Over the last several weeks, no one has been the target of the left-wing media and blogosphere more than Fox News host Glenn Beck, even more so than his radio host counterpart Rush Limbaugh.
Although conservatives have decried the daily ad hominem attacks, some voices on the left are starting to realize that's not an effective strategy for championing their cause, especially when it comes to the hot-button issue of the day, health care.
And that is really starting to bother Air America host Lionel - that is the daily repetitive nature of attacking Glenn Beck and/or Rush Limbaugh by giving a litany of complaints about what they said, as he laid out in a nearly three-minute tirade on his September 14 Air America radio show.
Good Morning America co-host Diane Sawyer on Tuesday conducted a surprisingly tough interview with Tim Geithner, grilling the Treasury Secretary on tax increases, spending and highlighting the 9/12 rally in Washington D.C. Speaking of the American people, she asserted, "They don't see a possible way out without tax raises."
After Geithner tried to squirm out of responding, Sawyer, who will leave GMA in January to become the anchor of ABC’s World News, reiterated, "Are you still guaranteeing that no one in America will have their taxes raised unless they make more than $250,000 a year?" Geithner noted how this was a "commitment" for the President, prompting Sawyer to again attempt to nail down a firm answer: "That's your promise? It will not happen?"
This is a notion that hasn't really gotten any traction anywhere yet, but could Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C. be a viable 2012 presidential election candidate?
The hosts of Fox Business Network's "Happy Hour," Eric Bolling, Rebecca Diamond and Cody Willard, contemplated that possibility on their Sept. 14 show, which comes on the eve of a vote on a "resolution of disapproval" on Wilson for calling out "You lie!" as President Barack Obama spoke to a joint-session of Congress Sept. 9.
"First off, House Dems appear set to censure South Carolina Representative Joe Wilson for shouting ‘you lie' at President Obama during last week's health care speech, but Wilson is not backing down," Diamond said. "He told Fox News Sunday he will not apologize to the House tomorrow. Instead, he is turning this - all of this into a fund-raising campaign, claiming he has raised $1 million since the outrage incident last Wednesday. So we are asking, ‘Hit or Miss' on whether Democrats risk turning Representative Wilson into a viable conservative candidate for 2012."
Two days after her magazine published Evan Thomas's "Case for Killing Granny" -- see related NewsBusters post here -- Newsweek staffer Jesse Ellison lamented that her "grandmother lived a full life and sought a quiet death" but "America's health-care system had a different idea of what was best."
In a September 14 Newsweek Web exclusive, Ellison laid out a story of zealous coverage aimed at prolonging her late grandmother's life, complaining that her grandmother's wish to die peacefully was disregarded as she was "treated like a problem to be solved, not as an elderly woman who had had enough."
Although Ellis's grandmother "had great insurance" plus "enough savings to pay for anything that Medicare and her insurance company would not," the writer found cause for complaint in the health care system having a bias to save and extend life, as well as the high costs that that approach incurred:
There's no doubt the so-called mainstream media turned their collective noses up at the Sept. 12 march on Washington, D.C. to protest the policies of Democratic-controlled federal government - whether in the form of denigration, downplay or outright ignoring the event.
However, conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh has suggested a different tactic. On his Sept. 14 show, Limbaugh proposed a future round of these grassroots protests not take place at the seats of power in government, but instead the headquarters and outposts of the local and national media.
"There have been hundreds and thousands of protests by conservative groups that haven't been covered, and tiny turnouts by the left that are covered," Limbaugh said. "You know all this as well as I do. What about this? We're looking for a force multiplier. Yeah, the protest in Washington on Saturday was great, two million people, but imagine what a force multiplier would be if the next one were held outside of local and national television networks and their headquarters where they can't miss it?"
CNN's efforts to smear Obama critics as racist gained visibility on Monday's Situation Room when the usually more sensible Wolf Blitzer, with “RACIAL TINGE TO TEA MOVEMENT” as the on-screen heading, set up a story on how, “most disturbing,” within the tea party crowds there's “a very small but vocal minority, they're targeting President Obama's race.” Though reporter Elaine Quijano said “we have to emphasize by far most tea party protesters are not casting their arguments in what could be seen as a racial light,” she nonetheless proceeded to treat as newsworthy how “a small but passionate minority is also voicing what some see as racist rhetoric.”
In decrying the racism, CNN gave national cable air time to what she described as a “controversial image that's been circulating on the Web since July,” a “doctored image circulating on the Internet and even some protesters signs like this one in Brighton, Michigan, portraying President Obama as a witch doctor.” Brighton, Michigan? So, not at the more newsworthy big national event Saturday in DC I presume.
Quijano soon went to Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page who saw race as the common denominator: “People are not just mad at Obama. They're mad at Jesse Jackson, they're mad at Reverend Wright, they're made at Al Sharpton, they're mad at people who have nothing to do with Obama except they all happen to be black.” Without questioning the supposition, Quijano warned: “Page says the vehement racial resistance that's emerged is another sign any notion of a post-racial society after Barack Obama's election was wishful thinking.”
CNN’s Jim Spellman did his best to paint the participants of the Tea Party Express’s rallies across the nation in late August and early September as a bunch of extremists on Saturday’s Newsroom. Spellman played clips which zeroed-in on the protesters who called President Obama a Nazi, carried guns, or forwarded “outlandish conspiracy theories,” and labeled all of them “a dark undercurrent.”
The CNN journalist followed the Tea Party Express organization’s bus caravan during its 2 week journey across the United States, and the thirty-plus rallies held where it stopped. Spellman appeared just after the beginning of the 5 pm Eastern hour of Newsroom, and first played clips from seven men and six women who participated in these rallies. Six of the thirteen clips came from people who could be portrayed as “extreme,” as anchor Don Lemon put it, included one who referred to a “Gestapo-type tactic” and another who carried an AK-47:
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) appeared on MSNBC around 3:40 p.m. EDT today to defend Rep. Joe Wilson's (R-S.C.) claim that President Obama was lying about Democratic health care reforms not ensuring "public option" coverage of illegal immigrants. [MP3 audio available here]
King explained at length about Democrats voted down Republican amendments to put in place an enforcement mechanism to check the legal status of public option applicants.
Of course at the end of his interview, Shuster was unmoved, sticking to his guns that Joe Wilson "was lying" and insisting that Republicans were more interested in making political hay out of the illegal immigration question than safeguarding taxpayers from subsidizing illegal immigration:
On Sunday, CBS Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer praised President Obama’s recent media blitz for health care reform: "There’s no question he is the best salesman on the staff," but wondered: "Does he run the risk of overexposing himself?" Politco.com’s Roger Simon dispelled that fear: "It is a risk, but he keeps topping himself."
Simon elaborated on Obama’s oratory skill: "Every time you think this guy can’t give another speech that’s better than the last one, he gives another speech that’s better than the last one. And he’s achieving his purpose." He added that the President’s address to Congress last Wednesday: "was to unite Democrats around him. As a man who can get this job done."
In the same segment, Schieffer also spoke with syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker, who gushed: "There is always that risk of overexposure. And yet, if you watched his speech yesterday in Minneapolis, he sort of redeems himself every time he goes out there in front of the public, because he is so good."
The "Killing Granny" link takes readers to a September 21 print edition article by Evan Thomas which is more measured in tone than the sensational headline suggests, but one that nonetheless laments how Medicare, presently structured, has a built-in bias towards heavy per-patient spending with too little government bureaucrat oversight (emphasis mine):
At the end of Sunday’s Face the Nation on CBS, host Bob Schieffer denounced South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson: "The irony of a congressman trying to heckle a President in the midst of a speech that was, among other things, about the need for civility, is just one ugly sign of the mindless meanness that has settled over our politics."
Apparently Schieffer forgot this passage of President Obama’s speech last Wednesday: "Some of people’s concerns have grown out of bogus claims spread by those whose only agenda is to kill reform at any cost. The best example is the claim...that we plan to set up panels of bureaucrats with the power to kill off senior citizens. Such a charge would be laughable if it weren’t so cynical and irresponsible. It is a lie, plain and simple." Calling your critics liars hardly sounds like a call for "civility."
About a year ago, then-Senator and Democratic nominee Barack Obama managed to seize control of the issue of taxes from the Republican Party by promising lower taxes for "95 percent of Americans."
But today it's a drastically different situation. Obama's $787-billion stimulus has been passed into law and the administration is taking on higher deficits, which will only increase if a Democrat health care reform bill passes. It looks as though the president's hand will be forced and he will have to raise taxes. That's begs question - where were the media on this a year ago?
CNBC's Erin Burnett asked Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner at a CNBC made-for-television town hall on Sept. 10 if taxes would be raised. Geithner dodged the question, but Burnett interpreted the dodge to mean yes, as she explained on NBC's Sept. 13 "Meet the Press."
In a Sunday "uh-oh" review of 2010's electoral landscape as it applies to nationwide congressional races, the Associated Press's Beth Fouhy insulted GOP voters while effectively implying that they are the only ones who oppose ObamaCare, "reckless spending, and high debt."
The foundation of Fouhy's piece is a fear that Democrats may be in peril of losing their House majority in 2010. Funny, when they were in the minority and gaining ground in national sentiment, I recall that the press meme was "Democrats Gaining!" Now that they're in control and faltering, it's "Democrats in Danger of Losing (Somebody Do Something)!" The perspective always seems to be about the rising or falling fortunes of Democrats, which of course serves to validate the contention of those who say that the establishment press is the mouthpiece of the Left and the Democratic Party.
Now let's look at Fouhy's infuriating fulminations (red underline is mine):
60 Minutes on Sunday night gave President Barack Obama at least his fourth interview platform since his election (not counting re-runs), and while Steve Kroft framed the segment around how Obama “seemed confident that he had succeeded” in his Wednesday night speech and asked him, in the context of how the health care debate “has brought out the worst in us,” how “you were heckled. Not at a town meeting. Not on the campaign trail, but in a joint session of Congress,” whether “Congressman Wilson should be rebuked?,” he also gently challenged Obama from the right. Unfortunately, Kroft did not follow up when Obama delivered his usual liberal platitudes.
After Obama touted how he had reached out to Republicans on tort reform, Kroft pressed: “Would you be willing to do more in the area of tort reform and malpractice insurance? Would you be willing to agree to caps, for example, on malpractice judgments?” Kroft raised how to pay for it all: “There is still a great deal of skepticism about how this plan is going to be paid for. What you promised is essentially you promised not to affect anybody who has coverage now at all. You have promised to add another 30 million people into the system and you're saying that you can do all of this or want to do all this without impacting or increasing the deficit by a dime. How do you do that?”
You wouldn't know it from reading much of the mainstream media's coverage of the legislative battles over health care reform, but Republicans and President Obama share a number of prominent goals. Republican lawmakers have tried address the same problems that the President highlights, but congressional Democrats won't allow GOP amendments to get past committee votes.
With the exception of the public option, President Obama and GOP lawmakers agree on most major provisions on health care reform: increasing competition in the health insurance market; keeping bureaucrats out of the doctor's office; passing a health care bill that helps, or at least does not hurt, the economy; keeping legislation deficit neutral; preventing increases in taxes for the vast majority of citizens; preserving Medicare benefits for seniors; and preventing taxpayer dollars from funding abortions.
If you get your news from the New York Times, however, you are most likely oblivious to the many areas in which congressional Republicans and President Obama agree. The Times declared in an editorial last week that the President has "waited in vain for a bipartisan compromise to emerge — a virtual impossibility from the start given the determination of top Republicans to kill his effort and cripple his administration." The Times also insisted that the President "has been far too passive — for the sake of an unrequited bipartisanship — as his opponents have twisted and distorted the health care debate."
President Obama's address before a joint session of Congress “to rescue health care reform” caused “a 12-point improvement from last week” so “52 percent now approve of the way he's handling health care,” Katie Couric announced at the top of Friday's CBS Evening News in touting how a new CBS News poll discovered that “among those who say they watched the speech” -- a group she failed to point out was predisposed to Obama's policies -- “support is even greater, 58 percent.”
On NBC, anchor Brian Williams introduced a story on fallout from “Congressman Joe Wilson, the South Carolina Republican whose heckling of the President from the House floor continues to reverberate.” Reporter Kelly O'Donnell, who noted support for him in his district, observed what neither ABC nor CBS reported Friday night, that he made Democrats uncomfortable enough to acknowledge the current bills would let illegal immigrants get benefits: “As a result of this controversy, Senate Democrats said today they discussed options, like requiring Social Security numbers to make clear illegal immigrants will not get coverage.”
According to MSNBC’s David Shuster on Friday, South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson shouting ‘you lie’ to President Obama was racism on display: “The fact that Joe Wilson is from South Carolina...it strikes a lot of people as awfully close to the idea that maybe there was some sort of racist or bigoted element there.”
Shuster went on to add: “And especially then when you look up at the picture and you see older white men, all Republicans, sitting there. Just it gives off a strange vibe.” On Thursday, Shuster claimed that Republicans were: “...all white males with short haircuts. They look sort of angry. No women, no minorities, and it looks like they’ve sort of become unhinged.”
During the segment late in the 3PM ET hour, Shuster spoke with Reverend Jesse Jackson, wondering: “What role, if any, do you believe that bigotry is playing in some of this venom toward President Obama?” Jackson seized on the opportunity to cry racism: “Well, substantial. There is a struggle between the hope of going forward and the fear of going backwards....the big C-word, conservative, for some that means fiscal, for some, it means religious ethics, for some it means a code word for race.”
"Most people in their right-thinking mind know that the Tenth Amendment is a bunch of baloney." [audio available here]
That according to brilliant constitutional scholar MSNBC's David "biased in favor of facts" Shuster, who matter-of-factly insists the "general welfare" clause in Article 1 of the Constitution "unambiguously authorizes" social welfare spending like "social security, Medicare, veterans' care, etc."
Shuster made his comments today shortly after 4:30 p.m. EDT in reaction to Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R), who recently suggested that Tenth Amendment grounds could be a means of opposing as unconstitutional certain Democratic health care proposals.
Former Clinton operative turned journalist George Stephanopoulos appeared on Thursday’s O’Reilly Factor and received a declaration from Bill O'Reilly that, while obvious, probably wasn’t very welcome: "...You're a Democrat. I'm an Independent." This assertion resulted in no audible or visual protestations from Stephanopoulos.
And although the comment is demonstrably true, one might think that a supposedly independent, neutral journalist would fight back or claim to have put such partisan beliefs aside when he became a journalist. Stephanopoulos didn’t. The This Week host was appearing to discuss Barack Obama’s speech to Congress about health care and how the President has handled the issue.
Noting how the Palmetto State "has a history of rowdy politics" and that Rep. Joe Wilson (R) has made himself "the latest in a legendary line of South Carolina politicians who appeared to revel in renegade behavior," the Washington Post's Philip Rucker and Ann Gerhart turned to South Carolina Democratic operatives Don and Carol Fowler to smear Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) in their September 11 front-pager entitled "The Gentlemen From South Carolina."
Rucker and Gerhart turned to the husband-wife couple -- he was a Clinton era DNC chairman and she is the current South Carolina state Democratic chairwoman -- to practically tag-team in slamming Wilson. Rucker and Gerhart also acknowledged some Palmetto Democrats' brushes with political infamy before cuing up Don Fowler to quip that he thinks "it is something in the water."
Yet nowhere in their story did Rucker and Gerhart note Don Fowler's gaffe from August 2008, when, on a flight from the Democratic Convention, he made an inappropriate joke involving hurricane victims in New Orleans (video embedded above at right):
Media minds think alike. ABC: “It was the shout heard 'round the world.” CBS: “It was the shout heard 'round the world.” NBC, slightly creative: “The outburst heard 'round the world” and the “heckle heard 'round the world.” Congressman Joe Wilson's “you lie” shout during President Obama's Wednesday address to Congress on health care animated the Thursday evening newscasts, though it at least prompted ABC and NBC, but not CBS, to grudgingly take up, briefly, Wilson's contention illegal immigrants would receive health benefits.
“As the President spoke last night, there was a stunning moment. As the President tried to refute criticisms of his health care reform, a Republican Congressman from South Carolina yelled out 'you lie,'” ABC anchor Charles Gibson announced. On CBS, Katie Couric maintained “Presidents appearing there as respected guests have been interrupted before by boos and hisses, but this was different. A Congressman last night calling a President an outright liar to his face. Just the latest indication of how ugly the debate over reforming health care has gotten.”
Brian Williams teased the NBC Nightly News: “On our broadcast tonight, the speech on health care and the outburst heard 'round the world.” In the subsequent story Kelly O'Donnell portrayed “a stunning outburst. South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson accused the President of lying in a fit of anger that reverberated today.”
CNN’s Rick Sanchez conducted a softball interview of Senator Bernie Sanders on Thursday’s Newsroom, during which the two railed against the influence of the wealthy in politics. Sanchez omitted the large donations Sanders has received from unions while taking other senators to task for receiving corporate money, and seemed to endorse the senator’s push for the public financing of elections.
The CNN anchor began the segment by lamenting how $375 million has apparently been spent “mostly by the health and insurance industry...to influence this important debate” on health care “reform,” barely mentioning the spending by “those who back the President.” He then introduced Senator Sanders as an “an independent from Vermont who is convinced that politics has become way too corporatized, if not controlled.” Sanchez did not mention how the Vermont Senator self-identifies as “democratic socialist” and has almost consistently supported left-wing causes throughout his political career.
You know Cindy Sheehan's star has really fallen with the liberal media when the likes of Mike Barnicle, compare her to GOP Congressman Joe "You lie!" Wilson. On Thursday's "Hardball," Barnicle, substitute hosting for Chris Matthews, declared, "Democrats hope to turn Wilson into the Cindy Sheehan of the anti-health care reform movement. A clownish figure of ridicule who hurts his own side, more than he helps." As the MRC's Brent Baker noted, now that she is opposing a Democratic president, the media have turned on Sheehan.
The following is from Barnicle's opening to the September 10 edition of "Hardball":
During the 4PM ET hour of live coverage on MSNBC Thursday, co-host David Shuster denounced the behavior of Republicans at President Obama’s address to Congress, declaring: “You look at the image of the Republican Party, all white males with short haircuts. They look sort of angry. No women, no minorities, and it looks like they’ve sort of become unhinged.”
Shuster and co-host Tamron Hall moderated a debate between Democratic strategist Patrick Murphy and Republican strategist Alex Conant, over the impact of Republican Congressman Joe Wilson shouting out ‘you lie!’ during the President’s speech. Shuster claimed: “The video of the Republican lawmakers was almost as striking as the speech itself....Did the Republican image change last night for the worse or was it something minor that may have only had an impact on the conservative base that was energized and wants to kill reform?”
Following the discussion, Hall observed: “...this pride in being an American and what it means to have class in this country and to see something like that. It is hurtful when you know that it is a prestigious place we have in this world and when we are reduced to behavior like that, it is very telling to all of us. We love this country and it is hurtful to see someone play out their – their emotions in such a loser way – I think I can say that.” Shuster replied: “Tamron you said it perfectly. I agree with you 100%.” Hall admitted: “I don’t think my mother would like I said loser, but oh well.”
ABC’s Terry Moran on Wednesday hyperbolically spun Barack Obama’s congressional speech as a "bold call to action" and theatrically visualized, "There was another ghost in the chamber tonight, the spirit of Senator Ted Kennedy, who fought for decades for universal care."
Earlier in the Nightline segment, which recapped the President’s health care address, the co-anchor introduced his political revision of A Christmas Carol: "Yes, there were ghosts in that chamber tonight. The other Presidents who tried to reform the health care system and failed."
After discussing the outburst by South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson, who accused the President of being a liar, Moran declared, "The President simply moved on. Focusing on his message. Trying to take the high road. Leaving Wilson and others behind."
CNN/Opinion Research Corporation’s poll on President Obama’s health care speech to Congress on Wednesday significantly oversampled Democrats. The pollsters interviewed 427 Americans before and after their speech- only 18% were Republicans, while 45% were Democrats. Due to this skewing, CNN didn’t really play up the poll’s results on air, but they tried to do that on their CNN.com website.
The joint poll asked two questions before and after the speech. The polled were asked, “Do you think the policies being proposed by Barack Obama will move the country in the right direction or the wrong direction?” During the pre-speech period between September 5 and 8, 60% answered “right direction,” and 35% answered “wrong direction.” Immediately after the speech, the pollsters found that the “right direction” statistic went up to 70%, while the “wrong direction” number went down to 27%.
ABC correspondent Jake Tapper on Thursday condescendingly described Barack Obama’s address to Congress this way: "At times, it was almost like the President were a principal and Congress a bunch of unruly school kids." The usually restrained reporter announced, "He [Obama] made outreach to his conservative opponents, while also refuting many of their ideas."
Refuted? Wouldn’t challenged or attacked have been the neutral description? Tapper also repeated that Obama "blames misinformation for why many Americans are nervous about reform." Good Morning America on Thursday ignored the AP’s fact check from the previous night that debunked some of the things the President supposedly "refuted:"
After plugging his latest column in a September 10 post on the magazine's Swampland blog, Time's Joe Klein (shown in file photo at right) pegged Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) as "vile" before defending taxpayer-funded health care for illegal immigrants:
On this whole question of whether illegal immigrants will be included in the plan, which caused the vile Congressman from South Carolina to shout "You lie" when the President said they wouldn't be covered. Why shouldn't they be? After all, when an illegal immigrant cuts his hand while chopping cabbage and goes to the emergency room, the rest of us pay for it. Isn't the point to expand the risk pool as much as possible, to lure the insurance companies into concessions and lower prices?
I know it 's not going to happen. Congress will never vote to subsidize the health care of those who arrived here illegally. But, given the fact that we're already subsidizing them through the back door, it does make sense, doesn't it?
"The media must expose Obama's calculated scare tactics and lying on 'reform.' Failing to do so gives him a green light to lie and cry wolf about whatever he wants, whenever he wants," Media Research Center President Brent Bozell asserted in a statement released today.
Last night Obama told a litany of lies. He said the total cost of his health reform would be $900 billion over ten years, but even the government-run Congressional Budget Office found it would cost $1.6 trillion. He claimed his reform would not cover illegal immigrants or abortions, but nothing in any of the Democrat bills requires citizen verification and several organizations including the National Right to Life Committee have shown exactly how federal funds would be used to pay for abortion-on-demand. He knows these are lies and he tells them because he is confident the left wing ‘news' media will let him get away with it.
In his health care speech last night, President Obama cast himself as a truth-teller combating “bogus claims” and “misinformation” about his big government health care plan. “If you misrepresent what’s in the plan, we will call you out,” Obama warned his critics.
But within hours, the Associated Press had “fact-checked” the President’s speech and found the Fact-Checker-in-Chief is guilty of misrepresenting a few facts himself. AP writers Calvin Woodward and Erica Werner said the President uttered “a variety of oversimplifications and omissions,” and used “only-in Washington accounting” to claim his plan would not add “one dime” to the deficit.