it is better this way, though. Rush Limbaugh has declared that the President`s health care reform package is a civil rights bill and constitutes reparations.
Advancing the Obama administration’s efforts to impugn private insurance companies, ABC anchor Diane Sawyer set up a Tuesday night story on who will “keep insurance companies from jacking up premiums while making huge profits?” Reporter Jonathan Karl explained “the idea from the White House is to keep premiums down by simply limiting how much insurance companies can raise them,” before he relayed the White House spin: “The Obama administration is putting the heat on insurance companies, accusing them of placing profits ahead of health care.”
Karl reported “the top five insurance companies took in $12 billion in profit last year,” as if that’s shameful or excessive, and gave short-shrift to how Republicans would control costs “with a limit on malpractice lawsuits, and increasing competition to allow people to buy insurance policies across state lines.”
He concluded by returning to the Obama team’s claims that their reform regime in itself would lower costs: “As for the White House idea to have that panel control how much insurance premiums can go up, the White House acknowledges that that is only part of the solution – in fact, a temporary fix until health care can go – health care reform can go fully into effect.”
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."
Former Democratic operative turned journalist George Stephanopoulos on Tuesday touted Barack Obama's health care talking points to Republican Eric Cantor. He even hyped a White House blog, marveling, "Well, the White House was up early this morning. Dan Pfeiffer, communications director, had a blog at 5am asking 'Will the Republicans post their health plan? And when?'"
Narrating the blog, Stephanopoulos continued, "He goes on to offer, 'We'll be happy to post the Republican plan on our website once they indicate to us which one we should post. We hope they won't pass up this opportunity to make their case to the American people.' So, will you take them up on that?"
The Republican Whip pointed out, "George, House Republicans have had a plan posted since the vote in the House in July." Indeed, the Republican plan can be found at GOP.gov. Considering that Stephanopoulos clearly reads White House blogs, shouldn't he at least glance at Republican postings?
President Obama’s health plan announced Monday is little more than the Senate bill with a new tax and federal price control regime, but ABC’s Diane Sawyer touted how “Obama today officially put forward his plan” and CBS’s Katie Couric hailed “a plan of his own,” though she pointed out “it includes no public option.” (In contrast, NBC’s Savannah Guthrie observed: “This new plan of the President's looks a lot like the old plan, just repackaged.”)
All three evening newscasts employed terminology congenial to Obama’s wish to interfere in the marketplace by trumpeting how Obama would “block insurance companies from unreasonable rate increases” while CBS and NBC both advanced Obama’s effort to disparage insurance companies by showcasing sympathetic victims of a health insurance rate hike – pregnant women.
Sawyer delivered a very innocuous summary: “It would give the government new power to control big hikes in insurance premiums, it would give a maximum of nearly $8,500 to a family of four to help them buy insurance and it would prevent insurers from denying coverage to anyone who's already sick or at risk of illness.”
On CBS, Couric segued to “a lot of anger about soaring insurance premiums” and reporter Ben Tracy found a woman “seven months pregnant” upset by a 35 percent hike. She scolded: “You have a right to make money but not at the expense of abusing other people.” NBC’s Guthrie noted “the White House has seized on a California company's decision to jack up rates 39 percent. This Redondo Beach mother was stunned.” Viewers then heard from the woman, near tears: “Do I go without insurance? Does my daughter go without insurance? What are we supposed to do?”
While discussing the Democrats' latest version of health care reform on Monday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith asked GOP strategist Ed Rollins: "Are the Republicans better off just saying let the Democrats burn in hell with this, we're going to stay on the sidelines and win the House back this fall?"
The segment also featured disgraced ex-New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, who Smith earlier asked about an upcoming health care summit: "...this whole notion that the Republicans were saying 'well, we might not show up, now Mitch McConnell over the weekend, the minority head of the Senate, says 'we're going come, but we think the Democrats are arrogant.' Is this doomed from the get-go?" Spitzer proclaimed: "the Democratic Party and the President know they must get something done. The internal discipline within the Democratic Party will be what makes this a success."
Spitzer later argued: "The Republican Party's been the party of no, the party of nihilism. The President should stand up and say 'here's what's good for America. We have the votes, we're willing to do it.'" Smith followed that logic: "So is this then the real test for the President?...To say 'I have control of the people in my party, I can do this thing and it will benefit the American people.' And in the end, push back to everything that's been pushing up against him?" Spitzer replied: "This is the moment when either he says we are leaders, we will get it done, or if they fail this time, then it really is debacle for the Democratic Party."
Good Morning America's Bill Weir on Sunday trumpeted Barack Obama for "keeping a campaign promise" to broadcast the health care debate on C-SPAN. Counting the upcoming televised summit between Republicans and Democrats on the issue as fulfillment, Weir gushed, "...The revolution will be televised."
He extolled the event, saying, "And for the first time, live in your living room, President Obama keeping a campaign promise set up by a televised summit to try to revive health care reform." Reporter David Kerley sounded a similar note, asserting, "With health care reform on life support, the President hopes to save his efforts with the transparency he promised as a candidate."
Of course, Barack Obama's promise was not that health care would be discussed on TV in vague terms, several months into the process. He pledged that the negotiations for the formation of the legislation would be broadcast on C-SPAN.