Though by their own count “thousands” of anti-ObamaCare protesters gathered outside the Capitol building on Saturday, ABC decided to smear the entire cause by stressing the despicable actions of a handful or even fewer as anchor David Muir announced in setting up the first story on Saturday’s World News: “Protesters against the plan gathered on the streets of the capital where late today we learned words shouted turned very ugly, reports of racial and homophobic slurs, one protester actually spitting on a Congressman.”
Following the lead story on President Barack Obama’s pep talk to House Democrats, and before Jonathan Karl’s count on where the vote stands (he put it at 212 yes versus 214 no), Muir went to:
Late word from Washington tonight about just how ugly the crowds gathered outside the Longworth office building have become. We learned that as Congressman Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri was leaving his office someone in the crowd spit on him. There are also reports of racial and homophobic slurs, one targeting Congressman John Lewis, the famous civil rights champion, and the other involving Congressman Barney Frank. You can listen in for yourself.
Is The Washington Post playing favorites with causes that inspire people to exercise their First Amendment rights and take to the streets to protest? When it comes to opposition to Democratic efforts to reform health care versus opposition to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it appears so.
In a March 20 Washington Post story headlined "Obama delivers plea to 'help us fix this system,'" Ben Pershing, Paul Kane and Lori Montgomery suggested House Democrats were gaining momentum in their pursuit of the 216 votes needed to pass health care reform legislation, despite "hundreds" of "tea party" protesters rallying outside the U.S. Capitol. (h/t Amanda Carpenter)
"Outside the Capitol, hundreds of 'tea party' protesters rallied against the legislation, jeering Democratic lawmakers as they passed and holding signs reading 'We'll Remember in November' and 'Revolution,' Pershing, Kane and Montgomery wrote.
On Saturday’s Good Morning America, reporter Rachel Martin cast President Obama and Democratic leaders as working hard to nail down the votes needed to pass their massive health care bill, but made no suggestion that liberals were using devious or heavy-handed tactics. But when it came to the Republicans, reporter David Kerley included an indignant Democratic congresswoman, who charged that the mean-spirited GOP was casting her as “soft on cancer” just weeks after both of her parents died of the disease. (Friday's ABC World News highlighted the same complaint, MRC's Brent Baker noticed.)
The two reports, which aired back-to-back at the top of the March 20 program, were a good illustration of the liberal media trope that Republicans sink to using offensive hardball tactics while Democrats are seen as offering lofty arguments.
On the one hand, Martin’s story showed only soundbites from Democrats: President Obama, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and a freshman Congressman who was switching his vote from “no” to “yes.” Martin helped cast Representative John Boccieri as a profile in courage:
The Friday night discussion with Mark Shields and David Brooks on the PBS NewsHour was surprisingly heated. First, anchorman Jim Lehrer seemed to suggest the liberal lingo when the "no" votes were "problem Democrats," as opposed to the Pelosi Democrats:
Where are the -- what -- who are the problem Democrats left right now? We know about the Stupaks and the anti-abortion folks. Who else?
Shields insisted that come the fall, no one will be talking about the process the Democrats used to pass a health-care bill, but Brooks said deem-and-pass was "so repulsive, I'm out of my skin with anger about it." Here's how it unfolded:
Complete with a photo of her late parents, ABC's Jonathan Karl concluded his Friday night story on undecided Democratic House members by conveying the complaint of Pennsylvania's Kathy Dahlkemper, who contended a TV ad about how further government control of health care will lead to delays in cancer treatment as has occurred in Britain, is inappropriate because her parents recently died from cancer.
“Perhaps the most powerful personal story belongs to Pennsylvania's Kathy Dahlkemper,” Karl intoned, pointing out “her father died of leukemia in February, and her mother died just two weeks ago, and now she finds herself among the undecided Democrats targeted by this ad.” Viewers then saw a very brief clip of an ad from Americans for Prosperity in which a woman maintained: “If you find a lump, you could wait months for treatment and life-saving drugs can be restricted.”
Karl relayed Dahlkemper's indignation: “She says the group that made the ad is wrong, and takes it personally.” In a soundbite, the freshman representing the Northwestern area of the Keystone State squeezed between Ohio and New York, decried: “So, for these ads to come out and somehow say that I'm soft on cancer, after having just lost two parents within the last six weeks from cancer, and with having the record I have really for supporting wellness, to me, is wrong.”
Democrats will be pointing to this preliminary CBO score as if it is engraved on stone tablets. Republicans will proclaim their respect for the CBO and proceed to argue that its estimates should not be taken too seriously in this instance. This may come as a surprise, but I think the Republican argument is closer to correct. To crow, as did House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, that the package is "a triumph for the American people in terms of deficit reduction" is premature at best, delusional at worst.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-NY, for one, does not want blood on his hands from 45,000 Americans who allegedly die every year due to lack of health insurance. And MSNBC's Alex Witt, for one, doesn't think it worth questioning the veracity of that number.
"There are a lot of problems I have with the bill, primarily it doesn't go far enough. I really wish we had the public option in this bill," Nadler said in a March 18 interview on MSNBC.
"There are some other problems with it but bottom line - bottom line - the Harvard Medical School study tells us that 45,000 American per year die for lack of access to health insurance," Nadler said. "A ‘No' vote on this bill is a vote to kill 45,000 American a year. A ‘Yes' vote is a vote to save their lives - everything else is secondary."
As conservatives rally opposition to ObamaCare in the waning hours of the health care debate, MSNBC "Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough didn't seem to think the upcoming health care vote is such a big deal. On his show this morning, Scarborough concluded that the outcome of the health care overhaul vote will not have a significant impact on the American health care system.
“People just need to take a deep breath,” insisted Scarborough. “We’re going to be fine. Whichever way it goes, we’re going to be fine.”
Scarborough employed hyperbole to mischaracterize those who argue that ObamaCare is fiscally reckless and a step toward a single-payer health care system.
The mainstream media are carping about Bret Baier's "contentious" interview when in fact "he did nothing unlike what Tim Russert did in all the years that Tim Russert interviewed Republican presidents," argued Media Research Center President and NewsBusters Publisher Brent Bozell on today's "Fox & Friends." [MP3 audio available here; WMV format video available here]
Just as the late "Meet the Press" host would push interview subjects to reconcile contradictory positions, Baier asked the same of President Obama, who "showed up [to the Baier interview] prepared to give a speech with his talking points, which is what he always does and always gets away with" when interviewed by other journalists, Bozell noted.
Later in the interview, former Bush White House press secretary Dana Perino noted that Obama currently has a 46 percent approval rating and asked Bozell what the poll numbers would look like if the media were actually tougher on Obama.
"If the press were, not tough on Obama [but] fair, fair with this president... I think among other things, health care would be dead. This whole charade would be dead," Bozell concluded.
On Friday's CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez proclaimed: "After more than a year of debate, Democrats say they're on the verge of passing historic health care legislation." And touted the massive legislation as fiscally responsible: "The government says the final version of the bill will cost $940 billion over ten years, but will reduce the projected budget deficit by $138 billion."
In a report that followed, correspondent Nancy Cordes gave a fully positive description of the legislation: "The final bill would extend coverage to 32 million Americans who are currently uninsured. It would close the gap in Medicare prescription drug coverage for seniors by the year 2020 and it would penalize businesses with more than 50 workers if they don't offer insurance."
After Cordes's report, Rodriguez spoke with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who praised CBS's adherence to the Democratic Party line: "Maggie, what I think is that we have seen yesterday very important information from the Congressional Budget Office, which as you indicate and Nancy indicated, shows that we are doing exactly what we said we would do."
“It's shaping up to be a great weekend here in Washington,” Washington Post business section columnist Steven Pearlstein proclaimed in a piece in Friday's newspaper, and not because of the “spectacular weather,” but because of the likely “vote in the House that would finally have the United States join the rest of the industrialized world in offering health insurance to all its citizens.”
Pearlstein, a former reporter who won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, concluded his column by asserting passage would prove Washington is capable of “solving” a major problem and by indulging in self-congratulatory ruminating about how such success would “restore...trust and confidence in ourselves.” More like trust and confidence by journalists in their own influence. His final paragraph:
Most of all, enacting health-care reform would be a desperately needed victory for a political system teetering on the verge of breakdown. Years of polarization, partisanship and stalemate have led to a widespread and cynical belief that Washington is simply incapable of solving any major problem. Passing a health-care reform bill would restore not only a measure of trust and confidence in our political process but also, more significantly, trust and confidence in ourselves.
While a vote on health care reform legislation appears to be imminent, should it pass it could have broader economic implications, even if the bill itself won't take effect for some time.
As CNBC "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer predicted - if it passes, get ready to see a sell-off on Wall Street. Cramer appeared on CNBC's March 18 "The Kudlow Report," with his former broadcast partner Larry Kudlow. Kudlow asked Cramer to elaborate on his theory ObamaCare could send the financial markets reeling or "topple the stock market," as Kudlow described it.
"First, it is the single biggest impediment to the stock market going higher," Cramer said. "And a lot of this has to do with what's not being talked about enough with how it's going to be paid and also about what it will do to small business formation. This bill is a disaster for both."
“Democrats used the word 'giddy' to describe their reaction when they got the cost estimates from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO),” NBC's Kelly O'Donnell relayed Thursday night, but she could have been talking about CBS's Katie Couric and Nancy Cordes who shared the giddiness in touting the CBO numbers, favorable to Democratic spin on the health bill, without any caveats or reservations -- yet with a dose of exaggeration.
“The price tag certified,” Couric trumpeted in teasing the CBS Evening News before leading with how the CBO “put out a report that may help win over some Democrats,” reciting: “It says the plan, which would cost $940 billion over 10 years, would reduce the deficit over that same period by $138 billion.” She then cited a claim CBO didn't make: “It would cut the deficit over 20 years by more than $1 trillion.”
Cordes pegged $1.3 trillion as “the amount by which the final health care bill would reduce the deficit over the next 20 years,” bucking up the CBO's credibility: “That's according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, which is trusted by both parties as the authority on budget matters.”
As the Media Research Center's latest Media Reality Check details, over the past year, the media have served as cheerleaders for ObamaCare, praising the proposed legislation, while continually slamming its critics.
As Congress moves closer to a final vote on the bill in the coming days, it's a good time to take a look back at the friendly spin that has dominated the airwaves in support of it, as well as the harsh attacks that have been launched against its opponents.
Here is a video compilation with just a sampling of some of the slanted coverage from the past 12 months.
Yesterday the Associated Press and Newsweek latched onto a pro-ObamaCare letter circulated by a left-wing group and signed by 59 nuns. Today, liberal Washington Post columnist and practicing Catholic E.J. Dionne took to the op-ed page to encourage House Democrats to "listen to the nuns."
Dionne ably expressed the sentiments of perhaps many a liberal journalist giddy over the news:
House members voting on health care will be representing primarily their positions as Americans and as agents of their constituents, though many will also be influenced by their faith. Those with a special affection for the Roman Catholic Church have an extra reason for voting in favor of the health bill.
By passing it, they would save the bishops from the moral opprobrium that would rightly fall upon them if they succeeded in killing the best chance we have to extend health coverage to 30 million Americans. I suspect that many bishops would be quietly grateful. In their hearts, they know the nuns are right.
But today, National Review's Kathryn Jean Lopez noted another group of nuns that probably won't get as much, if any, media coverage precisely because they stand with the nation's Catholic bishops with their concerns about inadequate protection for the unborn in the legislation before Congress.
Surprise: Congressional Democrats pounce on yet another New York Times story to their liking and are swapping it among themselves "as exhibit A against Republicans."
From Michael O'Brien's Wednesday evening report from the Capitol Hill newspaper The Hill (hat tip NB's Seton Motley):
Democrats are seizing on a report that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had long plotted to slow or halt Democratic priorities in Congress, planning to use it as a key piece of evidence in their case against GOP "obstructionism."
In a memo to a broad group of Democratic lawmakers, communications staff and party strategists obtained by The Hill, Democratic National Committee (DNC) Communications Director Brad Woodhouse advised using a New York Times report Wednesday on the Senate GOP leader as exhibit A against Republicans.
Finally! A reporter who stands up to the media's Chosen One and isn't afraid to ask the tough questions.
Kudos to Bret Baier. He prepared for a difficult interview and came right out of the gate asking the questions that matter most to the millions of Americans protesting government takeover of health care. Other networks have had this opportunity in innumerable interviews, but Fox has proved itself to be the only network willing and capable of showing backbone and doing their journalistic duty.
How have the left-wing media reacted? While they should hang their head in humiliation for making the fair, hard questions in this interview monumental, they have instead criticized Baier's interview as ‘contentious,' as if it's unprofessional for a journalist to deviate from lapdoggery.
And we wonder why America has chosen Fox News Channel over the competition time and time again.
When did Larry O'Donnell rip the "Question Authority" bumper sticker off his old Volkswagen van?
Liberals normally love to celebrate those who "speak truth to power." But Larry O'Donnell is bent out of shape that Fox News' Bret Baier had the chutzpah to challenge and, yes, interrupt, Pres. Obama when interviewing him today about ObamaCare. Larry displayed his sudden deference to high-office on this evening's Countdown, subbing for Keith Olbermann.
Amusingly, one of my liberal faves declined to subscribe to Larry's script . . .
"Hot on the heels of Kucinich's declaration of support for health-care reform, the Associated Press is reporting that Catholic nuns are urging Democratic lawmakers to support health-care reform," Newsweek's Katie Connolly informed readers of the magazine's The Gaggle blog this morning.
"This is a major break with the church's bishops, who have strongly opposed the legislation on the grounds that some federal subsidies may end up funding abortions," Connolly gushed, later closing her blog post with the conclusion that "[a]t the very least, the letter damages the validity of [pro-life Democrat Rep. Bart] Stupak's argument."
Both Connolly's post and the underlying AP story failed to delve into this, but the letter in question was not simply cobbled together by apolitical nuns. It was pushed out to the media by a group with a left-wing agenda, reports CatholicCulture.org:
It's no shock to rational, thinking people that healthcare legislation currently before Congress will do nothing to halt rising insurance premiums, but that the folks at the Associated Press would come to such a conclusion AND write about it is quite surprising.
There it was in a piece published Wednesday called, "FACT CHECK: Premiums would rise under Obama plan."
Readers are strongly encouraged to fasten seatbelts tightly, for they're about to enter what has to be an alternate universe (h/t Ed Morrissey):
“Based on some mild and indiscernible shouts by people in a hallway outside the office of a House member,” NewsBusters noted Tuesday night, “CBS's Chip Reid tried to discredit anti-ObamaCare protesters,” claiming the Tea Party activists “tried to lobby undecided Democrats. At times, it got ugly.” (Watch the video to assess the commotion Reid characterized as “ugly.”)
But in today's Politico newspaper, Marin Cogan relayed how “staff members for Democrats reported orderly, even polite conversations with protesters.” In her article, “Dems play nice with tea partiers,” Marin not only did not cite any ugliness, she discovered the protesters were so calm that they were actually bored by them: “'It was like a high school classroom,' an aide to one lawmaker who hosted tea partiers noted glumly. 'It was so boring.'”
In David Leonhardt's latest "Economic Scene" column for the New York Times, "The Perils Of Pay Less, Get More," he reestablished his reputation as the paper's neo-liberal economic voice, admitting that at a certain point taxes hurt economic growth, but also urging Obama to break his pledge and raise taxes on everyone, not just people making over $250,000 a year, in order to cut the deficit.
Leonhardt has certainly changed his mind about Obama's tax pledge. In a huge August 2008 story for the New York Times Magazine, Leonhardt actually promoted Obama's popular campaign promise to reduce taxes for those making under $250,000, in the name of addressing "inequality":
Obama's agenda starts not with raising taxes to reduce the deficit, as Clinton's ended up doing, but with changing the tax code so that families making more than $250,000 a year pay more taxes and nearly everyone else pays less. That would begin to address inequality.
"[H]ypocrisy is a well-established parliamentary procedure," Tumulty noted in her March 17 Swampland blog post before contrasting the Hoyer of 2010 to the in-the-minority-party Hoyer of 2003 who decried "deem and pass" as "demeaning of democracy" and cautioned that its prior use should not excuse the practice in the future (emphases mine):
2010: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer on the idea of passing health care with a self-executing rule:
The House Democratic leader, Representative Steny H. Hoyer, also defended the maneuver on Tuesday. “It is consistent with the rules,” Mr. Hoyer said. “It is consistent with former practice.”
2003: House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer complaining about the Republicans' use of self-executing rules:
But have the media completely dropped the ball and that is allowing those in power to circumvent constitutional process? According to Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., they have. She had some harsh words for the fourth estate on conservative talker Sean Hannity's March 16 radio show. (h/t Kevin Eder)
"Well yeah and the other thing is treason media," Bachmann said. "Where is the mainstream media in all of this not telling this story? This is a compelling story - that the Speaker of the House would even consider having us pass a bill that no one votes on?"
It's certainly not business as usual in Washington, D.C., but that's probably not what the American people had in mind when they elected President Barack Obama to come to the White House and usher in a new era of change.
"I think the process is well tainted by now," Hume said. "This is a case where in the face of a level of resistance that I have never seen before, in the sense on a bill that the sponsors continue to push, I've never seen anything pushed this far for this long in the face of such resistance of this size. This is unprecedented."
On CNN's American Morning today, anchor John Roberts pressed one of President Barack Obama's talking points on the Democratic health care plan. Roberts talked with former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, who opposes ObamaCare. Currently the chairman of FreedomWorks, Armey criticized "the audacity of the government mandating to the American people: you must all buy a product that I define for you." Then Roberts went to work:
ROBERTS: But why is it mandate for having health insurance a bad thing? There's a mandate for having car insurance.
ARMEY: Well, first of all, you have to understand, America is a nation that was founded on the concept of personal liberty, that liberty is a gift given to mankind by the Lord God Almighty and it's the duty of governments to protect your liberty.
ROBERTS: Do you have car insurance?
ARMEY: Not to trespass against your liberty.
ROBERTS: Do you have car insurance?
ARMEY: Do I have car insurance? Of course, I have car insurance.
Based on some mild and indiscernible shouts by people in a hallway outside the office of a House member, CBS's Chip Reid on Tuesday night tried to discredit anti-ObamaCare protesters, claiming “at times, it got ugly.”
Reid recounted: “Outside the Capitol, a few hundred members of the conservative Tea Party movement called on Congress to kill the Democratic health care reform bill as Republicans urged them to keep fighting.” Following a clip of Republican Congressman Mike Pence, Reid announced over the hallway video: “Moving inside, they tried to lobby undecided Democrats. At times, it got ugly.” Then, leading into pro and con TV ads, Reid asserted: “The angry war of words over health care reform in Washington is echoing across the nation.” Watch the video to see what CBS considers “ugly” behavior. (MP3 audio clip.)
After citing “a growing controversy over a parliamentary maneuver the Speaker may use to get reform passed,” Katie Couric had introduced Reid by maintaining that “as a vote nears, the tension, confusion, and anger are all building.” Reid agreed: “The closer we get to a vote, the nastier the debate becomes. Some on Capitol Hill say it gives new meaning to the expression 'March Madness.'”
CBS “Early Show” host Harry Smith used the top of the broadcast today to transmit liberal talking points on health care reform without bringing on a single conservative to articulate opposition.
First, CBS Senior White House Correspondent Bill Plante’s glowing description of the benefits of passing health care reform went unchallenged:
It is expected to increase assistance for lower income people to afford health care, increase federal funding for the Medicaid program, and raise prescription drug benefits under Medicare. If the bills are signed into law, they would immediately forbid insurers from setting limits on dollar coverage or canceling policies in most cases. Children could then remain on their parents' insurance until age 26. In 2014, most Americans would be required to carry health insurance. There would be a health insurance exchange and insurers would then not be able to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions. But meanwhile, the heat is really on. The President has been holding some one-on-one meetings with freshman House Democrats to try to persuade them. They are the people most vulnerable to the pressures to get this bill passed.
Eternally optimistic New York Times pro-Obama-care reporter David Herszenhorn's Tuesday morning post managed to make the desperate proposal by House Democrats to pass a massive federal expansion of health care entitlement spending without actually voting on the legislation sound like an innocuous procedural wrinkle: “Passing Health Care Legislation, Tucked in a Rule.”
According to a plan by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the House would vote on changes to the Senate-approved bill, which would then be "deemed" to have passed the House without actually being voted on in the House.
As they push for a climactic vote on major health care legislation, House Democratic leaders face a bit of a conundrum: rank-and-file lawmakers detest the Senate-passed health care bill, and yet before the Democrats’ overall proposal becomes law, the House somehow has to find a way to approve that Senate bill.
The reason for that is simple: Democrats no longer control the 60 votes needed to stop Republican filibusters in the Senate, so passing a brand-new bill in both chambers is impossible. Instead, the House is planning to first adopt the Senate bill and then adopt a package of revisions to that bill in an expedited budget measure that cannot be filibustered and can be approved in the Senate by a simple majority.
Herszenhorn reduced the tactics of both sides to procedural maneuvers, though the idea of the House refusing to vote on such vast historic legislation would seem to at least possibly be unconstitutional. The Times doesn't even raise the possibility: