The threat of a government-run public option plan in health care legislation was frightening enough to spur thousands of people to attend town hall meetings across the country and voice their dissent, sometimes angrily.
Now legislators and the national media are talking about a possible "compromise" that could replace the public option with health care co-ops. Conservatives are concerned that such an attempt will just be "government health care in yet another set of clothes," but national broadcast or print media have practically omitted that perspective.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., stirred up those concerns July 9 when he said, "We're going to have some type of public option, call it 'co-op,' call it what you want."
According to Nexis, ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN, as well as the five major newspapers, ignored this admission from Reid. In fact, on the three broadcast networks Reid wasn't even mentioned in any of the 21 health care co-op stories. More than half of those stories (12) used the word "compromise" to discuss the co-ops and only 2 conservatives critical of co-ops were included.
On Tuesday’s Situation Room, CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux questioned RNC Chairman Michael Steele about the debate over ObamaCare, and alleged that protesters “from your own party...have talked about and compared President Obama to Hitler” at the health care town halls. The anchor also bizarrely asked Steele if he gave Attorney General Holder “credit...for breaking away from President Obama.”
Midway through her interview with the GOP leader, Malveaux made the left-wing allegation that Republican activists were using Nazi imagery against the President at the town halls: “How honest do you think the debate has been- the discussion? In light of some of the town hall meetings, some of the rhetoric that we’ve seen from both sides, but specifically those who are from your own party who have talked about and compared President Obama to- to Hitler.”
CNN has raised the issue of the Nazi comparisons at the health care town halls in the past weeks, all the while making three significant omissions. First, they neglected to mention that early in August, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused the anti-ObamaCare protesters of “carrying swastikas and symbols like that to a town hall meeting on health care,” which led to Rush Limbaugh pointing out the similarities between the DNC health care logo and a Nazi symbol. They have also failed to mention that supporters of leftist Lyndon LaRouche bore posters of President Obama defaced with a Hitler mustache.
MSNBC News Live hosts David Shuster and Tamron Hall on Tuesday embraced a contrarian notion that the tide is shifting in favor of liberal health care reform. Interviewing a Democratic strategist-turned-left-wing columnist, whose political affiliations went unidentified, Shuster tried to be optimistic: "...If the anti, sort-of, reform crowd on the right owned the early part of August, you almost get the sense that things are starting to pick up on the left, as far as the last couple of weeks in this month."
Shuster talked to David Sirota, whom he identified simply as a "syndicated columnist." The cable anchor left out the fact that Sirota is a former Democratic/far-left operative who previously worked for, among others, socialist Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. One MSNBC graphic hopefully speculated that the country may be seeing a health care "momentum shift." Another touted, "Is Tide Beginning to Turn on Health Care Reform?"
During an interview with John McCain on Sunday’s This Week, George Stephanopoulos practically begged with the Arizona senator to repudiate "death panel" claims by former Governor Sarah Palin. Speaking of the health care bill, Stephanopoulos attacked euthanasia worries and lobbied, "[Obama] called that an extraordinary lie. And he is right about that, isn't he?"
The former top Clinton aide turned journalist reworked the same query four more times. After McCain referred to the fact that a Senate panel dropped a provision on end-of-life counseling, Stephanopoulos interrupted, "I don't think that's correct, Senator. The bill, all it said was that if a patient wanted to have a Medicare consultation about end of life issues, they could have it, at their request. And the doctor would get reimbursed for it. No panel."
Using a "clever" headline, LiveScience.com, in a report carried at Yahoo News, tries to give those who will only see the headline the impression that Americans are a bunch of dummies who don't understand what's good for them:
Majority of Americans Believe Health Care Reform 'Myths'
Yes, the word "myths" is in quotes, but the reader is left to assume that a credible outfit must be asserting what those "myths" are. But it's actually that less than credible outfit known as "the Obama White House," which claims that those who don't swallow their assertions are subscribing to "myths." The reality is that President Barack Obama and his apparatchiks continue to peddle a set of long-disproved assertions about the kind of health care plan he and the Democratic Congress intend to make law.
The good news is that the American people aren't buying most of what Obama et al are selling:
"I think right now for example, this health care debate looks like it's - we could lose it because I don't think [Obama] he has been tough enough," Maher said. "You know, he used to say in the campaign, ‘It's your time.' This is his time. He should get mad, stop [expletive] around."
One of the hurdles Obama is facing to get his brand of health care made law is some of the more moderate Democrats in the Senate aren't willing to agree to the far-reaching plan Obama and the Democratic congressional leadership want. Maher said it really didn't matter what they thought.
I don't anticipate that those in the UK who are rushing to the defense of their precious National Health Service (NHS) will be bringing up the item that follows any time soon, nor do I expect the U.S. statist heath care cheerleaders to take note of it.
The UK Daily Mail tells us that NHS is importing general practitioners who commute from foreign countries. Wait until you see the reason why, and the effect it has had on patient care.
Here are key paragraphs from the report by Rebecca Cambers:
As the national debate roils on about the proposed public option for health care and as newspapers face declining fortunes, one might think major newspaper editors would jump at the chance to front-page a story of government-run health care negligence.
Army veteran Juan Rivera reported to the veterans hospital in Miami for a routine colonoscopy in May 2008. Almost a year later, the 55-year-old father of two learned that the Department of Veterans Affairs had not properly sterilized the equipment used for the procedure.
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.”