With the Obama administration and their friends in the media denouncing the sometimes loud dissent that liberals are facing in town hall meetings on health care, it’s worth recalling how some of those same journalists celebrated the anti-Bush dissenters and denounced what they claimed was the Republican administration’s attempts to stifle dissent.
Back in 2006, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann attacked what he called President Bush’s “portable public chorus” (does President Obama have one of those?) For telling “those who dissent...[that] we are somehow un-American.” PBS’s Bill Moyers in 2003 found it “galling” to see “all those moralistic ideologues in Washington...attacking dissenters as un-American.”
In 2003, Olbermann saluted protests: “It is political dissent that created this country and sustained it and improved it.” But on Friday’s Countdown, Olbermann called the anti-Obama protests “societal sabotage,” determined that the grassroots groups are “fake” and insisted that “the protestors are not interested in hearing any voices other than their own.” (But the anti-Bush protesters were open-minded?)
Not everyone on the left is in denial of the town hall protests and propagating the notion that any opposition to ObamaCare is manufactured "Astroturf" from the right.
Former Democratic Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, now a Bloomberg TV contributor, said that the issue of public sentiment isn't settled. Some prognosticators have concluded that everyone wants President Barack Obama's brand of health care reform.
"I think it's still a toss-up ball quite frankly," Daschle said on Bloomberg TV Aug. 11. "I think everybody is looking to see who gets to be on the offensive and there is a critical effort on both sides to do that. Whoever is usually on the offensive as you go into the legislative fight is the winner. And so, that's really the key - who can be on the offensive as we go through the next critical weeks."
Tribune reporter Antonio Olivo served up a 36-paragraph story focused particularly on the plight of illegal immigrants in need of organ transplants. But it seems Olivo buried his lede given the excerpt below from paragraphs 25-28, wherein the immigrants he interviewed scoffed at the idea of going back for government-run health care in their home countries (emphasis mine):
In Chicago, about a dozen patients in need of organ transplants lean on one another through an informal support group. They sat recently inside one patient's Pilsen home, comparing kidney dialysis regimens and worries over mounting hospital bills. Within the group, sharing medicine is common. In cases where pills are running out, so is rationing one pill a day instead of three.
Asked about returning to Mexico or other homelands to receive more comprehensive care, the group broke into laughter.
In an op-ed published Monday by USA Today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Cali.) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Mary.) wrote:
Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American. Drowning out the facts is how we failed at this task for decades.
As NewsBusters reported Monday, a liberal advocacy group called Health Care for America Now published a playbook last Tuesday with the following instructions for its members to counter "the 'tea-bagger' protesters and right-wing activists" showing up at town hall meetings from coast to coast:
Their side will be smaller but noisier. You must bring enough people to drown them out...
Well, it turns out that Hoyer is listed at HCAN's website, along with roughly 200 other members of Congress, as supporting this organization:
MSNBC, the place for left-wing politics strikes again.
If there ever was a textbook example of what not to do in a TV interview for broadcast journalism students, "Hardball" host Chris Matthews put it on display during his Aug. 10 show. In a segment with Americans For Prosperity President Tim Phillips, Matthews did his dead-level best to discredit the opponent of Obama's health care policy proposals, first by trying to link him to those questioning Obama's presidency on the claims of an invalid birth certificate.
"Tim, where are you from politically? What's your story? Who are you politically?" Matthews said, peppering his free-market conservative guest with questions. "Are you one of the people that question's the president's legitimacy as president?" "You're not a birther or anything like that?"
Who says a little engineering mixed in with your journalism is a bad thing? At least one MSNBC host and Washington Post reporter said it's a journalist's job to focus on "real issues" in the hotly debated issue of health care reform.
This was the topic of discussion in a panel featuring John Rother, executive vice president of Policy and Strategy for AARP, Ceci Connolly of The Washington Post, Tim Phillips of Americans for Prosperity and host Dr. Nancy Snyderman during MSNBC's "Dr. Nancy" Aug. 10.
Rother argued there has been far too much hyperbole on the issue, which he insisted was meant to mislead the public.
The liberal media meme on conservative protesters at health care town halls is that they are full of vitriol, but lacking in substance. So how does Chicago Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg take on critics of ObamaCare?
But not only are opponents of ObamaCare "dead wrong," argues Steinberg, they're an un-American, if not outright traitorous "fifth column" dedicated to stopping President Obama's agenda at any cost (emphasis mine):
On Friday's Glenn Beck Program, FNC aired a pre-recorded interview between host Beck and a British member of the European Parliament, Daniel Hannan, who warned against the dangers of instituting a national health system in America because of the problems Britons must endure from their country's government-run monopoly, the National Health Service. During an interview in which he recounted the long waits, the inability to go outside the system for faster treatment, and the system's discrimination against elderly patients, Hannan summed up his amazement that Americans would consider such a system:
I find it incredible that a free people living in a country dedicated and founded in the cause of independence and freedom can seriously be thinking about adopting such a system in peacetime and massively expanding the role of the state when there's no need.
He also warned that once such a massive bureaucracy and voting bloc of government workers becomes entrenched, such a system would likely be impossible to get rid of:
The New York Times suddenly isn't so fond of community organizing, now that the right has gotten into the game, attacking Obama's health-care proposals in clamorous town halls held by Democratic congressmen over the August recess.
In fact, the Times agrees with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that such meetings have become "hostile" and "extreme." "Beyond Beltway, Health Debate Turns Hostile" is the headline over a very slanted front-page story Saturday by Ian Urbina.
The bitter divisions over an overhaul of the health care system have exploded at town-hall-style meetings over the last few days as members of Congress have been shouted down, hanged in effigy and taunted by crowds. In several cities, noisy demonstrations have led to fistfights, arrests and hospitalizations.
Democrats have said the protesters are being organized by conservative lobbying groups like FreedomWorks. Republicans respond that the protests are an organic response to the Obama administration's health care restructuring proposals.
There is no dispute, however, that most of the shouting and mocking is from opponents of those plans. Many of those opponents have been encouraged to attend by conservative commentators and Web sites.
On Friday's Glenn Beck Program on FNC, substitute host Eric Bolling interviewed the now-famous "angry Democrat," Don Jeror, who confronted House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer at a recent public event as he challenged the Democratic push for universal health insurance. At the event, Jeror famously contended that while President Obama took six months to choose a dog for his family, Congress is "trying to stuff the health care bill down our throat in three to four weeks."
During his interview on FNC, Jeror summarized the potential risks to the elderly posed by the institution of public health insurance, and proclaimed that America has "the best health care in the world."
This summer, the Rockwellian ideal of neighbors gathering to discuss community issues in a neighborly way is gone, replaced by quarrelsome masses hollering questions downloaded from activist websites, as video cameras record every word of the squirming lawmaker's response. Many seem to be following advice laid out in a memo circulating on the Internet advising activists to “watch for an opportunity to yell out” early in the presentation and “have someone else follow up with a shout-out.”
Wangsness soon bemoaned the impact -- “Political specialists say, endlessly looping images of these confrontations on cable TV could hurt the case for the healthcare overhaul” -- before she set out to prove, as if it were something nefarious, how “conservative activist groups are deeply involved.”
On Thursday's The O'Reilly Factor, FNC host Bill O'Reilly hosted a discussion with FNC analyst and former CBS News correspondent Bernard Goldberg, as the two pointed out the mainstream media's double standard in "obsessing" over how protesters who have been challenging ObamaCare were organized, but have shown no interest in the organization of protesters by left-wing groups. After O'Reilly's "Talking Points Memo" addressed the subject, Goldberg observed:
The word "hypocrisy" in your "Talking Points" is the key word. Civil rights demonstrations, anti-war demonstrations, pro-abortion rights demonstrations, environmental demonstrations, I don't remember the media obsessing about who got these people out to the demonstration site, who orchestrated the demonstration, who manufactured, to use another of their words, the anger at the demonstrations. ... But the media only feels an obligation to look behind the curtain at the forces that are orchestrating and manufacturing the demonstrations when it's a conservative demonstration.
Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Thursday, August 6, The O'Reilly Factor on FNC:
Franken, who departed CNN in 2006 and now shows up occasionally as an analyst on MSNBC, continued: “What do you call the partisan groups that whip up their fear-of-change ultra-conservative base to engage in that symbolic lynching and then disavow any responsibility? You have a choice here between 'deniers' and a word that rhymes with it.” I guess that would be “liars.”
The ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts in near-unison on Friday night disparaged the anti-ObamaCare protests at town meetings held by Members of Congress as “unruly,” “nasty” and “getting ugly,” while CBS and NBC targeted Rush Limbaugh -- NBC's Kelly O'Donnell charged “some anger...gets stoked by the provocative megaphone of Rush Limbaugh, who went so far as accusing Democrats of wanting the socialized medicine of Nazi Germany” -- without bothering to acknowledge Limbaugh was reacting to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who first put Nazi comparisons into play by accusing the opponents of “carrying swastikas and symbols like that to a town meeting on health care.”
Following O'Donnell, NBC's Chuck Todd checked in from a parallel universe at the White House where, except for the pesky health care opponents, Obama's staff achieved great things during the week:
They look back at this week, and they see that they've rescued two Americans from North Korea, that they broke a barrier at the Supreme Court with the confirmation of soon-to-be Justice Sonia Sotomayor, that a major terrorist was killed in, of the Taliban, a figure that is believed, that is somebody that might be able to break up the Taliban in such a way, that the cash for clunkers turned out to be a success, those good unemployment news. So they sit here and say, hey, it's pretty good, but then this health care debate and this town halls that Kelly was reporting on....
ABC anchor Charles Gibson saw “a pattern of disruption -- opponents of change shouting at members of Congress so loud that at times police are called in.” He then pointed to the Obama administration as an authority on civility, highlighting how “White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said today: 'We can discuss these issues without being uncivilized. It's the same thing I tell my six-year-old.'”
"When I watch the news people stand here and tell me that I am a member of a hired mob, that I've been called up by the Republican Party, they only wish they could have done something like this. I've never been contacted by any organized group."
So fabulously stated a caller during Saturday's "Washington Journal" on C-SPAN in a monologue that is likely to go viral throughout the Internet and possibly make the speaker America's next Joe the Plumber.
But that's only the tip of the iceberg, for Leah from New Hampshire's declaration about what's really going on in the country, Congress, the media, and at these town hall meetings perfectly encapsulated what most so-called journalists are either ignorantly missing or dishonestly ignoring (video and transcript below the fold, h/t Ed Morrissey via Bob Hicks):
There’s something deeply wrong with journalism that scrutinizes and criticizes the institutions of free and successful nations, but produces puff pieces on the supposed achievements of totalitarian dictatorships. On Thursday, CNN aired a piece of Communist Party propaganda about how Cuba could serve as “a model for health care reform” in the United States, complete with an authoritative sound bite from an American medical expert, identified only as someone “who’s lived and worked in Cuba for decades.”
But the expert, Gail Reed, is a longtime admirer of the Cuban revolution, married to the Cuban official who served as ambassador to Grenada in the early 1980s when U.S. troops liberated the island from hardline communists who had executed the leftist Prime Minister Maurice Bishop. She's also worked at Granma, Cuba’s official communist party newspaper.
Correspondent Morgan Neill also recited all of the standard tropes about how Cuban health care is the best in Latin America, is completely free, and “no one falls through the cracks.” While he acknowledged that “critics charged that conditions in Cuban hospitals are appalling and that Cubans had to pay bribes to get decent care,” nearly all of the August 6 report was positive.
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman is not pleased with some of his fellow racist mobs -- er, U.S. citizens -- as he demonstrated in his column on Friday, "The TownHall Mob," on loud protests that have met some Democratic congressmen who support Obama's costly health care ideas.
There's a famous Norman Rockwell painting titled "Freedom of Speech," depicting an idealized American town meeting. The painting, part of a series illustrating F.D.R.'s "Four Freedoms," shows an ordinary citizen expressing an unpopular opinion. His neighbors obviously don't like what he's saying, but they're letting him speak his mind.
That's a far cry from what has been happening at recent town halls, where angry protesters -- some of them, with no apparent sense of irony, shouting "This is America!" -- have been drowning out, and in some cases threatening, members of Congress trying to talk about health reform.
In Friday’s Washington Post business section, columnist Steven Pearlstein — who last week condemned the conservative “fantasy” that raising taxes is damaging to the economy — blasted Republicans as “political terrorists” who are “poisoning the political well” by peddling “lies” about liberal health care plans, lies that are “so misleading, so disingenuous, that they could only spring from a cynical effort to gain partisan political advantage.”
"As a columnist who regularly dishes out sharp criticism, I try not to question the motives of people with whom I don't agree," Pearlstein claimed before warning: "Today, I'm going to step over that line."
But the “facts” Pearlstein uses to slam the anti-ObamaCare “terrorists” line up better with Democratic talking points than the analysis of non-partisan sources such as the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). For instance, Pearlstein claims it is a lie that the Democratic bills would push people out of private insurance, that it is a lie that the price tag is $1 trillion, and trumpets “offsetting savings” as bringing the cost down to “less than 1 percent of a national income that grows at an average rate of 2.5 percent every year.”
UPDATE: Nationally syndicated radio talk show host Sean Hannity read Bozell's statement on the air on August 6th. The audio can be found here.
Liberal Democrats have launched a war of outrageous hate speech directed at Americans who haved dared to express opposition to Obama's health care "reform."
First, the Democratic National Committee launched a Web video charging "desperate Republicans and their well-funded allies" with "organizing angry mobs" to "destroy President Obama." Then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) accused town hall protestors of "carrying swastikas."
In response this morning, MRC President Brent Bozell called on the mainstream media "to report on this hate speech, who is behind it and how vicious it has become."
Mr. Bozell's full August 5 statement is printed below:
Today NewsBusters' parent organization, the Media Research Center (MRC), revealed that ABC News is not the only network guilty of giving Democratic-donating medical doctors a microphone to "report" on President Barack Obama's government health care proposal.
CBS and NBC medical physician correspondents have also chipped in their own cash to Democratic - but never Republican - candidates.
"ABC, CBS and NBC have no excuse for the applause these doctors have given to promote the largest expansion of government-run healthcare our country has ever seen," MRC President Brent Bozell said in a statement. "There's nothing benign about giving a megaphone to doctors who have a financial stake in the success of liberals' most aggressive platform in decades," he added.
Harold Pollack dispenses with them (and their sources) here.
Tumulty failed to mention the liberal bent of either TNR or Dr. Pollack (Ph.D., not M.D.), which would have been helpful considering her terse blog post practically amounted to an unqualified stamp of approval of Pollack's August 4 item.
Albeit in kinder, gentler language, Pollack posited that opposition to socialized medicine among American senior citizens was due to racism, xenophobia, and homophobia (emphasis mine):
The Democratic National Committee has released a new video to push back against protests happening at town hall meetings across the country, and according to ABC's Jake Tapper, these demonstrators are being depicted as "irrational birthers who want to 'destroy' President Obama."
For those unfamiliar with the term, "birthers" are folks that question whether Barack Obama is a U.S. citizen.
Tapper also reported that the ad claims these protests are being staged by "desperate Republicans and their well funded allies [who are] organizing angry mobs -- just like they did during the election."
DNC video along with more of Tapper's report below the fold:
ABC was embarrassed last week by NewsBusters’ exposure of how their new senior medical editor, Dr. Richard Besser of the federal Centers for Disease Control, donated $400 to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008, presumably an indication of his political sympathies. An ABC News spokeswoman, Cathie Levin, defended Besser to the Associated Press, arguing that he’s a doctor “whose job it is to give impartial and unvarnished advice and he’ll be able to do the same for a television audience.”
Maybe Besser can indeed separate his political views from his reporting on health care, but a review of campaign finance records at OpenSecrets.org finds that CBS’s Dr. Jon LaPook and NBC’s Dr. Nancy Snyderman have also chipped in their own cash to Democratic — but never Republican — candidates. And both correspondents, along with Besser’s future ABC colleague, Dr. Tim Johnson, have showered the liberal Obama health care plan with fawning press. Details:
ABC framed its Tuesday night story, on citizens using town hall forums held by Members of Congress to express opposition to ObamaCare, around undermining their credibility by asserting the reaction “appears to be orchestrated” and “organized” and thus is forcing the victimized “White House to push back” by “fighting Internet fire with fire.”
After anchor Charles Gibson insisted “some of that criticism appears to be orchestrated, causing the White House to push back,” reporter Jake Tapper showed some instances of “people protesting health care reform with visceral anger” and relayed how “Texas Democrat Lloyd Doggett, who was shouted down before he could even speak, says there's nothing authentic about these protests.” Doggett charged: “This notion of a grassroots campaign is totally and completely phony. The Republican Party has coordinated this apparent outrage and stirred it up.” Tapper corroborated: “Clearly, some of it is organized.” He cited how “Bob MacGuffie, a grass roots conservative activist wrote a widely circulated memo advising others at town hall meetings to put the Congressman quote, 'on the defensive with your questions and follow up.'”
For Congress, the August recess almost always means a round of town hall meetings and other gatherings at which our elected officials get to hear from the citizenry on what they have done thus far in session.
This summer, for those Congressman and Senators voting for or supporting government-run ObamaCare, the cap-and-trade tax and regulatory regime, the $787 billion alleged "stimulus" package and other huge government-tiny result programs, these constituent encounters have been very unpleasant indeed. So unpleasant, in fact, that some are defying orders from Nancy Pelosi and beginning to bail on them.
The instances of taxpayer revolts at these meetings have been mounting, with new videos gone viral appearing it seems almost daily. They must make it on the digital underground, you see, for outside of the gathering for Senator Arlen Specter (D/R/D-PA) and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the Lamestream Media have been largely reluctant to report on them.
On Monday's Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann delivered a "Special Comment" lambasting members of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of centrist House Democrats because most of the group's members have pressured more liberal congressional Democrats compromise in their push for public health insurance. After reciting campaign contributions received by some Blue Dog members from the health care industry, he suggested that these Democrats should just be called "dogs." Olbermann: "I could call them all out by name, but I think you get the point. We do not need to call the Democrats holding this up Blue Dogs. That one word 'dogs' is perfectly sufficient."
The MSNBC host also shamelessly tried to use Senator Ted Kennedy's illness to suggeset that Democratic Senator Blanche Lincoln, a centrist Democrat from Arkansas, should feel guilty about her role in forcing more liberal Democrats to compromise. Olbermann: "Senator Lincoln, by the way, considering how you're obstructing health care reform, how do you feel every time you actually see Senator Kennedy?"
The White House is striking back at recent revelations about what presidential candidate Barack Obama stated during the campaign concerning his desire to create a universal healthcare system in America and eliminate private health insurance.
On Monday, the Drudge Report linked to a video created by our friends at Naked Emperor News -- first reported by NewsBusters Sunday -- that contained clips of Obama making statements about healthcare that quite contradict what he's currently telling the American people as he pushes for radical reform (embedded right).
To counter what was in this video, the White House created one of its own as reported by Politico Tuesday (embedded below the fold):