ABC News anchor Chris Cuomo conducted a hostile interview of RNC Chairman Michael Steele on Monday’s Good Morning America. Noting Steele hadn't used the term “death panel,” Cuomo asked if it was "a sign of positive progress." He also wondered why Steele wasn't bashing insurance companies, since when there is "excess in the system, it always comes back to the insurance companies."
The GMA anchor interviewed the RNC chairman 15 minutes into the 7 am hour. He zeroed in on Steele’s op-ed plugging a “Seniors’ Health Care Bill of Rights" which ran in the Washington Post on Monday. After Steele first summarized what was in the proposal, Cuomo brought up the hyped “death panel” term, which is a central part of the debate over ObamaCare:
“Now Mr. Steele, here in this health care bill of rights -- very interesting what is not here, the word ‘death panel’ is not anywhere in here. Is this a sign of positive progress, that we’re not going to talk about death panels anymore as a scare tactic?”
A well-known newspaper had this to say about writer Nat Hentoff upon his departure from the Villiage Voice at the end of 2008 after a 50-year run:
Across his 83 years, his three dozen books and his countless newspaper columns and magazine articles, Mr. Hentoff has championed free speech and opposed censorship of any kind, whether by liberals or conservatives. Few have more assiduously and consistently defended the right of people to express their views, no matter how objectionable.
The thing is that, agree with him or not, Nat Hentoff offers no opinion that isn’t supported by facts, diligently gathered.
Mr. Hentoff may not hear as well as he once did, or stand quite as straight. But he will not fade to silence.
You probably already knew Jeanane Garofalo was no fan of conservatives, Republicans or just about anything that could be described as right of center. But the former Air America host and MSNBC regular really has a low regard for conservative activists.
In a Friday story headlined "Britons Fault Health Service, Until Someone Else Does," Times London correspondent Sarah Lyall singled out Republican criticism of British health care, citing tiny protests, larger Twitter campaigns, and exercised editorials in The Economist magazine about "irresponsible distortions" by conservatives in America.
While Britons love to complain about waiting lists, disparities in treatment, "infection-breeding hospitals" and "top-heavy bureaucracy," they are seemingly unanimous in opposition to Obama critics:
They are furious, for example, that the health service is being held up as an example of the failures of socialized medicine by Americans opposed to President Obama’s health care proposals. On Wednesday, several dozen people rallied in front of the American Embassy in Grosvenor Square, holding up pro-N.H.S. signs.
With “Losing Support” as the on-screen heading, ABC's World News on Friday night certainly made clear how President Obama is losing favor with the American people as his approval level and attitudes toward his health care efforts continue steadily downward so now more are opposed (50 percent) than in favor (45 percent) and he's suffered a 29-point drop in agreement with enacting a “public option.” But ABC's Kate Snow still saw a “glass half full” view as she managed to end with a positive spin for Obama:
It's not all bad news for the President. We didn't find an overwhelming majority against health care reform. Instead, if you look at the glass half full point of view, the country is basically split. About half of Americans still favor reform, and about half still favor a public option.
Also skipped by World News: How, despite the loaded wording in the question referring to those “angrily protesting at town meetings,” a majority (51 percent) considered the protests “appropriate” versus 45 percent who called them “inappropriate.” (Question 16 in the PDF.)
If you've been keeping up with the health care debate, opponents of President Barack Obama's health care plan have been accused of spreading misinformation to thwart the administration's efforts. Even Obama himself said recently that those who raised the abortion concern were "bearing false witness." But the same sorts of claims have come up in the media.
"[F]ifty-four percent believe that abortion is going to be funded," Schultz to Douglass on "The Ed Show." "Fifty-four percent believe that there's going to be a government takeover. And 45 percent believe that death panels are going to be there for the elderly. I should point out, none of those are true. So, obviously, the White House is not connecting with the American people."
On Friday’s Newsroom, CNN’s Rick Sanchez implied that the president of Conservatives for Patients Rights was lying about how “under the British health care system...health care has become so scarce that mothers are now forced to give birth to babies on sidewalks.” A woman in the UK did deliver on a sidewalk recently, but Sanchez complained, “As...you might expect, that statement went unchallenged.”
The CNN anchor made this accusation 18 minutes into the 3 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program. Just before this, he used the occasion of a new “attack ad” from Conservatives for Patients Rights to re-air the bulk of his August 6 interview with the organization’s president, Rick Scott. Sanchez questioned the credibility of the ad: “It makes the questionable charge that health care reform will raise your taxes on everything- everything, it says- and it comes from a group whose track record, as revealed on this newscast, is dubious.” In his view, CPR is “dubious” because their president Scott “does not really seem to want the government getting in the way of his profits....He got rich beyond imagination, while his health care chain was ripping off the federal government. And remember? Scott admitted to me that his company paid a record fine of $1.7 billion for defrauding Medicare.”
On Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez interviewed commentator Dick Morris about his latest book critical of the Obama administration, Catastrophe. After reading the book’s full title, Rodriguez observed: "This title, though, Mr. Morris, can’t you see a lot of people dismissing it right off the bat as alarmist? It screams at you."
In response, Morris pointed out the dire state of the economy: "9.5% unemployment, four quarters of negative growth, our car companies in receivership, our health care program about to be taken over, and banks being nationalized, and I’m alarmist?"
Rodriguez replied by citing recent media spin that the recession is over: "Well what about the positive indicators? Because not so long ago, it was on the cover of every magazine, the topic of every cable show and Sunday morning show, that we were kind of digging out of the recession. We saw three straight months of rising home sales, the stock market up more than 40% since March. Ford beat expectations. Doesn’t that count?"
On Sunday evening, NewsBusters colleague Noel Sheppard highlighted a health care-related story from the Canadian Press (CP), which is that country's rough equivalent to the USA's Associated Press.
It appears that the CP is more open to reporting inconvenient news than is "our" AP, judging from a report earlier that day by the CP's Jennifer Graham. In an interview with Graham, the incoming president of the Canadian Medical Association said that the supposedly idyllic wonderland known as Canadian medical care is in deep trouble. Lo and behold, Graham actually reported it:
The incoming president of the Canadian Medical Association says this country's health-care system is sick and doctors need to develop a plan to cure it.
Dr. Anne Doig says patients are getting less than optimal care and she adds that physicians from across the country - who will gather in Saskatoon on Sunday for their annual meeting - recognize that changes must be made.
“We're the only industrialized democracy that doesn't cover every citizen” and “that is immoral,”Mark Halperin, editor-at-large and senior political analyst for Time magazine where he oversees “The Page” blog, declared on CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight in illustrating the prism through which journalists view the debate over the proper role of government in health care.
Halperin's contention occurred back on Thursday, August 6, but I'm just now catching up, following a vacation, thanks to a tip from Steve Allen of the Gentleman from Lickskillet comic strip, which had a liberal media bias theme a couple of weeks ago involving “Group Think” magazine.
When Dobbs challenged Halperin's premise -- “That's immoral?” -- the political director at ABC News for ten years until jumping to Time in 2007, affirmed: “Yes, to be a country this wealthy and be the only industrialized democracy that hasn't figured out how to cover everyone.”
CNN anchor Rick Sanchez and guest Mark Potok of the liberal Southern Poverty Law Center concluded that there was a “disconcerting” infiltration of militia groups into tea party and health care town hall protests during a segment on Thursday’s Newsroom. The two focused on the appearance of armed people at these events, and one individual’s apparent connection to a militia which plotted violence.
Sanchez interviewed Potok at the bottom of the 3 pm Eastern hour on how Ernest Hancock, a Ron Paul supporter and online radio host, reportedly defended the members of a militia called the Viper Team. Hancock also interviewed an acquaintance of his who openly-carried an AR-15 near a venue where President Obama was speaking. Before introducing Potok, the CNN anchor used a clip from a former Secret Service agent he interviewed to hint that Hancock and his acquaintance were “gun nuts.” He then played a clip of the rifle-carrying individual himself, who railed against taxation which redistributed wealth and a tyranny of the majority: “I want this and that, this and that, and I’ll just vote and take it from you. The burden of all this thievery gets too thick.....we will forcefully resist people imposing their will on us through the strength of the majority with a vote.” Sanchez then implied that these words were a threat of violence: “Somehow, the words ‘forcefully resist’ coming from a man with an AR-15 outside a presidential event is just a little unsettling.”
Following MSNBC coverage of ObamaCare protesters legally carrying guns, on Thursday, the Second Amendment Foundation condemned the liberal network for "using deceptively-edited video from a Phoenix, Arizona anti-tax rally on Monday to invent a racial stereotype in its on-going effort to demonize and marginalize American firearms owners as ‘racists.’"
As NewsBusters reported on Tuesday, MSNBC correspondent Contessa Brewer, along with Morning Meeting host Dylan Ratigan and pop culture analyst Toure, depicted all gun-carrying protesters as being "white," "racist," and even a threat to President Obama’s life. Brewer cited one such gun-toting protester, but used highly edited video footage that did not reveal the man was actually African-American.
On Thursday morning, CNN downplayed the partisan nature of “legendary” Senator Ted Kennedy’s request to backtrack on a 2004 change in Massachusetts state law which allowed Democrats to hold on to John Kerry’s Senate seat had he won the election. While anchor John Roberts and correspondent Dana Bash explained the circumstances of the 2004 change, Bash merely labeled it a “political irony.”
Roberts gave two news briefs about Kennedy’s letter to Massachusetts officials during American Morning, summarizing that the commonwealth “changed [the law] in 2004 requiring a special election because then-Governor Mitt Romney, a Republican, could have appointed someone had Senator John Kerry won the presidential election....Senator Kennedy wants there to be an interim appointment before a special election just to make sure that the state’s covered.” The anchor didn’t include any mention of the health care issue in either of his briefs, which is a clear factor in play with the liberal senator’s request.
If you were a reporter trying to gauge the credibility of Obama administration protests that it is really serious when it says that it will honor patient, doctor, and family treatment wishes in serious illness situations if the government takes an exponentially greater role in health care, you might look into how areas of health care already controlled by the government are dealing with these sensitive matters.
Apparently either no journalist has cared to look, or if anyone has looked, they haven't found anything they believe is worth reporting.
In today's Wall Street Journal, Jim Towey, a former director of the Bush White House's Office of Faith-Based Initiatives and founder of the nonprofit Aging with Dignity, found a troubling, newsworthy, death-encouraging decision that has already been made during Barack Obama's short term in office.
CNN went searching for an example of health care reform without a public option on Aug. 20. Correspondent Jim Acosta found such a “model” in Massachusetts, but downplayed the state program’s flaws.
“What do you get when you take the public option out of health care reform? Well, according to some experts you get Romney Care,” Acosta said. “Three years after enacting its own version of reform, Massachusetts now has near universal coverage. Taxpayer watchdogs say it’s affordable … health care experts say it’s popular.”
Acosta included former Gov. Mitt Romney, Michael Widmer of the Massachusetts Taxpayer Foundation and Robert Blendon of the Harvard School of Public Health in his segment -- all supporting Romney Care.
As each day passes and President Barack Obama's health care proposal faces more and more opposition, some of the talking heads that appear on the cable news networks are looking for a "boogeyman" to blame for allegedly ginning up backlash. And that "boogeyman" has been conservative talk radio.
However, if recent history is any indication, there could be an effort to take silence conservative talk radio.
Some of the circumstances surrounding the current debate on "reforming" health care are eerily familiar to the 2007 bipartisan effort to "reform" immigration. In fact, the last big policy issue that was defeated when an upset constituency pushed back was the bipartisan 2007 effort to reform immigration.
ABC, CBS and NBC on Wednesday night all showcased liberal Democratic Congressman Barney Frank's rejoinder -- “On what planet do you spend most of your time?” -- to a woman's question: “Why do you continue to support a Nazi policy as Obama has expressly supported this policy?” As if the premise were coming from a typical anti-ObamaCare conservative, ABC's Charles Gibson set up the exchange by asserting “the contentious rhetoric over health care reform has gone up another notch. It happened in Massachusetts, after protesters brought pictures of President Obama with a Hitler-style mustache to a town hall meeting with Congressman Barney Frank.”
Though ABC showed a picture of the poster with “LaRouche PAC.com” visible at the bottom, neither Gibson nor CBS's Nancy Cordes (who did not show the LaRouche credit) noted the posters were created and distributed by the group affiliated with Lyndon LaRouche, a seven-time far-left Democratic presidential candidate who spent many years as a Trotsky-ite and is best-known as a propagator of wild conspiracy theories. The New Bedford Standard Times identified the woman as “with the LaRouche Political Action Committee.”
On the NBC Nightly News, fill-in anchor Lester Holt referred to “more rowdy town hall meetings” which led Frank to decide “he'd had enough and faced off against a woman holding a picture of President Obama that was doctored to make him look like Hitler.” After video of the exchange Tuesday night in Dartmouth, Massachusetts, Holt benignly described the source: “That anti-Obama image is being disseminated by supporters of perennial presidential candidate Lyndon LaRouche who are campaigning against health care reform.”
CNN anchor Rick Sanchez accused anti-ObamaCare activists of forwarding “misrepresentations, and flat out lies in some cases” during a segment with “progressive” pastor and Obama apologist Jim Wallis on Wednesday’s Newsroom program. Sanchez placed the blame on the protesters relying “exclusively [on] right-wing media and right-wing television channels.”
The anchor brought on Reverend Wallis, the head of the “progressive Christian group Soujourners,” to discuss the phone-in town hall meeting he was hosting with President Obama. Midway through the interview, Sanchez raised the “wild behavior that we’ve seen in some of these health care forums” and made his first accusation against the anti-ObamaCare protesters: “When you hear, for example, some of the misrepresentations, and flat out lies in some cases, like calling things death panels and saying that people are going to be- old people are going to be killed, including some of them spread by people who profess to be Christians. How do you- how do you reconcile that as- as a Christian yourself?”
IMPORTANT UPDATE BELOW! (Kansas City Star and Abouhalkah recognize their own ignorance, change title of post and disable old link).
Numerous reasons to oppose the ludicrous Obama health care plan aside, Yael T. Abouhalkah of the Kansas City Star has cut through to the real reason for dissent - Americans are ignorant.
While Abouhalkah will undoubtedly argue that the message was meant to apply merely to the aspect of health care knowledge, he is quite unsuccessful at holding back his overall disdain for the way American's have responded to the plan.
The title of his most recent blog post says it all. In referring to an NBC poll about the health care plan, one in which MSNBC titles Doubts About Obama's Plans, Abouhalkah titles his post - Poll: Ignorance abounds among Americans on health care plan.
The message? If you're not down with the President's plan, then you can only be classified as ignorant.
But what examples of ignorance does the author specifically cite?
NBC on Tuesday night tried to turn public opposition to ObamaCare into a “split” in public opinion discovered in a new NBC News poll as Chuck Todd assessed Obama's health effort is “still in serious condition politically, but it is stable,” and he listed four charges against the Democratic bills which he asserted have “been checked independently and proven to be false,” yet NBC didn't inquire about any claims from Obama and other liberals that those same groups have discredited. (Asked their TV source of health policy news, 64 percent listed ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN or MSNBC. Another 23 percent said Fox News, only 7 percent named MSNBC.)
Todd also tried to minimize the impact -- of what he derided as the “town hall madness” -- by attributing the view of them to partisan positions without mentioning how independents consider them beneficial: “And those town halls -- the country is evenly divided -- 43 percent say they've done more harm than good; 42 percent say they've done more good than harm. And by overwhelming majority, Democrats believe they're harmful. Republicans believe they're good.” On MSNBC.com, however, NBC News deputy political director Mark Murray pointed out: “Independents believe, by a 50-34 percent margin, that the protests have done more good.”
With President Obama and congressional liberals facing loud protests over their big government health care plan, journalists are casting the anti-ObamaCare forces as “ugly,” “unruly,” “nasty” mobs, with reporters presenting the most odious images (like pictures of Obama drawn as Hitler) as somehow representative. But when President George W. Bush faced left-wing protests, the media scrubbed their stories of radical voices and depicted demonstrators as mainstream, and even “prescient.”
In January 2003, all of the broadcast networks touted an anti-war march organized by the radical International ANSWER, an outgrowth of the communist Workers World Party. Signs at the rally read: “USA Is #1 Terrorist,” “Bush Is a Terrorist,” and “The NYPD Are Terrorists Too.” National Review Online quoted several protesters who claimed 9/11 was a Bush plot, “like when Hitler burned down the Reichstag,” and argued Bush would “build a worldwide planetary death machine.”
Reporters bypassed all that hate and showcased the protesters as everyday Americans. On ABC, Bill Blakemore stressed how the protest attracted “Democrats and Republicans, many middle-aged, from all walks of life,” while CBS’s Joie Chen saw “young, old, veterans and veteran activists — all united in the effort to stop the war before it starts.”
On Tuesday, MSNBC’s Contessa Brewer fretted over health care reform protesters legally carrying guns: "A man at a pro-health care reform rally...wore a semiautomatic assault rifle on his shoulder and a pistol on his hip....there are questions about whether this has racial overtones....white people showing up with guns."Brewer failed to mention the man she described was black.
Following Brewer’s report, which occurred on the Morning Meeting program, host Dylan Ratigan and MSNBC pop culture analyst Toure discussed the supposed racism involved in the protests. Toure argued: "...there is tremendous anger in this country about government, the way government seems to be taking over the country, anger about a black person being president....we see these hate groups rising up and this is definitely part of that." Ratigan agreed: "...then they get the variable of a black president on top of all these other things and that’s the move – the cherry on top, if you will, to the accumulated frustration for folks."
Not only did Brewer, Ratigan, and Toure fail to point out the fact that the gun-toting protester that sparked the discussion was black, but the video footage shown of that protester was so edited, that it was impossible to see that he was black. The man appeared at a health care rally outside of President Obama’s speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Phoenix, Arizona.
On Monday’s World News, ABC’s Charles Gibson channeled the worry of liberal activists over the Obama administration’s seeming retreat on government-run health insurance, the so-called “public option.” Gibson fretted about Obama to White House correspondent Jake Tapper: “Will he go to the mat for a public option?” Gibson exposed how one-sided his universe of experts is: “We talked to several health care experts today, and they all said if you take out the public option in terms of insurance, there's going to be no restraints on the cost of insurance.”
Conservative health care experts see empowering individuals, not government or insurance company bureaucrats, as the key to creating a more sensible health care marketplace.
MRC’s Brad Wilmouth caught Gibson’s exchange with Tapper, which followed Tapper’s piece on how the White House backpedaling was upsetting liberals:
On Monday's CBS Evening News, correspondent Sharyl Attkisson filed a report highlighting the recent defections of thousands of AARP members to the more conservative American Seniors Association (ASA), because of the perceived support by the AARP for ObamaCare. The report recounted that Obama recently had to correct a claim that the AARP supports his plan, while some are suspicious that the group may support the President privately, but are unwilling to admit to doing so publicly.
Substitute anchor Maggie Rodriguez noted that Obama had to backtrack on claiming AARP support as she introduced the story: "President Obama once thought he had the AARP on board, as he put it, on his plan for health care reform, but he has since had to back off on that claim."
Your humble correspondent has had problems with the Orlando Sentinel in the past, especially when it published a silly global warming alarmism story which presented various map scenarios of Florida being flooded over. However, I must extend congratulations to that periodical for its excellent live blog coverage of a phony stacked deck "town hall" meeting conducted by Congressman Alan Grayson which could serve as a model for other newspapers on how to cover such events. First a description of the event as covered in the regular way via Orlando Sentinel article:
Grayson's hastily called meeting took place in the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union hall, which limited attendance to about 120 members of the public. It also was scheduled just after a regular meeting of local Democrats, some of whom stayed behind for the town hall in the scarce seats.
Outside the building, hundreds of frustrated people who could not get inside waved signs and chanted for and against the proposals.
Time magazine’s Joe Klein complained about the legal appearance of openly-carried weapons at protests against President Obama during a segment on CNN’s Newsroom on Monday, and labeled the protests against ObamaCare as a “celebration of ignorance and misinformation.” Anchor Rick Sanchez and his other guest also falsely characterized one of the guns carried at a recent protest.
Sanchez first asked Klein about the appearance of guns at several recent protests against President Obama outside his health care town hall events or speeches: “Joe, I don’t remember people protesting against President Bush showing up with weapons. Do you?” The Time columnist answered, “No. I’ve been doing this for almost 40 years now, and I’ve never seen anything like this. There should be like a Second Amendment equivalent of the First Amendment- shouting fire in a crowded theater.”
On Saturday’s House Call program, CNN’s Sanjay Gupta finally reported the left-wing affiliation of a “health insurance insider” glowingly featured on his network. Gupta noted that Wendell Potter was a “senior fellow at the Center for Media and Democracy” and that the former Cigna spokesman was now “pro- a public insurance option.” He didn’t label Potter’s organization or position as leftist.
The following day, ABC’s Good Morning America on Sunday ran a sympathetic piece on Potter’s “personal journey from health industry insider to outsider” that treated him as a subject of a human interest story. Despite reporting on the fellow’s “loss of income, status, position and colleagues,” correspondent Ron Claiborne omitted Potter’s new liberal affiliation.
On CBS’s Sunday Morning correspondent Martha Teichner touted President Obama’s latest PR blitz to promote health care reform: "For the third time in five days, Barack Obama used the presidential bully pulpit on behalf of what he’s now calling health insurance reform. No more letting the angry opposition control the agenda."
Teichner dismissed that "angry opposition" by declaring: "Here’s a question. Do they even know what’s in the bills currently being considered by Congress? Do you?" Teichner and two liberal supporters of the Obama health care plan proceeded to educate viewers as to what was being proposed.
She spoke with former head of the left-wing group People for the American Way, Ralph Neas, now CEO of the supposedly "non-partisan" National Coalition on Health Care that is pushing for reform. In addition, Teichner spoke with University of North Carolina Professor Jonathan Oberlander, who in a July 22 article for the liberal British newspaper The Guardian wrote: "The Obama administration is pushing Congress to enact health reform legislation this year. And against all odds, Obama may pull it off....Obama’s election, after all, is a reminder that history is not always repeated. Sometimes it is made."
During Thursday's World News with Charles Gibson, ABC correspondent Kate Snow held open the possibility that some ObamaCare opponents are correct in their belief that universal health care will include taxpayer funding of abortion, although she characterized the truth as "unclear," during a "Reality Check" during which she brought up the likelihood that taxpayer funding would be used to purchase private health insurance plans that cover abortion. Snow:
Will health care reform lead to taxpayer-funded abortions? Unclear. Current law states federal funds cannot be used for abortions except in the cases of rape, incest or the life of the mother. But under health care reform, lower income Americans would have their health care subsidized by the government, and they will be allowed to pick a health plan that covers abortion.
She also informed viewers that at least one alternative plan would try to separate tax dollars from abortion funding -- she contended that "it might not be the easiest thing to regulate, keeping public and private money separate," but she also cited "experts" who say that such a plan "could work." Snow:
On Saturday's CNN Newsroom, anchor Don Lemon played a clip of his interview with Allen Hardage, identified as the director of America's Town Hall:
LEMON: Where was the outrage five years ago, ten years ago, 15 years ago? Why all of a sudden this outrage now? At least the president is trying to reform health care, so where did the outrage suddenly come from?
ALLEN HARDAGE, DIRECTOR, AMERICA'S TOWN HALL: Don, this is the second town hall he's done in the last week that I actually saw real Americans get up and ask questions. It wasn't a pre-selected group or a --
LEMON: But hang on, before you do that. Real Americans, that's another term that really sets people off.
HARDAGE: Well, let me tell you what I mean by that.