The New York Times and the Washington Post had a pretty profound disagreement this morning on whether or not Obama has a chance to get a health care "reform" proposal through Congress this year, with the Times, predictably, being far more optimistic about prospects for the president's big-government health plan.
In their heart of hearts, few in the Obama administration would have predicted late last year that they would be this well positioned by June to achieve a major victory on health care. As the economy faltered, and attention focused on Wall Street and Detroit, it seemed unthinkable that Congress would be ready to devote the summer of 2009 to the costly proposition of providing health coverage for all, a goal that has eluded presidents since Theodore Roosevelt.
But five months after the inauguration, health care dominates the domestic agenda on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. Any package that emerges will preserve the country's private insurance system, at least for now. It could nonetheless bring sweeping changes, requiring that everyone be insured, creating a government health plan to compete with commercial carriers and perhaps taxing employer-provided health benefits.
By contrast, the top two paragraphs of Ceci Connolly's lead story in Friday's Washington Post seem to have come from an alternate universe:
How many uninsured Americans are there really? It’s a number that the mainstream media have repeatedly misrepresented to make the health care “crisis” seem worse than it is. Business & Media Institute’s Julia A. Seymour hammered this point in an apprearance on Fox Business. Seymour exposed the common error by breaking down the actual number to more than 30 million less than the media claim it is. Journalists have used the statistic of 46 million-47 million uninsured Americans, but as Seymour told Fox Business, this number was wildy inflated. “The Census Bureau comes up with this number and they said that the number of uninsured is really 45.6 million people. But that's total people, and that includes almost 10 million who are non-citizens,” Seymour clarified.
Earlier today, Julia A. Seymour of the Media Research Center's Business & Media Institute (BMI) pointed to a fact-check done by her group showing that "from January 20 to June 16 those quoted in health care stories on ABC's morning and evening news shows favored ObamaCare by a 3-to-1 margin (55 supporters to 18 critics)."
You think that margin is bad; wait until you see the ratio at ABC of Obama vs. McCain campaign contributions.
Centering its story around a man unable to get “affordable” health insurance after a battle with cancer, Thursday's NBC Nightly News devoted its “In-Depth” segment to the “public option,” what anchor Brian Williams innocuously described as “a government insurance program similar to Medicare, but available to those under 65.” NBC didn't mention conservative concern such a program would become a “slippery slope” toward a single-payer system since the government could under-price private insurers.
Reporter Robert Bazell focused on Chuck Bille, who “at 61 loves the outdoors and feels healthy, but Bille had leukemia that is now in remission. And recently, he was laid off from his job that had provided health insurance.” Bazell contended “covering people like Bille who can't get affordable insurance is one of the most contentious issues in health reform,” so “some want a new government program, similar to Medicare, as an option for those who can't get or don't want employer-based insurance.” A university professor then enthused: “It could offer much broader coverage, more benefits, more services, deeper coverage, thereby allowing people a choice of a product that actually is tailored to their needs.”
While President Barack Obama's health care plan is garnering plenty of media attention including two prominent spots on ABC, Fox News host Glenn Beck says the plan won't even help the poor get insurance.
"Look, it doesn't even make sense," Beck said. "When you start to look at it, they're talking about savings, but their savings come from moving people from Medicaid over to universal health. We're also leaving, I think it's 33 or 39 million people off the roles. They - we're not even talking about people who are making less than $33,000."
ABC found itself in hot water this week after it announced on June 15 it would be airing a primetime special, "Questions for the President: Prescription for America," on June 24 from the White House. ABC also said "Good Morning America" and "World News" would also be broadcast from the White House that day.
ABC News' senior vice president Kerry Smith defended the network against critics saying in a letter the hour-long special from the White House will be "devoted to exploring and probing the President's position and the giving voice to questions and criticisms of that position."
Smith also claimed the network has "had many critics of the President's health care proposals on the air - and that's before a real plan has even been put before the country. In the end, no one watching, listening to, or reading ABC News will lack for an understanding of all sides of these important questions."
MRC's Business & Media Institute fact checked that claim and found that from January 20 to June 16 those quoted in health care stories on ABC's morning and evening news shows favored ObamaCare by a 3-to-1 margin (55 supporters to 18 critics).
MRC President Brent Bozell sat down in the Fox News DC bureau yesterday morning to record his reaction to ABC News's planned special at the White House on health care. [audio available here]
Fox News Channel ran Mr. Bozell's comments in news updates throughout the day, including a full story by correspondent Mike Emanuel that aired during "Special Report with Bret Baier":
Just try to put into context how ridiculous this ABC quote-unquote discussion is. Just try to imagine a world wherein ABC would give George W. Bush a two-hour opportunity to have a quote-unquote "discussion with the American people" on the war on terror.
So, not only is ABC not planning to include opposing voices to President Obama's health care proposals during its special presentation next week -- though ABC does claim "those in the audience" will ask questions of the president -- it is refusing to even allow groups that oppose Obamacare to purchase paid-for advertisements to air during the healthcare special.
Rick Scott, chairman of Conservatives for Patients Rights, contacted ABC and inquired about purchasing some ad time during the Obama infomercial, but was refused the sale. Scott wanted to air his 60-second ad before the healthcare show started. Though it was refused by the national network, apparently it is still possible for Scott the buy time on local affiliates should he desire it.
MRC President Brent Bozell sat down in the Fox News DC bureau on June 17 to record his reaction to ABC News's planned special at the White House on health care.
During the 1 p.m. EDT hour, correspondent Mike Emanuel aired one small portion of his comments [audio available here]:
Just try to imagine a world wherein ABC would give George W. Bush a two-hour opportunity to have a quote-unquote "discussion with the American people" on the war on terror. They didn't even cover some of his press conferences.
Calling it an "all-day home field advantage play for Obama and his position on health care," MRC's Seton Motley noted on the June 17 Fox News Channel program "America's Newsroom" that an upcoming ABC network special hosted at the White House will fail to include the other side of the complex policy argument. [audio available here]
Although there will also be a question and answer section with participants picked by ABC News, the planned special will not include a response from Republicans or government-run health care critics.
ABC "has a history of going as far left as possible with these specials and yielding time to Democrats when they won't yield to Republicans," Motley argued. The MRC Director of Communications pointed out that Linda Douglass, White House Director of Communications, served as an ABC News correspondent from 1998 to 2006.
ABC and CBS's morning shows on Wednesday both provided surprisingly tough questioning to Christina Romer, one of Barack Obama's economic advisors. On the issue of health care, Good Morning America co-host Diane Sawyer compared the costs of Medicare to the new health care plan and pointed out past government inaccuracies when it came to accessing cost.
She grilled, "You know, in 1965, everyone was told that over 25 years, the cost of Medicare would be $12 billion. The actual cost, $107 billion." Sawyer added, "Ten-times what the estimate was. Can you know this cost? And can you guarantee it's not going to be more than the administration believes?" Early Show co-host Maggie Rodriguez quizzed Romer, the Chairwoman of the President's Council of Economic Advisors, on Obama's repeated insistence that he has no interest in meddling in the private sector. She wondered, "He sounds like he's being forced to do these things. If he believes that big government is actually a bad thing, why doesn't he at least try less intrusive options, which are certainly be offered up?"
ABC's "Prescription for America" special plugging the Obama health-nationalization plan is not the first time a network has taken on such a task. NBC did the same thing for Hillary-care in the summer of 1994, but with a twist: its two-hour special was commercial-free, paid for by the liberal Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. From the July 1994 edition of our newsletter MediaWatch:
NBC raised a lot of eyebrows by accepting $3.5 million from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for its two-hour, commercial-free June 21 health care special, To Your Health. Five foundation fellows served on Hillary Clinton's secret task force, and when that secrecy became an issue, the foundation spent $500,000 for four town meetings featuring the First Lady.
In 1991, foundation president Dr. Steven Schroeder told The Chronicle of Philanthropy: "We are very conscious that fundamental change [in health] is not going to happen without government...Many of our recent grants have been predicated on the idea that we would get government involved."
ABC has made the unprecedented move of giving prime-time programing air time to President Barack Obama for a health care reform special to be aired next week. Perhaps it is not too surprising that Obama has landed himself some prime viewing time on ABC. After all, former ABC News correspondent Linda Douglass is now the Director of Communications for the Obama White House Office of Health Reform. Coincidence? One would be excused to suspect it.
A calm Sunday breakfast might have been ruined after a glance at The Washington Post’s front page on June 14. A chart below the fold explained that under Obama’s federal spending proposals, the United States would be required to borrow $9 trillion during the next decade. That’s $9,000,000,000,000. The Post compared that, in today’s dollars, to the financial burden of World War II: $3.6 trillion. That’s not all of Obama’s spending plan. That’s only the part that’s in the red.
Is it any wonder that a recent Gallup poll found more people disapprove rather than approve of Obama’s handling of the deficit? But we’ve only just begun. Now President Obama wants to add another enormous chunk of government health-care spending. The Congressional Budget Office projects that the latest Democratic bill in the Senate would add another one trillion dollars to the budget over the next decade, and they suggest that’s only a partial estimate.
Reality catches up with CBS News which on Tuesday night ran a “Reality Check” story on how a new CBO report shows President Obama's claim that his government-expansion health care plan won't hike the deficit doesn't match reality. So, will ABC News display similar skepticism when it broadcasts GMA and World News from the White House next Wednesday, culminating in a prime time hour, “Questions for the President: Prescription for America”? (ABC's Jake Tapper on Monday night briefly cited the CBO report, but ABC and NBC were silent on Tuesday evening.)
Fill-in CBS Evening News anchor Jeff Glor announced “there are growing concerns that President Obama lacks a realistic plan to pay for this sweeping reform.” Reporter Wyatt Andrews related “how the nation really pays for health reform just got a shocking wake-up call. The Congressional Budget Office, CBO, said Senator Ted Kennedy's health care proposal could cost one trillion dollars over ten years, and 36 million Americans would still be uninsured.” Andrews proceeded to note how Obama “claims he can achieve reform without raising the deficit,” but, he asserted, “the fact is, this means raising taxes.” Andrews also pointed out that Obama's “more than $600 billion worth of spending cuts” to Medicare and other programs don't comport with inevitable resistance from hospitals.
The Associated Press posted an "analysis" piece by writer Tom Raum on June 15 to address the GOP strategy against Obamacare and other administration policies but the APs characterization of the GOPs efforts almost seem meant to belittle and de-legitimize that opposition as opposed to describing it. The entire GOP argument against Obama is boiled down to a use of "buzz words" as far as AP's Raum is concerned. Apparently, no political truth or ideological disagreement really enters into it. Only "tactic," and "strategy" built on "buzz words" and "fear" is offered by the GOP instead of real issues according to the AP.
In "GOP using buzz words to taunt Democrats," with a subhead of "Republicans claim Obama embraces 'socialism,'" Raum never once admits that Republicans just might have a principled ideological opposition to Obama's policies leaving readers to get the vague feeling that the GOP is trying just anything to find a winning issue. Further, the entire article is premised as if the Democrats are correct and the GOP is just trying to chip away at their essentially correct stand on the issues. AP even presents a lefty professor to shore up the AP point of view -- naturally the professor's propensities are not divulged.
President Barack Obama created “a very tender moment,” as he addressed the American Medical Association in Chicago, and “was right on target at reaching out to the heart of most physicians” ABC's Dr. Tim Johnson beamed on Monday's World News in reaction to fill-in anchor George Stephanopoulos paraphrasing how Obama told the doctors “our health care system should let them be healers, again, instead of bean counters.”
Johnson is a long-time advocate for a major expansion of the government's role in health care. On the March 1 World News, Johnson complained: “We spend more than twice as much per person on health care in this country as the average of all other industrialized countries, yet we’re the only one that doesn’t have universal coverage. That’s a national shame.” A few days later, Johnson participated in Obama’s health care forum, then expressed awe: “I was blown away by President Obama’s grasp of the subject, how he connected the dots, how he answered the questions without any script.” More in the MRC BiasAlert by Rich Noyes, “ABC Picks Universal Health Care Fan for Obama Health Care Special.”
The day pain died What really happened during the most famous moment in Boston medicine
The date of the first operation under anesthetic, Oct. 16, 1846, ranks among the most iconic in the history of medicine. It was the moment when Boston, and indeed the United States, first emerged as a world-class center of medical innovation. The room at the heart of Massachusetts General Hospital where the operation took place has been known ever since as the Ether Dome, and the word "anesthesia" itself was coined by the Boston physician and poet Oliver Wendell Holmes to denote the strange new state of suspended consciousness that the city's physicians had witnessed. The news from Boston swept around the world, and it was recognized within weeks as a moment that had changed medicine forever.
Wow. Pretty bracing stuff, except for one thing: A commenter named "introp" told the Globe (currently the fourth comment down) that they're wrong about Morton being first.
ABC News announced on Monday that Dr. Tim Johnson, a longtime advocate for government-run health care, will be participating in a primetime special on the subject, airing on June 24 and being broadcast from the White House. The doctor, who has aggressively lobbied in support of universal health care for over 15 years, will also appear on that day's Good Morning America, a show that will feature Diane Sawyer's interview with Barack Obama.
This is the same Johnson, who, on July 19, 1994, talked to then-First Lady Hillary Clinton about a similar health care plan. He gushed, "So at least from the physicians represented here, you get a 100 percent vote, including mine, for universal coverage." On October 19, 2007, he spoke to Clinton again and noted that she considered the issue a moral one. "Do you think the Republicans who are against it are immoral," he wondered. A selection of some of Johnson's more biased health care-related comments can be found below:
Back in 2005, the Old Media was all atwitter over a supposed "plant reporter" at a Bush press conference. The Old Media made a big deal out of this guy and used it to try and cast the Bush White House as employing some sort of underhanded control of information. Flash forward to today, President Obama held his Healthcare townhall in Green Bay, Wisconsin. It turns out that Obama's first "spontaneous question" from the audience sure seems like a "plant" in the same way as the previously mentioned situation in 2005. Will the media take notice?
Naturally, President Obama wants people to think his "townhall meetings" are legitimately open to just any American to attend to ask him the tough questions. The June 11 meeting on Healthcare, of course, was supposed to feature spontaneous questions for the president from the audience about a takeover of nearly 20% of the nation's economy with his healthcare plans. But a closer look at this townhall in Green Bay, Wisconsin, might disabuse anyone of the notion that spontaneous questions really were taken from the audience.
I don't take Ed Schultz too seriously. So when he says again tonight, as he did in the inaugural episode of his MSNBC show, that he wants national health care and doesn't care how much it costs, it's just so much noise.
But, at least in theory, E.J. Dionne, Jr. is a serious player, a card-carrying member of the liberal establishment. So when the WaPo columnist declares that he doesn't want nationalized health care stopped by the mere issue of figuring out how to pay for it, that gets my attention.
Incredibly, that's precisely what Dionne did on this evening's Ed Show.
President Obama is making his big health insurance push and The Washington Post is right there beside him, helping make his “ambitious” case. The June 9 Post detailed the “inequities, shortcomings, waste and even dangers in the hodgepodge of uncoordinated medical services that consume nearly one-fifth of the nation’s economy.”
The Ceci Connolly article argued everyone agrees the health-care system must be changed. “On that point there is rare unanimity among Washington decision makers: The U.S. health system needs a major overhaul,” she wrote.
Connolly certainly made it seem that way, including only two conservative voices who also argued for sweeping changes to our health insurance system. One of those two, Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), was originally nominated Obama’s Commerce Secretary.
There were other problems with Connolly’s story, including some of the other facts she used in her article, such as the number of Americans in need of health insurance. “Today, about 46 million Americans have no health insurance, so they go without or wait in emergency rooms for expensive, belated care,” she wrote, mischaracterizing the actual total by 10 million people or more.
Pete Peterson is a billionaire, a former commerce secretary, and successful entrepreneur, so one would think an interview with him would be a chance to push for specific observations and prescriptions for the U.S. economy. But if one were watching ABC’s “Good Morning America” on June 9, one would be wrong. Petersen was promoting his new book, “The Education of an American Dreamer,” in an interview with Diane Sawyer. But during the segment, Sawyer tossed him softball questions and allowed him to offer only vague, liberal policy prescriptions.
Sawyer, who raved about Peterson’s “national commitment to the old American values,” asked him, “But everyone keeps saying that we had to plunge all this bailout money into the economy in order to stave out an absolute cataclysm?”
In the second half of his op-ed in the Washington Post today, former Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev entirely credits himself and fellow countrymen for the end of his country's Communist dictatorship, and claims that it's the Western capitalist model that is currently failing.
In the process, he espouses positions that seem to have been copied from the Democratic Party's past few platforms, as well as from U.S. Dear Leader Barack Obama's governing model.
Following Gobachev's ridiculous rewrite of the Soviet Union's final decade (you know it's ridiculous because the name "Reagan" never appears; he doesn't even believe that the break-up should have happened), here are key passages from the former dictator's admonishments of the West (the most obvious direct lifts from Obama and Dems are in bold):
Actor, director and screenwriter Liev Schreiber thinks America needs a replay of propagandist filmmaker Michael Moore's "Sicko."
According to Schreiber's June 5 remarks on The Daily Beast's Buzz Board, Moore's movie would be "worthwhile" as the health care debate begins.
"As the health-care debate gets under way, a replay of Sicko is worthwhile. It's preposterous that there still isn't affordable health care in this country," wrote Schreiber.
Schreiber admitted that "Moore's approach to filmmaking is the theatrical equivalent of Artaud; he just wants to shock people into action, and he does a damn good job of it. I don't have a problem with that style if the intention is good, and in this case, the intention is good."
An interesting twist in last week's arrest of four Muslim men charged with plotting to bomb New York synagogues was reported Monday: the younger brother of one had a deadly liver disease that Medicaid wouldn't cover.
Makes you wonder if this revelation will be used by media to advance President Obama's universal healthcare plans.
Nortin Hadler, M.D. is a "professor of medicine and microbiology/immunology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and an attending rheumatologist at University of North Carolina Hospitals."
He also thinks that a number of procedures commonly thought of as beneficial have no or very minimal benefit.
The fact that ABC is carrying Hadler's exhortations may be a clue that the network is in the tank for anything that would appear to promote government intervention in the medical system. That appears to be where Hader is ultimately going.
Judge for yourself when you see the list of procedures Hadler believes are either not beneficial, or are very minimally so:
On Tuesday’s CBS Early Show co-host Harry Smith repeated liberal talking points while asking Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius about President Obama’s plan to nationalize the health care system: "People get worried when the idea of somebody messing with their health care comes along, but the fact is, is we spend trillions of dollars on health care every year, and if anything is helping or contributing to killing the economy, it's that cost. Why is it so important that this be dealt with?"
Sebelius easily hit that softball: "It isn't about cutting services. It's about doing smarter, more efficient, better medicine for the American people. Too many Americans now come through the doors of an emergency room. Most expensive, least effective care...And frankly, there's a lot more efficiency we can gain in terms of lowering drug costs, lowering costs across the board without cutting services."
Smith concluded the interview by wishing Sebelius "good luck" on implementing the massive government expansion.
The food police are at it again telling us what and how to eat. This time, they're attacking the restaurant industry under the premise the general public is too ignorant to determine what is healthy and what isn't.
"A well-known health group is out with a new warning about America's most popular chain restaurants saying many of their meals have dangerous amounts of salt," "World News" anchor Charles Gibson said. "The Center for Science in the Public Interest checked 102 meals and found 85 of them had more than a day's worth of sodium."
The nation's gaffer-in-chief Joe Biden really stepped in it last week with his remarks about how Americans should avoid flying and taking the subway to avert coming down with the swine flu. It's safe to say the conventional wisdom around the country and inside the Beltway is that Biden really blundered.
But not to Newsweek's Conventional Wisdom, which in the May 11-18 edition gave Obama's veep a mere sideways arrow, hinting that role in pushing Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.) to become a Democrat mitigates his political foot-in-mouth disease:
Biden: Stupidly tells “Today” we shouldn’t travel. Stick to bringing GOPs across the aisle.
Of course, that presumes Specter as newly-minted Democrat is a master stroke, which is not necessarily the case. Indeed the evidence seems to point to the contrary.