The mainstream press has a habit of playing up poll results it likes without really scrutinizing the numbers underlying them.
ObamaCare-related polls, for some reason have often been simply repeated without careful examination. One such survey, conducted late last year, showed an increase in popularity for the law, but no media outlet that reported on it mentioned the poll's 15-point Democratic slant.
The latest ObamaCare poll to receive intense media focus, an AP/GfK survey, showed a decline in opposition to the law. The AP reported its findings thusly:
- Since Obama took office, only 16 percent of health care stories mentioning the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) included any criticism of their accounting, despite criticism from many conservative and libertarian experts as well as the former head of CBO.
- Networks reporters and guests emphasized the CBO's integrity calling them "non-partisan," "independent" and the "referee" or "arbiter" of legislation costs. CBS's Nancy Cordes even declared them to be "trusted by both parties as the authority on budget matters."
The new majority in the House of Representatives has made it clear that voting on a full repeal of ObamaCare is its top priority, something a majority of Americans support. But their resolution, H.R. 2, has come under fire from the left and the liberal news media over the deficit.
Democrats, including Rep. Rob Andrews, D-N.J., claimed that House Republicans "are breaking their first promise in their first week" because the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said that repealing the health care bill would add $230 billion to the deficit over 10 years.
CBS's Katie Couric called it "new ammunition" for Democrats on Jan 6, 2011, and on the network news that proved to be the case.
That "ammunition" used to portray the GOP as fiscal hypocrites has also been criticized as "nonsense," not that you'd know it from the network news media.
Two particularly peculiar bits of reasoning Friday night from Bill Maher on the season premiere of his HBO show, Real Time with Bill Maher, starting with his bizarre explanation for why Jared Lee Loughner was able to commit mass murder. After panelist Chrystia Freeland, global editor-at-large for Thomson Reuters, trumped how her native Canada has “universal health care,” Maher jumped in to assert:
Because we don't have government health care, that's one reason why a crazy person gets a gun because, you know what, it’s hard for a crazy person to get a job, so therefore it’s hard for them to get heath care in a country that doesn’t have government- (Audio: MP3 clip)
The conversation moved on and Maher never offered any further explanation, if there could even have been any which made any sense.
Talk about incendiary and toxic talk. In Friday’s Washington Post, business section columnist Steven Pearlstein proclaimed that “what's particularly noteworthy about” congressional Republican “fixation with ‘job killing’” Democratic policies, such as Obamacare, “is that it stands in such contrast to the complete lack of concern about policies that kill people rather than jobs.”
Pearlstein, a former reporter who won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, charged: “Repealing health-care reform, for instance, would inevitably lead to thousands of unnecessary deaths each year because of an inability to get medical care.”
With Republicans taking control of Congress, those in the media suddenly feel that proposing legislation, such as repealing ObamaCare, is a waste of time. From CBS's Harry Smith referring to it as "a fool's errand" to MSNBC's Chuck Todd fretting over the GOP "relitigating health care," here is a video compilation of the slanted coverage this proposal has received.
Despite virtually all economists and the Chairman of the Federal Reserve finding Friday's unemployment report disappointing, MSNBC's Ed Schultz parroted President Obama's take that the numbers released by the Labor Department were good news.
The "Ed Show" host crowed so gleefully about the much-maligned data that he even said it was evidence the 2009 stimulus package worked (video follows with transcript and commentary):
When will the government stop wasting taxpayer dollars? In a new public service announcement, Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative twists Disney’s classic "Beauty and the Beast" into an animated production telling parents how to have healthy children.
Perhaps the choice of a Disney cartoon is appropriate, since the liberal nanny-state insists on treating Americans as children. The United States Department of Agriculture, along with the Ad Council and the “Let’s Move” initiative managed to waste money telling parents that children should eat vegetables and play outside.
In an “exclusive” interview with new House Speaker John Boehner for Thursday’s NBC Nightly News, Brian Williams told Boehner the promised vote to repeal ObamaCare has “been called a stunt,” pressed him to justify repealing it given many would not call it “the best health care delivery system in the world because they, by the millions, weren't getting it” and demanded to know “where are you getting the notion...the American people want it repealed” given polling was “very evenly split on that?”
Then he held Boehner responsible for a “birther” woman in the gallery who shouted out “except Obama” as a Congressman on the floor was reading aloud the part of the Constitution requiring the President to be a “natural born citizen”:
I'm curious as to how much responsibility you feel -- specifically, because of something that happened this morning. During the reading of the Constitution, Congressman Frank Pallone of New Jersey was reading a portion of the document interrupted by someone who heckled from within the chamber. It was to express doubt over the President's American citizenship.
Reporting that House Republicans will soon be voting to repeal President Obama's "job-killing" health care law, MSNBC anchor Contessa Brewer wondered if the GOP should take a different route to save jobs. During her Thursday 12 p.m. EST news hour, she revealed a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report estimating that a repeal of the health care law will cost $230 billion over the next ten years.
Disregarding the GOP arguments for repealing ObamaCare, Brewer wondered aloud about the merits of the $230 billion being invested in re-education of unemployed persons.
"What would happen," Brewer asked Prof. Robert Reich of the University of California at Berkeley, "if you took $230 billion and instead put that toward re-education of the nation's unemployed?"
On Thursday's CBS Early Show, congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes derided Republican efforts to repeal ObamaCare: "On Friday, they begin their assault on health care reform, with a vote to repeal the law scheduled for next week."
Cordes noted how repeal "will hit a wall in the Senate," observing: "That legislative reality will force both sides to work together on some issues, something Speaker Boehner promised to Democrats." However, moments later she touted Democratic accusations of GOP partisanship: "Democrats are already crying foul, saying that that vote to repeal health care is being held without holding hearings first, without allowing amendments, a move that they argue flies in the face of all those promises of openness."
The 112th Congress took office Jan. 5 and the new Republican majority in the House of Representatives planned to immediately tackle the unpopular health care legislation signed into law in 2010.
The Washington Post reported that House Republicans intend to vote on a repeal of ObamaCare Jan. 12, just one week into the new congressional session.
"ObamaCare is a job-killer for businesses small and large, and the top priority for House Republicans is going to be to cut spending and grow the economy and jobs," Brad Dayspring, spokesman for incoming House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., was quoted by the Post.
That attempt to repeal has been mentioned in many network reports lately, but the public's dislike of the legislation has been missing from most ABC, CBS and NBC news stories between Dec. 5 and Jan. 4.
According to Rasmussen Reports, 60 percent of likely voters favor repeal of the health care law - for the second week in a row. Since the first week of December the percentage favoring repeal has not dropped below 55 percent, and has been between 50 and 63 percent since March of 2010. Those polls were not mentioned in any of the network stories referencing the "controversial" health care legislation.
Only four, out of 63 network stories mentioning ObamaCare legislation in the past month said anything about public opinion of the bill. Only two of those stories, both by ABC, cited any polling data on the issue. In both of those mentions, reporters for ABC admitted that the bill is at "its lowest level of popularity ever" and cited an ABC News/Washington Post poll that found 52 percent of people oppose the bill.
On Tuesday's CBS Evening News, correspondent Michelle Miller lectured Americans on their diet: "According to Consumer Reports Health, many Americans are simply deluding themselves, most say they eat well but don't....85% of Americans rarely, if ever, count calories. Another 79% never set foot on a scale."
At one point, Miller stopped by a New York City restaurant and warned: "...people have good intentions...but often sabotage themselves." She then harassed one patron eating a salad: "Take a look at this green salad with all that caesar dressing. Don't you think the dressing sort of ruins it for you?" The unidentified man replied: "Well, otherwise I'm not going to be able to eat it."
Talking to Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer on Wednesday's Early Show, co-host Chris Wragge saw efforts to repeal ObamaCare as a political liability: "How risky a proposition is this for Republicans incoming now?" Schieffer dismissed it as, "a lot of shouting, hollering, and symbolic votes," adding, "we've got a couple of months before anything really serious is going to happen."
Wragge went on to cite liberal New York Times writer Matt Bai, who claimed Republicans had no real political mandate despite extensive victories in November: "Once you win, the human tendency is to credit the gravitational force of your own ideas, to assume that you made a more compelling and more substantive case than you actually did." Wragge asked Schieffer: "Is that what we may see in the early days from the Republican leadership here, do you think?"
On Tuesday's CBS Early Show, senior White House correspondent Bill Plante warned that as President Obama returns from vacation, " the new Republican majority in the House is ready to pounce." Plante went on to declare that the House GOP "slammed" Obama by scheduling a vote to repeal "his signature health care bill" on January 12.
Plante parroted Democratic talking points denouncing the repeal effort: "Senate Democrats fired back in a letter, warning that to do so would be 'irresponsible and reckless at a time when it is becoming harder and harder for seniors to afford a healthy retirement.'" He then concluded: "Both sides know that the House vote is purely symbolic. With no chance that the Senate Democrats will agree to kill health care."
Monday's "Morning Joe" panel on MSNBC mocked the House Republicans' plan to vote to repeal President Obama's health care legislation in full. "Waste of time" and "meaningless legislative exercise" were some of the phrases used to describe the first announced GOP priority.
"It's going to take them fifteen minutes, they're going to vote to repeal it, and the Senate's not going to do it," explained co-host Joe Scarborough. "It is a meaningless legislative exercise, but you know what? The base will like it."
"Republicans in Washington are planning to waste some time. Is anyone surprised by that?" co-host Mika Brzezinski tersely introduced the segment in the 7 a.m. EDT news hour.
Both Scarborough and Brzezinski sarcastically mocked the plan. "Good for them. Thank you," Brzezinski spat. "You are big men," she derided the House Republicans. "You so tough," Scarborough chimed in, followed by Brzezinski making strange growling noises.
Reporting on Monday's CBS Early Show, congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes decried House Republicans attempting to repeal ObamaCare: "...they made it clear they'll try to use their 49-vote advantage to wipe out key Democratic legislation from 2010. Including the President's signature achievement, health care reform."
Following Cordes's report, co-host Erica Hill asked political analyst John Dickerson about the likelihood of repeal. After Dickerson explained that repeal could not pass, a relieved Hill declared: "So, folks who like it may not have to worry about it? Because there are certain provisions that have actually gone over well with a fair number of Americans. Things like keeping your adult children on you're insurance and of course those lifetime coverage limits." Dickerson agreed: "And new things that people will like are coming on line with the new year. Middle income seniors will see – get some relief in the prescription drug prices."
On Sunday's Face the Nation, substitute host Harry Smith dismissed GOP goals of "dismantling health care" as merely a "fool's errand."
Filling in for Bob Schieffer on Sunday's Face the Nation, CBS's Harry Smith grilled Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann on Republican efforts to repeal ObamaCare: "One of the things the Tea Party has talked about is dismantling health care. And we're wondering if, in the end of the day, that ends up being a fool's errand...it will face a certain veto. Is it worth the effort to try to do?"
Bachmann defended the move and pointed out popular support for repeal: "ObamaCare will bankrupt the country. And so you've seen that the more the people learn about ObamaCare the less they like it. It's very costly, it's unwieldy. So we will put forth a clean repeal bill of ObamaCare. And you'll continue to see us make that fight because that's what the American people want us to do."
If Pres. Obama's signal fight in the coming year will be preserving ObamaCare, he can count on at least one ally in his struggle with Republicans: ABC News and in particular its Political Director, Amy Walter.
On GMA today, Walter issued a stern warning to Republicans who might have the audacity of hoping to repeal ObamaCare. The segment began with a montage of Republicans vowing to do so, including an oddly mocking replay of a Mitch McConnell moment.
Then Walter appeared and pronounced her admonition. View video after the jump.
For the last 17 years, ABC's medical editor, Dr. Tim Johnson, has hyped various forms of government-run health care. He continued that pattern on Tuesday's Good Morning America, promoting Barack Obama's 2010 law and ignoring the its unpopular aspects.
Talking to guest co-host Chris Cuomo, he enthused, "Many issues have already gone into effect and people like them." Johnson did allow that the bill was "controversial," However, he added, "But, there's many features in this bill, that if they go into effect, could help control costs and improve quality."
However, he didn't explain that the legislation as a whole remains unpopular. According to a new CNN poll, 54 percent oppose it. Also unmentioned was a Washington Post report that few Americans are signing up for a provision of the legislation allowing sick individuals to have their medical costs covered.
Reporters who are fully convinced of ObamaCare's tremendous benefits are apt to play off the new law's unpopularity with voters to a failure of messaging. For all the news accounts that have done so, a piece in Sunday's Washington Post takes the cake.
Liberals have claimed that conservatives wage a war on "science," but when it comes to social liberalism, they are often at odds with scientific reality. For example, they will define a woman as "He" and a man as "She" if the person in question simply decides that's how they want to be addressed. Or, in Thursday's Washington Post, the words "reproductive care" are used, without quotes, to describe anti-reproductive actions like abortion and contraception. The ACLU is waging war on Catholic-owned hospitals, and Rob Stein began their publicity drive with this paragraph:
The American Civil Liberties Union on Wednesday asked federal health officials to ensure that Catholic hospitals provide emergency reproductive care to pregnant women, saying the refusal by religiously affiliated hospitals to provide abortion and other services was becoming an increasing problem.
This matches the media template, in which abortion itself is never a social "problem" -- only the lack of "access" to it is a problem. There are no "liberals" in this piece, only "reproductive health advocates," which again is a factually inaccurate adjective:
As more hospitals have been taken over by Catholic hospital chains in recent years, reproductive health advocates have become increasingly concerned that fewer medical centers will provide abortion, contraception and other reproductive services.
Gordon Peterson on Friday asked either a staggeringly ignorant or intentionally provocative question.
On the most recent installment of PBS's "Inside Washington," the host queried his guests, "Why is it constitutional to require Americans to buy automobile insurance but un-Constitutional to force them to buy health insurance?" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
ABC's "Nightline" touted a PolitiFact story Thursday that rated the five biggest lies of 2010 in politics. The number one lie? Republicans calling the health care bill a "government takeover of health care."
When asked why the claim received the status of biggest lie of the year, PolitiFact.com editor Bill Adair answered that it was "so pervasive" and "just not true."
"It was so pervasive. It was said by the Republican leadership, by Republicans running for Congress, said by Republicans running for governor. And it's just not true. This is a plan that uses the private health insurance system to expand health care coverage."
While the bill does not constitute a single-payer health care system, the 2,200 pages of legislation nonetheless contain countless new rules and regulations enforced by the Department of Health and Human Services, among other federal institutions.
Time's Kate Pickert sees trouble on the horizon for ObamaCare with another federal judge hinting he may find the individual mandate provision of the legislation unconstitutional.
Pickert promises such a ruling by federal District Court Judge Roger Vinson "would be a second brutal court blow to the Obama Administration."
Nowhere in her brief December 16 blog post did Pickert entertain the notion that the individual mandate itself is a "brutal blow" to individual liberty or the notion of limited constitutional government.
New York Times writer David Leonhardt is not happy with a judge’s ruling a vital part of Obama-care – the individual insurance mandate – is unconstitutional. In his latest front-page “Economic Scene” column, “In Health Law, Old Arguments Get New Airing,” the paper’s neo-liberal conscience on economic matters compared conservative opposition to Obama-care not only to past opposition to Medicare, but to opposition to civil rights for black Americans.
“We are against forcing all citizens, regardless of need, into a compulsory government program,” said one prominent critic of the new health care law. It is socialized medicine, he argued. If it stands, he said, “one of these days, you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children, and our children’s children, what it once was like in America when men were free.”
The health care law in question was Medicare, and the critic was Ronald Reagan. He made the leap from actor to political activist, almost 50 years ago, in part by opposing government-run health insurance for the elderly.
Today, the supposed threat to free enterprise is a law that’s broader, if less radical, than Medicare: the bill Congress passed this year to create a system of privately run health insurance for everyone. On Monday, a federal judge ruled part of the law to be unconstitutional, and the Supreme Court will probably need to settle the matter in the end.
We’ve lived through a version of this story before, and not just with Medicare. Nearly every time this country has expanded its social safety net or tried to guarantee civil rights, passionate opposition has followed.
In an otherwise decent article in today's Washington Post, staffer Amy Goldstein suggested that the U.S. health insurance industry is ideologically conservative despite its support for the controversial and unconstitutional "individual mandate" provision of ObamaCare.
The debate over whether the mandate is essential does not split neatly along ideological lines. The insurance industry, a part of the health-care system that the White House has vilified, shares the administration's view that the mandate must accompany other insurance rules in the law.
Ed Schultz on Tuesday abruptly ended an interview with a Republican strategist when she accused him of lying to his audience about the significance of Monday's ruling striking down the Constitutionality of ObamaCare's mandate to buy health insurance.
When the host of MSNBC's "The Ed Show" said, "It’s not a big key element of the health care bill," sparks began to fly (video follows with transcript and commentary):