Perhaps it was an early Christmas wish, but "Good Morning America" anchor Diane Sawyer and chief medical editor Tim Johnson shared some overly optimistic thoughts about the health care bill that narrowly passed the House of Representatives Nov. 7.
Sawyer kicked off the one-sided conversation with Johnson by asking him, "Well, if the president gets his wish and a bill either by the end of the year or the beginning of next year we had a simple question: What changes first in the lives of ordinary Americans?"
Sawyer's timetable is purely imaginary. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said on Nov. 8 that the bill is "dead on arrival to the Senate." Graham elaborated saying, "I hope and pray it doesn't [pass] because it would be a disaster for the economy and health care."
Very often criticism of journalists is actually criticism of journalism. Effective investigative reporting entails asking the tough questions and demanding answers. Powerful Democrats, including White House officials, have derided Fox News for this reason. But even conservative bloggers are not immune to the "extension of the opposition" charge for simply asking the tough questions.
Late last month Congressman Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., held a conference call on the administration's reform efforts. Pomeroy reiterated his support for the House health care bill. Rob Port, of the center-right blog SayAnythingBlog.com, asked a question during the Q and A period, in which he displayed open skepticism that the "public option" would increase consumer choice in the health care market (audio and transcript below the fold).
Each Saturday, the Washington Post prints an "On Faith" page in the Metro section. Part of the feature is a "From the panel" digest with a few excerpts from opinion leaders from various faiths and theological schools of thought. "On Faith" editors select a sampling of the panelists for the print digest but direct readers to the "On Faith" Web page for more opinions.
Well today, the panel discussion topic was the role of "end-of-life counseling" in health care reform. The Post had space to print but four panelists, and surprise, surprise, they were all for "end-of-life counseling" as an integral part of federal health care reform.
One panelist, Robert Parham of the Baptist Center for Ethics, even took it upon himself to slam the "shameful" "political deception" of "Sarah Palin, the Christian Right and many Republicans who have tried to sabotage healt-care reform with the canard of 'death panels.'"
Yet not all On Faith panelists were in agreement with this sentiment, such as conservative evangelical Christian Chuck Colson, who was not excerpted in print but made an excellent conservative case in his post on the On Faith page, published yesterday at 9:36 a.m. EST:
"[I] think we're building a stairway to heaven in Dow prices on the back of paper and I think that, you know it seems kind of dire to me that 8 percent - 8,000, 9 percent - 9,000, 10.2 - 10,000," Santelli said. "I shudder to think where the unemployment rate is going to be at 11 and 12,000 in the Dow."
Word choice can be a subtle but effective way in which the media colorfully editorialize on the news, skewing the perceptions of readers in one direction or another. Take Washington Post's Philip Rucker, who did masterful job in skewing his 19-paragaph-long page A4 story "Activists bring 'tea party' to Capitol Hill" in favor of ObamaCare proponents while smearing conservatives in a negative light.
Rucker's labeling bias was a thread woven through the entire piece, starting with the lead paragraph (emphasis mine):
Despite the mass shooting at Fort Hood, the ABC, CBS and NBC newscasts Thursday night squeezed in full stories pegged to a “kill the bill” anti-Pelosi/ObamaCare rally outside the U.S. Capitol attended by “angry protesters” as all the stories also stressed how President Obama got a “boost” from “big,” “powerful” “key” and “major” endorsements from the AARP and AMA.
NBC's Brian Williams contrasted “big endorsements by two influential groups” with “a big, noisy rally urging lawmakers to just say no,” while reporter Kelly O'Donnell minimized the conservative event as “a few thousand protesters.” ABC's Jonathan Karl, however, recognized how “the hastily-planned protest drew one of the largest crowds in memory for a congressional event. The crowd extends all the way up around to the House side of the building, across to the Senate side, literally surrounding the western front of the Capitol.”
NBC's Kelly recounted how the House bill would “expand health coverage to 96 percent of Americans, and create government-backed insurance called a public option. Today that plan won a powerful endorsement. AARP, the lobby group for Americans over 50, signed on and showed off boxes of supportive petitions” and that was “followed by another boost, the doctors' lobby, the American Medical Association.”
After Olbermann and Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson all but declared Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., organizer of the "House Call" event, an enemy of the state, they predictably came to the conclusion the event was racist. However to overcome that hurdle, Olbermann suggested organizers "pay" minorities to show up to make the cause look more diverse.
"On an associated point with this, how do the organizers of this not realize, ‘You know what, we had better get somehow, even if we have to pay them to show up, some black faces, some brown faces, some Asian people or somebody in this crowd other than the crowd we were seeing?'" Olbermann said. "Every piece of videotape I looked at looks exactly the same. This is otherwise going to look like a pro-Apartheid rally in South Africa 35 or 40 years ago."
The August Congressional Budget Office budget forecast for the fiscal year that began last month says that Uncle Sam will take in $2.264 trillion from October 2009 through September 2010. That's an increase of 7.6% over fiscal 2009's intake of $2.105 trillion.
Though it won't be official until Tim Geithner's crew releases its Monthly Treasury Statement next week, it's virtually certain that the government's collections will open the year in a deep hole compared to last year, and probably well behind what CBO expects.
Take a look at this compilation of key items from October's final Daily Treasury Statement, compared to the actual results from October 2008 and 2007:
Here's news you can virtually guarantee won't get noticed by what remains of the establishment media.
Whole Foods (WFMI) announced its financial results for the quarter ended September 30 yesterday. The quarter closed about 50 days after outraged leftists called for a boycott of the grocery chain to retaliate for a Wall Street Journal op-ed written by CEO John Mackey. In that column, Mackey identified "Eight things we can do to improve health care without adding to the deficit," asserting that:
The last thing our country needs is a massive new health care entitlement that will create hundreds of billions of dollars of new unfunded deficits and move us much closer to a government takeover of our health care system. Instead, we should be trying to achieve reforms by moving in the opposite direction — toward less government control and more individual empowerment.
Well, if there's so much support out there for statist health care, you would think that the Whole Foods boycott dedicated to punishing an opponent would have had a significant impact on the company's most recent quarterly results.
CNN’s Rick Sanchez omitted the left-wing ideology of an organization he cited as he lambasted North Carolina Representative Virginia Foxx on Tuesday’s Newsroom for her recent hyperbolic remarks against ObamaCare. Sanchez referenced a figure from the National Priorities Project, a think tank labeled “progressive” by CNN itself in 2007. He also left out some of the context of Rep. Foxx’s full remarks [video of the full segment available here].
The CNN anchor devoted an entire segment 37 minutes into the 3 pm Eastern hour to the North Carolina Republican’s speech on Monday against a health care “reform” bill sponsored by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Representative Foxx denounced the bill as “a tax increase bill masquerading as a health care bill,” and continued that Americans “have more to fear from the potential of that bill passing than we do from any terrorist right now in any country.”
Laurie Kellman, call your office, check your e-mail, and tap in to your Twitter.
The Associated Press reporter didn't get the memo that recession is supposedly over, and that at a minimum you shouldn't be writing as if it will be with us for a while. She also erred in citing the weak economy as a bad thing for Democrats. The New York Times told us about a week ago that a bad economy is a good thing for Democrats who want to pass state-controlled health care and other freedom-restricting agenda items, because a bad economy increases personal insecurity. They're such pals of the little guy, you see.
Both busts against the conventional media wisdom are in Kellman's brief item from late this morning (bolds are mine):
Health care issues: Hold off for a better economy?
There's no better example than political commentary from a Hollywood elite to demonstrate how low some conservatives are regarded. According to actor Ted Danson, some conservatives are just being manipulated by Rush Limbaugh and organized religion because they're not smart to formulate their own beliefs.
Danson, who has starred in both "Becker" and "Cheers," appeared on HLN's Nov. 2 "The Joy Behar Show" and was asked to respond to Rush Limbaugh's criticism of Barack Obama on Nov. 1 "Fox News Sunday." Danson questioned the notion that Limbaugh, who is a self-made success, is really "one of the people." Instead, he accused him playing on people's fears and anger to make money, which he didn't like.
It's hard to imagine two Chris Matthews Show panelists publicly admitting that the President was smarter than them, during the George W. Bush administration, but that's precisely what happened during this weekend's episode when host Chris Matthews asked Newsweek's Howard Fineman that very question. When a frustrated Matthews worried that Barack Obama wasn't being more aggressive in pushing health care reform, Fineman calmed Matthews down by assuring him that "one of his great qualities...is patience" which prompted Matthews to ponder: "Howard is he smarter than us?" to which Fineman affirmed: "Of course he is! Much smarter!" [audio available here]
The following exchange occurred during the November 1 edition of The Chris Matthews Show:
Congressman Earl Pomeroy (photo) of North Dakota, a supposed Blue Dog Democrat fiscal hawk, demonstrated his peculiar brand of "hawkishness" this week when he quickly announced his support of Nancy Pelosi's health care bill. Perhaps worried about the appearance of his less than stellar reputation on fiscal responsibility, Pomeroy issued this invitation to the North Dakota media:
** MEDIA ADVISORY **
Pomeroy to Hold Press Conference Call on House Health Care Reform Bill
Washington, DC - Congressman Earl Pomeroy will hold a press availability in Grand Forks and then a press conference call for media statewide this afternoon to discuss the details of the health care reform bill that was unveiled yesterday. All media are invited to participate. WHO: Congressman Earl Pomeroy
WHAT: Press availability and conference call on House health care reform bill
After a pattern of attacking Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, on a nightly basis, one of the strategies is becoming apparent - MSNBC is in need of a boogeyman to give a face to the opposition of these radical steps being undertaken to fundamentally change health care in the United States.
So rather than attack where the opposition is wrong on a policy level, MSNBC "Countdown" fill-in host Lawrence O'Donnell is going to apply one of the tactics from Saul Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals" to promote a dramatic shift in the U.S. health care system - "Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it."
"In our number five story on the countdown tonight, the Congressional Budget Office finds that it would leave 18 million people uninsured and the government-run health insurance plan will probably charge consumers premiums that are quote, ‘Somewhat higher, higher than average premiums for the private plans,' end quote," O'Donnell said on the Oct. 30 broadcast of "Countdown." "This is a devastating conclusion for a plan being sold not just as a low-cost option for consumers, especially poor consumers, but as somehow driving private insurance premiums lower."
Mark Preston at CNN's Political Ticker reports there's a major Hollywood contingent judging a Health Reform Video Challenge contest for the Democratic Party's Organizing for American campaign. (See today's Open Thread for one flag-mangling contestant.)
Stars on the judging panel for the final 20 TV ads include John Cho ("Flash Forward"), Rosario Dawson ("Men in Black"), Dule Hill ("The West Wing"), Brandon Routh (who played Superman), Kate Walsh ("Private Practice"), Olivia Wilde ("House") and musician Will I. Am of the Black Eyed Peas.
But the most risky name is Seth MacFarlane, the abrasive atheist creator of the Fox cartoons "Family Guy," "American Dad," and "The Cleveland Show."
The harshest ad in the contest features grade-school kids talking about how they'll suffer (and even die) because health care is denied:
BOY: A year from now, I’ll break my leg and my parents will have to sell our house because we couldn’t afford health care
GIRL: Three months from now, I’ll need surgery, and my parents will go bankrupt because they couldn’t afford health care.
But Maddow, on her Oct. 28 show, was able to merge the two topics in an attack on Fox Business Channel's John Stossel. Stossel recently came from ABC as a host of "20/20" to host a weekly opinion show on the Fox's business channel. But in Maddow's infinite wisdom, Stossel's participation in AFP activities somehow taints him.
"But first, one more thing about health reform and its politics," Maddow said. "Last week, we reported that Fox News contributor and soon-to-be Fox Business Channel [sic] host John Stossel will be headlining protest rallies against health reform staged by Americans for Prosperity, the lobbying group which refuses to disclose donors while rabble-rousing about the dangers of government-forced health care."
Penning the lead story for the “Yes He Can (But He Sure Hasn't Yet)” Newsweek cover, “A Liberal's Survival Guide,” Anna Quindlen defended President Obama from liberal complaints he's not enacting liberal policies fast enough as she explained that he's “saddled” by the “incremental” constitutional structure, but she fretted: “Universal health care is the area in which the gap between what's needed and what's likely is most glaring, and the limitations of the president's power most apparent.” Not hesitating to share her opinion, Quindlen despaired:
It is dispiriting to watch the cheerleaders of American exceptionalism pound their chests and insist that our citizens do not need the kind of system that virtually every other developed nation finds workable....
As elected officials posture and temporize, families are bankrupted by health-care costs and forgo treatment they can't afford. Statistical measures of the national health, from life expectancy to infant mortality, continue to be substandard. And because we have that system of checks and balances, in which movement usually happens slowly and sporadically, a great need for sweeping reform may be met with a jury-rigged bill neither sufficiently deep nor broad, which perhaps someday will give way to a better one, and then eventually a truly good one.
In late September, Florida Congressional Democrat Alan Grayson earned attention and apparently fawning support from the far left by describing the Republican Party's health care plan, as "1. Don't get sick; 2. And if you do get sick, 3. die quickly."
Grayson's supposed apology for these over-the-top remarks on the House Floor -- remarks that would surely have earned him censure and relentless media coverage had he been a Republican criticizing a Democrat -- consisted of saying, as paraphrased by Clay Waters of NewsBusters, that his "remorse was not for Republicans, rather for the dead .... comparing the existing health care system to the Holocaust."
Little did we know that in September, Grayson made himself a House ogre with his floor remarks, he hurled a grievously sexist and offensive insult at a senior Federal Reserve adviser. Wait until you see what he called Linda Robertson on the apparently syndicated but apparently lightly heeded Alex Jones show (relevant audio begins at about 0:35 of the 1:43 YouTube video; Warning - Objectionable language follows):
Do you want the public option that could make health insurance more competitive and cheaper, because it's looking like we may get it in some form at this point. Here's who else is going to be speaking in just a little bit, Senator Harry Reid is about to announce his position on this. I asked you this same question, by the way, a little while ago. How you felt about public option. You know, I've got to tell you, the numbers seem to show right now, it's about 61 percent in favor.
That 61 percent figure came from a recent CNN poll. He could have, but didn't, cite another poll, one mentioned recently in The Hill:
Polling experts, however, have documented that many people don’t know what a public option is, and that small changes in language can cause poll results to vary widely. An August poll by Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates showed that only 37 percent of those polled correctly identified the public option from a list of three choices.
I rise today in defense of bacon, as well as consuming hamburgers on Independence Day. And, most importantly, in defense of my mother's awe-inspiring pot roast.
Mika Brzezinski, co-host of MSNBC's Morning Joe, wants the government to make these classic American foodstuffs, as well as soda, alcohol, and being overweight, cost more. I apologize in advance for the long length of the transcript snippets – while Brzezinski is pontificating by reading the ‘New York Daily News’ editorial, the rest of the Brew Crew is making fun of her.
No, really [emphasis mine]:
BRZEZINSKI: Some people actually cares about their health, so I'm going to read that for those people. [reading] "A tax on sodas containing sugar has also been under consideration by Governor Paterson, among others."
It would appear that the Associated Press has nominated Calvin Woodward to be their go-to guy for "Fact Check" pieces that blow up political arguments and assertions by the White House and partisan Democrats.
In late April (covered at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), Woodward, in an item headlined "Obama disowns deficit he helped shape," blistered Barack Obama and his administration for its attempt to pin the blame for this exploding federal deficits and national debt on his predecessor. This of course didn't prevent the administration from continuing to blame Bush 43 for most of this past fiscal year's deficit of $1.417 trillion; it also didn't prevent Woodward's AP colleagues from mostly parroting a White House claim he had long since debunked.
In today's Fact Check ("Health insurer profits not so fat"), the AP writer ripped into what has seemingly been a mandatory talking point any time a Democrat brings up health care: the supposedly excessive profits of health insurance providers.
Woodward found that the Democrats' claim doesn't survive even cursory scrutiny:
President Obama was at Democratic Party fundraising events for incumbent Democratic Governor Deval Patrick in Massachusetts Friday night.
The Boston Herald's Hillary Chabot described the attendance at one of the events (HT Jules Crittenden, who is a Herald editor, via Instapundit) as "barely half-full with 125 deep-pocketed Democrats" in the second paragraph of her report ("President Obama: ‘Tough race’ ahead for Gov. Deval Patrick").
Meanwhile, at the Boston Globe ("Obama blows in, talks up Patrick and future"), staff reporter Matt Viser saved an observation that "the events appeared to not be fully booked" for the end of his fifth paragraph. The "events" were "a reception and a larger ballroom gathering." Somehow, if Fenway Park had 20,000 - 25,000 on hand for a Red Sox game (Fenway's capacity is 37,400, and every Red Sox game has been sold out for over six years), I doubt that Globe sports reporter Bob Ryan would describe it as "not fully attended."
Here are the first several paragraphs from each report. First, from the Herald:
Just from the title of today's Huffington Post cover story, Leaderless: Senate Pushes For Public Option Without Obama's Support, you can see that they have pretty much given up on counting on Barack Obama demonstrating leadership in the fight to pass ObamaCare. Here are Huffington Post correspondents Sam Stein and Ryan Grim registering their disgust with Obama in a grim story:
President Barack Obama is actively discouraging Senate Democrats in their effort to include a public insurance option with a state opt-out clause as part of health care reform. In its place, say multiple Democratic sources, Obama has indicated a preference for an alternative policy, favored by the insurance industry, which would see a public plan "triggered" into effect in the future by a failure of the industry to meet certain benchmarks.
The administration retreat runs counter to the letter and the spirit of Obama's presidential campaign. The man who ran on the "Audacity of Hope" has now taken a more conservative stand than Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), leaving progressives with a mix of confusion and outrage. Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill have battled conservatives in their own party in an effort to get the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster. Now tantalizingly close, they are calling for Obama to step up.
So who are they hoping will be their hero to save the day? Since it's not Obama, they are now placing their hopes upon Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid who is actually more like Al Capp's gloomy figure of Joe Btfsplk, who carries his bad luck with him as a perpetual raincloud over his head (illustration below the fold), than Mighty Mouse.
Earlier, Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., took on the issue and defended Fox and its audience. However, Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, also took on the White House and questioned why it would be something Obama and his administration should be concerned with in comments from the floor of the House of Representatives on Oct. 20.
The Washington Post touted a new poll on Tuesday that popular support is increasing for a government-run "public option" health care system – just as liberal Democrats try to push that into the Senate Finance Committee bill. The headline was "Public option gains support: Clear majority now backs plan." So it’s not surprising, as Ed Morrissey found at Hot Air, that the Post is stuffing its poll sample with a few extra Democrats:
The sampling comprises 33% Democrats, as opposed to only 20% Republicans. That thirteen-point spread is two points larger than their September polling, at 32%/21%. More tellingly, it’s significantly larger than their Election Day sample, which included 35% Democrats to 26% Republicans for a gap of nine points, about a third smaller than the gap in this poll. Of course, that’s when they were more concerned about accuracy over political points of view.
The Post’s poll (illustrated by a chart) found respondents favored a public option "to compete with" private insurance by a margin of 57 to 40 percent. But even with the polling sample tilted toward the Democrats, some less favorable findings weren’t in the headline, as Dan Balz and Jon Cohen reported:
On Tuesday’s Situation Room, CNN’s Jack Cafferty highlighted a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll which found that Americans apparently support the public option and mandatory insurance, and most of the viewer responses that he read supported these left-wing positions. Cafferty didn’t explicitly voice his agreement with the poll results, but presented his own liberal proposal for health care.
Cafferty touted how “a majority of Americans supports two of the more controversial parts of health care reform: the public option and requiring everyone to buy insurance” during his 4 pm “Question of the Hour” segment: “A new Washington Post/ABC News Poll shows independents and seniors, both critical voting blocs, have warmed up to the idea of a public insurance option. Fifty-seven percent favor the public option. Fifty-six percent support making it mandatory for all Americans to buy health insurance, either through their employers, on their own, or through Medicare or Medicaid.”
Ed Morrisey of HotAir.com pointed out on Tuesday morning that this poll has a skewed sample. On the other hand, the CNN commentator did however subsequently note that “there’s even broader opposition to how to pay for all of this. Sixty-one percent are opposed to the proposed tax on so-called Cadillac insurance plans, and nearly 70 percent say they think any health care bill will increase the federal deficit, although almost half of those people say it would be worth it to grow the deficit in order to achieve true health care reform.”
Well the verdict is in and it looks like the GOP has been severely damaged by its opposition to Obamacare, well at least that was the conclusion of all the liberal members of "The Chris Matthews Show" panel over the weekend. On the syndicated show, NBC's Kelly O'Donnell and HDNET's Dan Rather were unanimous that the "branding" of the GOP as "The Party Of No," has "hurt" them. The New York Times' Helene Cooper chimed in that the Republicans were "gonna be in a really tough spot," and the Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan judged "The town halls clearly hurt them. They turned the debate around in favor of the President."
The following exchanges were aired on the October 18 edition of "The Chris Matthews Show":
Demonstrating the media never tire in coming up with new rationales to tout President Barack Obama's popularity, ABC led Monday night with a polltimed to the night before Tuesday's nine-month mark of the Obama presidency -- as if that's some kind of important anniversary, and spent as much time on how it found record low affinity for Republicans. Anchor Charles Gibson announced “the President has a 57 percent approval rating, his rating rising for the first time since April. And only 20 percent of the country now consider themselves Republican. That is the lowest level of support in 26 years.”
In “perhaps the biggest surprise,” Gibson suggested, “57 percent support one of the [health] plan's most controversial elements -- perhaps the most controversial -- a government-sponsored insurance option,” though “fewer than half those polled agree with” Obama on health care as “45 percent approve of his plans for health care reform, 48 percent opposed.”
Emphasizing Obama's popularity compared to the GOP, George Stephanopoulos relayed how “we asked Americans 'who do you trust to make the right decisions for the country's future?' 49 percent said President Obama, only 19 percent said Republicans in Congress.” Stephanopoulos also contended “one of the most interesting numbers in the poll, Charlie, the President's highest ratings on how he's handled his responsibilities as Commander-in-Chief: 57 percent.”