As NewsBusters’ Noel Sheppard reported on Saturday, on Friday’s Morning Meeting program on MSNBC, host Dylan Ratigan got into a shouting match with Democratic Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz over health care legislation. On Monday, he apologized for the outburst: “...the way I went about that on Friday was a disservice to our viewers....I have some work to do.”
Ratigan’s heated exchange with Schultz stemmed from his anger over the Senate health care bill not being liberal enough. On Friday, he declared: “It basically allows the taxpayer to take the hit to pay for the uninsured, but it does not deal with the underlying symptom as to why there are so many uninsured...[P]art of the problem in this country is that our politicians do not understand that they make laws that create total imbalances.”
Schultz attempted to address the issue, but Ratigan repeatedly cut her off. On Monday he described one viewer’s reaction: “The way I conducted the interview has been called many things, but I’ll sum it up with a tweet from a woman known only as DianeG12, and I quote, ‘Dylan was very rude!’” He then admitted: “yes, DianeG12, I was and I want to apologize to the Congresswoman and to our viewers for that.”
In an interview in which he hit the 2008 Republican presidential nominee repeatedly from the left, George Stephanopoulos pleaded with Sen. John McCain to "name an issue next year where you are going to be joined at the hip with President Obama." [audio available here]
The live interview via satellite occurred six hours after McCain joined the other 39 Senate Republicans in voting against cloture on the Senate version of Democratic health care legislation.
All but two of Stephanopoulos's questions dealt with health care,the other two with Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons.
Transcribed below are Stephanopoulos's agenda of questions, which you'll notice buffet McCain from the left, and/or paint Republicans are the party responsible for keeping the Senate from wrapping up its business until Christmas Eve, even though it is Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) who controls the legislative calendar:
“There's a lot in” the health care bill as it now stands -- even without the “public option” or expanded Medicare -- “that people are going to like” and a “lot of people are going to like a whole lot once they see what's in it,” ABC News veteran Cokie Roberts contended on Sunday's This Week as she blamed Democratic messaging, not the substance, for declining support: “I think the Democrats lost control of the argument – the message – and that's why the polls are as they are.”
If the public just understood all the great things in it, she scolded, they'd realize the Christmas gift they're getting from those Democrats: “It's just a question of understanding it and the Democrats should have been getting that out there more.” As if hey haven't had the news media on their side. Amongst the wonderful benefits: “For he first time” there will be “totally paid-for long term care insurance.” Totally paid for by whom?
Roberts soon praised Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's deal-making and payoffs: “The person that I have really new-found respect for is Harry Reid, who just has this Senate in session relentlessly until they do this.”
On Thursday’s Stossel show on Fox Business Network, host John Stossel got to do the kind of show he was not able to do earlier this year when he was at ABC, as he devoted an entire show to the debate over access to health care, and gave attention to the market-based plan utilized by most employees of Whole Foods, which uses health savings accounts and encourages employees to shop around for health care, and to conserve their money for use in future years. Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, who has been the target of attacks from socialized medicine advocates despite the popularity of his company’s program with its employees, was the featured guest on Stossel's show, though he and Stossel at one point did get to debate socialized medicine advocate Russell Mokhiber. When Mokhiber cited the dubious statistic that 45,000 Americans die yearly from lack of health insurance, and contended that "zero Canadians die from lack of health insurance," Mackey charged that in Canada, "They oftentimes die from a lack of health care as they wait for services that are rationed by governmental bureaucrats."
While Stossel argued that too much involvement by a third party like insurance companies or government programs have caused health care prices to increase because consumers shop around less, Stossel and Mackey also charged that government regulations that forbid health insurance companies to compete across state lines, and that require insurance companies to cover procedures in their plans that are not desired by many customers, have helped create the problem of high insurance prices:
ABC's Dr. Tim Johnson, a long-time advocate of government-centered universal health care, again shared his personal view he “absolutely” favors passage of the current ObamaCare bill, though “I would personally prefer to have public option and/or Medicare expansion directly challenging private insurance.” Without irony, about twelve minutes later as he signed off as anchor of his final newscast, Charles Gibson promised he's always tried to deliver an “objective” newscast and lamented “objectivity is not universally in favor in our business these days.”
Approaching Johnson Friday night with liberal complaints the bill has been watered down too much, Gibson related how “the question that I hear most often is, is this bill, without a public option, without an expansion of Medicare, is it better than nothing?” Johnson assured him: “Absolutely, Charlie. We have to remember that doing nothing leaves us with the status quo, a non-system that is headed for financial and health care disaster.”
Later, Gibson asserted in his goodbye comments as he retires from ABC News:
I thank you for investing trust in us each evening, trust that we will give you as objective and honest a look at the day's news as we possibly can. Objectivity is not universally in favor in our business these days, but it is critically important. It is what we strive for each night.
Centering a Friday night story on how, as anchor Katie Couric explained, “Republicans are doing everything they can to block” the “health reform” bill, “including delaying tactics in this race against the clock,” CBS put front and center Senator Robert Byrd's “shame, shame” admonition of Republicans.
Reporter Nancy Cordes began her story by showcasing the aging Democrat: “As he was wheeled into the Senate chamber shortly after 1:00 AM, 92-year-old Robert Byrd made it clear how he felt about being pulled out of bed to vote.” CBS showed a wide-shot of the Senate chamber with the area around the wheelchair-bound Byrd lightened with his words on screen as viewers heard the matching audio picked up by a nearby microphone: “Shame, shame.”
Cordes elaborated: “His ire was directed at Republicans who intentionally dragged out debate on a defense spending bill, hoping that in turn would hold up the health care bill Democrats desperately want to pass before Christmas.” She soon demanded of Republican Senator Orrin Hatch: “What's the point of forcing these votes to be held at the dead of night on Christmas eve? Why not just move along?”
On Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Russ Mitchell introduced a report on difficulties President Obama is having with left-wing: “President Obama is facing a growing backlash from liberal supporters on the issue of health care reform.” White House correspondent Bill Plante described the: “...anger really among the President’s former grass roots supporters on the Left.”
After citing former Democratic Party Chair Howard Dean’s opposition to the health care bill, Plante turned to other liberal critics: “Christopher Hayes, editor of the left-leaning magazine The Nation, says President Obama has betrayed the promises of his campaign.” Hayes argued: “What made the campaign so great was that it engendered a feeling of empowerment, that it felt like power was being distributed downwards, right? And that is something that you’re seeing the opposite of in this legislative battle.”
Plante even cited left-wing commenters on President Obama’s Facebook page: “Jamie writes ‘I had so much hope, but I feel like I’m invisible to a man I worked so hard to elect.’ While Melanie warns ‘if this White House doesn’t change, I won’t vote for you again.’” Plante concluded: “And that’s exactly the problem. It may mean that all of that enthusiasm that was generated in 2008 won’t be there either to push Congress or to reelect the President.”
All three morning shows on Friday skipped Senator Al Franken’s disrespectful snub of Joe Lieberman during a health care debate. Good Morning America, bizarrely, played video of the incident over a news brief, but never once mentioned what happened. While presiding over debate in the Senate on Thursday, Franken cut off Lieberman and then denied him an opportunity to finish his remarks.
A surprised Lieberman responded, "Really?" And yet, GMA, CBS’s Early Show and NBC’s Today all ignored the exchange. As ABC news anchor Juju Chang read a generalized report on health care, video from the dust-up can clearly be seen. (See above video.) Chang noted, "Nebraska hold out, Democrat Ben Nelson says changes to abortion funding limits were not strict enough. And he's doubting a deal can be reached."
Last June, as Newsbusters readers will remember, ABC allowed President Obama to pitch his health care proposal in a special edition of ABC's Primetime hosted by retiring World News anchor Charlie Gibson and (now incoming anchor) Diane Sawyer. Obama was given additional airtime to pitch his health care agenda that evening on Nightline.
Conservatives didn't get equal time.
Worse, ABC News even refused to allow the conservative group Conservatives for Patients Rights to purchase paid advertising to put out an alternative perspective.
Immediately afterward, the National Center for Public Policy Research (full disclosure: which I work for) began a multi-month review of the commercials run on World News. We found something interesting.
Today, it sounds like the president has finally reached that point with the Senate Democrats and their increasingly aggravating health-care squabbles. He's ready to issue a steely "Enough." And not a minute too soon.
Not a minute too soon? Isn't Connolly supposed to be an objective reporter, not a cheerleader for a political party and its agenda? Oh, that's right, this is Newsweek, the magazine whose editor actually aspires to a smaller (and more liberal?) audience.
At the top of Thursday’s CBS Early Show, correspondent Nancy Cordes excitedly proclaimed that Senate Democrats “are tantalizingly close” to passing a health care bill and derided Republicans for trying to “thwart” the legislation using “stall tactics.”
Cordes reported on the urgency of Democratic efforts to get 60 votes in the Senate: “Leaders are trying to craft a compromise that everyone can live with and soon...to pass a bill by the holidays, they must file the bill by this Saturday.” She lamented that “...they could get thwarted by Republican stall tactics....[who] suddenly demanded that clerks read a 767 page health care amendment out loud on the Senate floor.”
After explaining that “Senate business got tied up for three hours,” Cordes declared: “Democrats were predictably outraged.” She concluded her report: “And that’s the kind of stunt that Republicans would happily pull again if it will slow down the Democrats’ goal of getting this bill passed.”
One of the pet peeves of your humble correspondent is reporters who slam people or policies via the device of "some say" or "critics say" when in fact it is really their own position. However, they can't say what they really think in order to put up the false front of "neutrality." Such was the case of Katie Couric on the CBC Evening News last night in which she used her Notebook commentary to slam Senator Joe Lieberman for having unethical motives in opposing health care public option and an expansion of Medicare:
There's a new movie coming out next week called "It's Complicated," about a divorced couple with that age old relationship issue can't live with you, can't live without you.
I think that's how Democrats are feeling about their ex, Senator Joe Lieberman.
In his swan song interview with President Barack Obama, which consumed more than ten minutes of World News, ABC's Charles Gibson couldn't have provided a friendlier or more empathetic platform to Obama on the “weight” of sending troops to war and how “devilishly difficult” it's become to pass a health care plan because of a few rogue Senators. Gibson, set to retire Friday, teased his last Wednesday newscast:
Welcome to World News. Tonight, we broadcast from the White House. And in the headlines, one on one. Our conversation with the President in which he says he lost sleep over his decision to send more troops to Afghanistan, and makes a dire warning about health care.
That “dire warning,” which Gibson did not challenge in the interview: “If we don't pass it, here's the guarantee: the federal government will go bankrupt.”
Gibson began with Afghanistan, recalling how commanders don't “commit kids to war,” they just follow the President's orders, “and I thought, 'Holy God, what a weight that is on your shoulders.'” After Obama ruminated at length on the “gravity” of the “tough” analysis process he went through, Gibson wondered about the inner Obama: “How did you change from the beginning of that analysis and process that you went through to the end, inside you?”
On Wednesday’s Situation Room, CNN correspondent Jeanne Moos exposed some of the left-wing rage being directed at Senator Joe Lieberman, especially on the Internet. Moos’s examples of “liberal hate” at the Connecticut politician ranged from fantasy Hanukkah gifts, such as a muzzle, to a YouTube video of a woman having her cats attack a string which stood in for the senator [Moos's full report is available here].
The correspondent’s latest light report for CNN highlighted Liberman’s “new low among liberals.” Along with the multiple examples of leftists mocking the senator on YouTube.com, Moos noted the strong reactions from “progressive radio hosts,” such as Mike Malloy, and attacks on liberal blogs like The Huffington Post and Daily Kos:
Former Democratic operative turned journalist George Stephanopoulos on Wednesday pleaded with Howard Dean, warning that his opposition to the current health care bill could harm Barack Obama. The new Good Morning America co-host fretted, "The President's poll numbers at new lows. And a lot of leading Democrats believe that if this bill goes down, it will cripple the Obama presidency." [Audio available here.]
As though he was a representative of the Obama administration, Stephanopoulos challenged, "Are you prepared to do that?" Dean, the former Democratic National Committee Chairman announced his opposition (from the left) on Tuesday and Stephanopoulos seemed beside himself: "You say this is a big bailout for the insurance companies. But you saw Senator Harkin is for it. Others liberals like Sherrod Brown, Jay Rockefeller, are for it. Are you saying they're all selling out?"
Eight weeks ago, The Washington Post topped its own front-page with its own ABC-Washington Post poll announcing that the public strongly favored a "public option" in health care, by 57 to 40 percent. Their latest poll is much worse: "Negatives abound in poll," read the subhead. So it was buried on page 6 Wednesday. On the front page instead, a happy-talk headline: "Health bill’s prospects improve as Lieberman signals support."
Tuesday's conservative "Code Red" rally in Washington wasn't buried in the Post. It was nowhere in the Post.
The actual poll story by Dan Balz and Jon Cohen reports that 44 percent support current health-care legislation, and 51 percent disapprove. Approval of Obama’s handling of health-care has gone sour: 44 percent approve, while 53 percent disapprove. But the Post’s front page is still touting "Health care bill’s prospects improve" as their own poll shows a collapse of public support.
A night after MSNBC's Keith Olbermann demanded Senator Joe Lieberman “just resign already” as he shrieked “you are embarrassing humanity!”, CBS joined in targeting Connecticut's “independent Democrat” for daring to oppose liberals on health care. “He holds the 60th vote needed to get the health care reform bill passed in the Senate,” anchor Katie Couric intoned, “and Nancy Cordes tells us supporters of reform are angry and confused about Lieberman's position.”
Cordes soon expanded the exasperation to include “Democratic Senators Mary Landrieu, Blanche Lincoln and Ben Nelson” who “successfully blocked the public option even though the other 55 Democrats support it. Nelson is still holding out for stricter anti-abortion language, leading some liberals to complain their agenda is being hijacked by a few.” She demanded of Lieberman: “Does it trouble you that you're going against an overwhelming majority of your caucus?” (Hard to imagine a CBS reporter ever scolding a more liberal Republican for defying the party's conservative majority.)
A frustrated Cordes concluded: “So this small group of four or so Senators has managed successfully to impose their will on the other 530 members of Congress because the changes that they're demanding to the Senate bill will likely have to be made to the House bill, too.”
Longtime readers of Associated Press dispatches have long since learned that many of the most important facts of a story -- especially facts that put the government, bureaucrats, and leftists in a bad light -- are often found in its final paragraphs. This is a way for the wire service to boast that it really did report all important facts while usually ensuring that harried broadcasters and other users of AP content who attempt to digest it down to a couple of sentences will probably will leave the meaty and incriminating stuff on the cutting room floor.
Such is the case with a report on the arrest of dozens of Medicare ripoff artists in various US cities. While the details of the arrests are indeed important, the final three paragraphs of AP writer Kelli Kennedy's report are the real jaw-droppers, especially in the context of the president's and Congress's dogged determination to set a statist takeover of the entire health care system into motion before the end of this year (bolds are mine):
Former "Crossfire" host Bill Press apparently cannot distinguish between news and opinion. He is furious that his application for press credentials with the congressional press corps was denied due to content on his website urging readers to tell Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., to vote for health care legislation in the Senate. He cites numerous examples of CPC members that host opinion content, but neglects to differentiate between their commentary and their news coverage.
"Senator Joe Lieberman said he will vote against Harry Reid's proposed health reform bill that includes a public plan option. Call Senator Lieberman's office and tell him he's wrong to do so, and should vote FOR it," wrote Press on his site, billpressshow.com. The CPC forbids its correspondants from being "engaged in the prosecution of claims or the promotion of legislation pending before Congress."
Press was puzzled, however, that news outlets such as the Washington Times, the Huffington Post, Fox News, Al Jazeera, Venezuela TV, and Pacifica Radio were granted CPC membership, given the presence of opinion content in each of their outlets. "Irony? No, that's sheer hypocrisy," he wrote for the Huffington Post today.
CNN’s David Gergen played up the difficulties that President Obama has faced on Monday’s Anderson Cooper 360, underscored the importance of the coming week for the executive, and compared him to an iconic movie damsel in distress: “For a president who’s had more trials than anybody I can remember in a long time, sort of ‘The Perils of Pauline’ all year, this has become a climactic week for his presidency.”
Host Anderson Cooper brought on the senior political analyst to comment on the latest development on the health care debate, the Obama presidency in his first months, and the President’s upcoming trip to the UN’s climate change conference in Copenhagen. Cooper first asked Gergen about the potential for congressional liberals to turn against the proposed health care “reform” bill if the Obama administration cuts a deal with Senator Joe Lieberman over his objections to a Medicare “buy-in” for people 55 and older: “So, David, dropping the Medicare buy-in, could we be seeing- I mean, a liberal revolt in the wake of this? Because, I mean, a lot of people haven’t been following the minutia of this, but, basically, that idea of expanding Medicare to 55 and above, that was all for liberals, who were angered over the public option being dropped out.”
Some of the clearest examples of MSNBC’s liberal bias can be found in the onscreen graphics selected for the network’s programming. In the span of 20 minutes on Tuesday, three such Morning Meeting images stated a pretty clear opinion about Joe Lieberman’s opposition to parts of the health care bill. At 9:20am, one whined, "Joe Blowing Health Reform?"
At 9:01, another graphic actually used an exclamation point, not often seen in supposedly objective reporting: "Say It Ain’t So, Joe! Lieberman: No on Buy-In." At 9:14, a picture of the senator appeared onscreen with the words "THE SPOILER."
It's a good thing New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman wasn't a used car salesman because CNBC "Squawk on the Street" co-host Mark Haines would have driven off the lot in a lemon.
Friedman appeared on the Dec. 14 broadcast of "Squawk on the Street" to promote the paperback release of his book, "Hot, Flat, and Crowded." And once again, he made the case the United States is lagging behind in green technology and the only way to overcome this innovation gap is to set some sort of premium on the price of using carbon-based energy sources, as he meticulously argued in his book.
Friedman insisted it will take action by the government to impose these premiums and to grant some sort of long-term subsidy to stimulate this innovation. Haines, showing he was sold on Friedman's premise, expressed his doubt this could ever be set in motion.
Liberals are so incensed at Connecticut Senator Joe Liberman's refusal to vote for ObamaCare, that they have taken to attacking his wife, who works for a prominent breast cancer organization. Their ad hominem assaults and wild speculation about the Senator's supposedly evil motives reveal their hypocrisy when it comes to political centrists, and their desperation concerning health care legislation.
At Huffington Post, FireDogLake founder and breast cancer survivor Jane Hamsher revealed that her request to the Susan G. Komen foundation that money raised to find a cure not be used to pay Mrs. Lieberman's salary went unheeded. Hamsher went on to accuse the Lieberman couple of conspiring to sink health care reform in order to line their own pockets.
Hamsher accuses Mrs. Lieberman using "her association with her husband the Senator ... in order to secure these lucrative positions and advance the interests of her clients" at a lobbying firm for which she is a consultant. This contention, Hamsher claims, is "unquestionable," though she offers no evidence to support the accusation, other than speculation about the couple's income.
In an unusually tough interview with President Obama on Sunday’s 60 Minutes on CBS, correspondent Steve Kroft described the President’s West Point speech as being “greeted with a great deal of confusion” and that “some people thought it was contradictory.” He later said of the health care bill: “some people think is incomprehensible....I’ve not met anybody who’s read it.”
Kroft began the interview by asking about the new Afghanistan strategy and made some observations about Obama’s announcement of the plan: “In your West Point speech, you seemed very analytical, detached, not emotional....There were no exhortations or promises of victory. Why? Why that tone?” Obama argued: “...that was actually probably the most emotional speech that I’ve made.” And then hit the Bush administration: “...one of the mistakes that was made over the last eight years is for us to have a triumphant sense about war. There was a tendency to say, ‘We can go in. We can kick some tail. This is some glorious exercise.’”
Kroft went on to note that the speech: “was greeted with a great deal of confusion.” A testy Obama interjected: “I disagree with that statement.” Kroft rephrased: “...it raised a lot of questions. And some people thought it was contradictory. That’s a fair criticism.” Not according to the President: “I don’t think it’s a fair criticism....There shouldn’t be anything confusing about that.” Obama then touted a Bush administration success to make his point: “...that’s something that we executed over the last two years in Iraq. So, I think the American people are familiar with the idea of a surge.”
NBC's Matt Lauer, on Monday's Today show, in his first question to RNC Chair Michael Steele, asked if opponents to Barack Obama's health care reform bill, were going to deprive the President of politically joyous holiday season, as the Today co-anchor pressed: "So is the President's stocking going to be empty on Christmas Day?" Lauer then went on to question if the Republican's entire strategy was that of simply "delaying and stalling," as seen in the following exchange:
MATT LAUER: Let's talk about health care reform. The President says he thinks the Senate will pass his version of the bill by Christmas. Joe Lieberman says he's not voting for it in it's current form. So is the President's stocking going to be empty on Christmas Day?
On his first day as the new co-anchor of Good Morning America, former Clinton aide turned journalist George Stephanopoulos lobbied for a windfall profits tax on the bonuses of bankers. Also on Monday’s program, senior White House advisor David Axelrod reminded viewers of Stephanopoulos’ liberal background. [Audio available here.]
After the rookie GMA host asserted that Axelrod "has an office right next to the President," the Obama official retorted, "Used to be your office, George." A laughing Stephanopoulos quickly spun, "That’s right. A long, long time ago."
The journalist clearly hasn’t lost the habits of a Clinton-era Democrat. He pressed Axelrod for new taxes on the bonuses of bankers: "David, why not tax the bonuses? Britain last week announced that they're going to have a big windfall tax, a one-time tax on these big bonuses this year because the banks got so much help. Why not do that?"
"And if there's a policy rationale here, it's not apparent to me, or to others who've interviewed him," Klein wrote. "At this point, Lieberman seems primarily motivated by torturing liberals. That is to say, he seems willing to cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in order to settle an old electoral score."
Salon editor Joan Walsh, a frequent contributor on MSNBC, finds the network's "Countdown" host to be lacking in the diversity department when it comes to his guests. Of course, her complaint isn't with Olbermann's refusal to feature guests with whom he could have ideological clashes -- something his nemesis Bill O'Reilly has never been afraid to do -- but the fact that his guests are infrequently of the fairer sex.
Fresh off Donny Deutsch’s defense of Sen. Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) slavery analogy, Mike Barnicle asked GOP Chairman Michael Steele about what proposals the GOP favored for health-care reform. Along the way, however, he used an unfortunate choice of words:
MIKE BARNICLE: [...] What are you people for?
MICHAEL STEELE: You people? [starts laughing] Who are 'you people?'
While interviewing former Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean on Wedneday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez questioned his support for a plan by Senate Democrats to expand Medicare coverage: “...the criticism is that Medicare as it stands doesn’t work because the payments don’t cover the plan. Are we just not creating a bigger problem if we have to insure more people under Medicare?”
Dean praised the idea as a good alternative to the public option: “Medicare is a very, very effective program. It’s a government-run single payer program. Everybody over 65 is in it and it works very well....This isn’t perfect and the coverage is not broad enough, in my view, but I do think this is a positive step forward.”
Rodriguez began the interview by pointing out that Dean had previously been adamant about the public option being part of any health care legislation: “...back in August when we talked about this. You said ‘you can’t have reform without the public option.’ But as you know this plan, devised by these ten senators does not include it. So do you oppose it?” Dean replied: “Actually, not at all. Medicare is a public program, and it’s a single payer run by the government....I judge all these plans by whether they move things forward or move things backward. This move things forwards.”