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):
Monday's CBS Evening News, unlike the ABC and NBC evening newscasts, found time for a story on protesters, against liberal Democratic health plans, who confronted members of Congress at forums over the weekend, though reporter Wyatt Andrews felt the need to insert “scare” quotes as he referred to “demonstrators against what they called 'government-run health care'” and “what they call 'Obama-care.'”
Anchor Katie Couric set up the story: “The debate over health care reform is not limited to the halls of Congress. Voices are being heard all over the country -- voices of protest. And they're growing louder.” Andrews showed how “angry protestors in Philadelphia shouted down both the HHS Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, and Senator Arlen Specter” before he asserted “the crowds are partly the result of conservative Web sites asking for turnout at town halls.” Andrews, however, acknowledged “the turnouts also reflect real fear over the increased taxes and government controls that are part of the health bills being considered in Congress.”
Andrews concluded with the Democrats' plight: “Avoiding this kind of uproar is partly why Democrats wanted to pass health reform before the August recess. Democrats are now out there without a final bill to defend, but facing opponents trying to kill what they call 'Obama-care' with a show of August heat.”
As the weekend ends, catching up with a Wednesday Washington Post article which encapsulated how journalists are revolted by conservative economic policy and upset at how an aversion to tax hikes may prevent passage of Obama's health care takeover. “Health Reform Threatened by Conservatives' Anti-Tax Fantasy” read the headline over a Wednesday “Business” section column by Steven Pearlstein, a former reporter now freer to express his personal opinions which likely reflect the perspectives of his colleagues still in daily journalism.
Lead paragraph of Pearlstein's July 29 column:
Nothing has been more damaging to rational discourse about economic policy than the notion, peddled relentlessly by Republican conservatives and accepted by too many centrist Democrats, that raising taxes is always and everywhere bad for the economy.
If the media were honest with the public about the quality of healthcare in America, would Obama and the Democrats have a prayer in passing the kind of reform currently being proposed?
Probably about as good a chance as the Washington Nationals winning the World Series this year, right?
If you think this is overstating the case, read the following report prepared by Scott W. Atlas, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a professor of radiology and chief of neuroradiology at Stanford University Medical School (h/t Glenn Reynolds):
As President Obama repeatedly tells America that his plan for healthcare reform will not lead to the elimination of private health insurance, statements he made in 2007 and 2003 tell a different story altogether.
In shocking video uncovered by our good friends at Naked Emperor News, Obama, speaking at SEIU's New Leadership Health Care Forum on March 24, 2007, said, "My commitment is to make sure that we have universal healthcare for all Americans by the end of my first term as President."
Later in the discussion, he elaborated (video embedded below the fold):
Unless you are hopelessly liberal and/or drinking WAY too much Kool-Aid, you are fully aware that President Obama and his Democrat minions on Capitol Hill can't get enough money from the so-called rich to pay for all the programs they're proposing.
On Saturday, such an inconvenient truth was actually revealed by none other than the New York Times:
"This idea that everything new that government provides ought to be paid for by the top 5 percent, that's a basically unstable way of governing."..."There is no way we can pay for health care and the rest of the Obama agenda, plus get our long-term deficits under control, simply by raising taxes on the wealthy...The middle class is going to have to contribute as well."
On Friday’s 20/20 on ABC, co-anchor John Stossel exposed the flaws in the Canadian and British government-run health care systems, and even showed viewers a clip of President Obama as he once expressed a belief that single-payer health care would be an acceptable system, even while taking the position that he would not pursue it, during one of the Democratic party presidential debates in 2008. During the January 21, 2008, debate on CNN, Obama said:
It's fine for us to have a debate about how the best way to get there is, but to suggest somehow that I'm not interested in having everybody covered, or to suggest, as Hillary just did, that I was in favor of single payer, I never said that we should try to go ahead and get single payer. What I said was that if I were starting from scratch, if we didn't have a system in which employers had typically provided health care, I would probably go with a single-payer system.
During the six-minute, 20-second segment -- which can be seen here -- Stossel informed viewers of the long waits patients must endure in countries with government-run health systems – like Canada and Britain. He recounted that some patients – including world leaders and wealthy celebrities – come to America for treatment of serious conditions, and relayed the case of one Canadian woman who came to America to treat a clogged artery whose American doctor told her she would not have survived waiting a few more weeks for Canada's government health care. Additionally, Stossel found that even patients waiting in emergency rooms in Canada have to wait an average of 23 hours for service.
The reporter, Leslie Boyd of the Gannett-owned Asheville Citizen-Times, ended up cancelling her scheduled appearance at the July 23 rally in front of Rep. Heath Shuler's (D-N.C.) district offices, but as Jane Q. notes, Boyd's plan to attend the rally as a participant violated specific provisions of the Gannett chain's code of conduct for journalists:
Invoking the word "crisis" might conjure up images of a Category 5 hurricane bearing down on the U.S. Gulf Coast or some other situation where decisive action much be taken to avert impending doom. But, is it appropriate to suddenly attach it to the key issue put forth by Obama administration, such as health care?
On July 30, CNBC dedicated its three-hour morning show "Squawk Box" to the issue and labeled the special coverage: "America's Healthcare Crisis." CNBC used the word "crisis" despite polls (including a July 30 Time article) that found 80 percent of the respondents satisfied with their health care.
In an open letter sent today to ABC News President David Westin, NewsBusters.org Publisher Brent Bozell questioned the ethics of ABC as a "news" network and wondered "how in the world can anyone take ABC seriously" after it was announced that ABC News has hired Democratic donor Dr. Richard Besser to be their new Senior Medical Editor.
The letter begins here, and continues in its entirety below the fold.
July 30, 2009
Dear Mr. Westin,
It was reported today that you have hired Dr. Richard Besser as your new Senior Medical Editor. By now you also know Besser is a Barack Obama donor, having contributed $400 to his campaign in 2008.
As your new senior health correspondent, he will play a pivotal role in your coverage of the health care debate going forward. How in the world is this ethical?
CNN's Jim Acosta devoted a three-minute segment to the Scheiner's left-wing criticism of the president's health care plan, but excluded any other voices, even after the doctor took a shot at the insurance industry.
"Chicago doctor David Scheiner has taken a hard look at Obama's prescription for health care reform and sees bad medicine," Acosta said before explaining why the doctor is "so special."
In fact, Scheiner was Obama's personal doctor for 22 years, but he blasted the president's plan for not going "far enough." Scheiner advocated a single-payer system like in Canada and Europe.
"If I had to say the single one thing that's the worst part of it is that private insurance companies continue to be a part of the health scheme. Everybody keeps saying we don't want the government getting involved in health care - the government is involved in health care and Medicare and it works!" Scheiner said.
In a balanced report, Scheiner's attack on private insurers would have been a followed by a statement or representative from the insurance industry. Acosta didn't produce one. Nor did he point out that since 1970, the cost of Medicare has risen 34 percent more per patient "than the combined costs of all health care in America apart from Medicare and Medicaid." He also didn't question Scheiner about the problems Medicare has created for patients when doctors decide to opt out of Medicare (because of lower reimbursements and "too much" hassle).
On Wednesday's The O'Reilly Factor on FNC, host Bill O'Reilly cited the Business and Media Institute's recent study finding that broadcast network evening and morning news shows have slanted their coverage of President Obama's health care proposals heavily in the Democratic President's favor, as O'Reilly introduced a segment with FNC analyst and former CBS News correspondent Bernard Goldberg. O'Reilly:
Tonight, we have a number of topics for Mr. Goldberg, beginning with a new study by the Media Research Center, a conservative group out of Virginia. They analyzed more than 200 health care stories on the big three network morning and evening news programs. The Center found 70 percent of the soundbites used in those stories favored President Obama's health care vision – 70 percent.
CBS and NBC released new polls Wednesday night which illustrated how the public is moving against President Barack Obama on health care as his overall approval, at least in the NBC survey, fell to its lowest-ever level. But while both networks conveyed the bad news for Obama, NBC's Chuck Todd failed to point out how more now disapprove than approve of Obama's handling of health care, a devastating judgment for Obama, and CBS took time to elaborate on how “the poll also has some good news” for Obama.
“Less than half approve of the way President Obama is handling health care,” Katie Couric announced Wednesday night in reporting on the CBS News/New York Times poll,” but she saw a potential rebound ahead: “So he has some convincing to do. And that took him today to the Tar Heel State.” Chip Reid soon ran through bad news for Obama -- “69 percent of Americans say they're concerned quality of care will diminish...77 percent that their medical costs will rise” -- but then delivered some “good news for the President: 82 percent of Americans agree with him that the health care system is in need of a major overhaul” and “if there's no reform, 75 percent are concerned their costs will go up.” And “66 percent support the public option.”
On NBC, Todd damned with faint praise: “If there is one piece of good news that the White House can take from this is that he's still the most popular politician in the country. But that's part of the problem, he is now viewed as just another politician” as “this campaign for health care...has taken a serious toll.” With a matching graphic on screen, Todd recounted how the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll determined that “for the third straight month, the President's job approval rating has dropped -- from 61 percent in April, to 56 percent in June, to 53 percent now.”
On Tuesday's Glenn Beck Program on FNC, host Beck picked up on P.J. Gladnick's recent NewsBusters posting which helped bring attention to President Obama's double standard in charging that Congress was "rushed" by the Bush administration into passing budgets and anti-terrorism measures with little time for debate -- in a 2004 interview with Randi Rhodes on the left-wing Air America -- even though as President he has pressed Congress to act quickly on a number of major spending proposals since taking office.
Beck also ran a clip of Congressman John Conyers as the Michigan Democrat scoffed at suggestions members of Congress should read and understand bills before voting for them. Conyers: "To get up and say, 'Read the bill.' What good is reading the bill if it's 1,000 pages and you don't have two days and two lawyers to find out what it means after you read the bill?"
During the show's regular "Hot List" segment, Beck recounted: "The Web site NewsBusters.org posting a November 2004 interview with Air America's Randi Rhodes, where Senator-elect Obama complains about the Bush administration."
Then an audio clip of Obama from the 2004 interview ran:
NPR on Wednesday released results of a new poll finding declining support for President Obama and his healthcare initiative while also showing a tightening in which Party folks plan to vote for in the 2010 elections.
Also of note was the glaring difference between those believing the country is going in the wrong track versus the right track with those feeling the former exceeding the latter by a greater margin than has been seen in over a year, and the highest since the financial collapse last September.
Though none of this is surprising given other polling data of late, it is interesting to see this coming from NPR.
The results were published in an online article as well as discussed on Wednesday's Morning Edition (audio embedded below the fold, h/t Soren Dayton):
Liberal hopes for a quick health care bill are in collapse, as Senate Democrats push any floor action off until the fall, a move House Democrats may match this week. But if the Obama White House is upset that their plans for a huge expansion of government health care have been delayed, they surely cannot complain about the media coverage.
Last week, a new study by the Media Research Center’s Business & Media Institute (BMI) found broadcast coverage during the first six months of 2009 tilted heavily in favor of Barack Obama’s big government plan. BMI’s Julia Seymour and Sarah Knoploh looked at 224 health care stories on the ABC, CBS and NBC morning and evening news shows from Obama’s January 20 inauguration through his June 24 prime time special on ABC.
The New York Times' Paul Krugman is a Nobel Prize-winning economist and staunch champion of government medicine a la the Canadian model of our neighbors to the north.
Just this past Saturday in "Toyota, Moving Northward" he flogged the advantages of the single-payer system Canada offers. He postulated that one reason why the Japanese auto maker is locating it's new RAV4 plant in Ontario is their government medicine:
Canada's other big selling point is its national health insurance system, which saves auto manufacturers large sums in benefit payments compared with their costs in the United States.
Suddenly Krugman the Leftist is all for huge government subsidies for big business.
Krugman's Nobel-prize winning economic mind then offers up:
So what's the impact on taxpayers? In Canada, there's no impact at all: since all Canadians get government-provided health insurance in any case, the additional auto jobs won't increase government spending.
Really? Adding workers brought in from outside Canada to the government rolls won't increase government spending? A little of Krugman's new math: X plus 5,000 still somehow equals X.
In highlighting a new study which found $147 billion a year is spent on obesity-related health care and obese people spend $1,400 more a year for health services, ABC and CBS on Monday night couldn't resist interjecting a plug for imposing a tax on soda to bring in revenue to pay for ObamaCare.
ABC's Sharyn Alfonsi asserted “health officials seem to like the idea of a federal soda tax” since “adding a tax of three cents a can to high-calorie sodas could generate $24 billion over the next four years,” and while “opponents argue Americans won't tolerate another tax,” supporters “say it could cut health care costs and America's ever- expanding bottom line, all at once.”
Following a full CBS Evening News story on the obesity report, anchor Katie Couric set up a story on the tax idea: “Now, some believe another way to help pay for health care reform is to put a tax on one of the causes of obesity: soft drinks full of sugar. Nancy Cordes has more on that.” Cordes began: “Americans consume roughly 250 more calories everyday than they did in the '70s and half those calories come from sugary drinks, which is why some health advocates are urging Congress to help pay for health care reform with a tax on non-diet sodas...”
A week after ABC anchor Dan Harris hailed how “Senator Ted Kennedy is using his own battle against brain cancer to make an emotional pitch for health care reform. Writing in Newsweek, Kennedy called it 'the cause of my life,'” Sunday's World News devoted a full story to Kennedy's cause as Harris' tease framed Kennedy's big government agenda in the most-benign light: “In the game. An ailing Ted Kennedy, now working from his sick bed to achieve his life-long goal of health care for everyone.”
He introduced the subsequent story: “Behind the scenes, Senator Ted Kennedy, a man who has called this his life's work, is playing a surprisingly large role, despite his brain tumor.” Reporter John Hendren fretted: “Senator Edward Kennedy is the missing man in the battle for health care reform. On Capitol Hill, nearly everyone agrees things would be different if the liberal lion were here.”
Hendren went back to March to show a clip of President Obama saluting Kennedy -- “To Sir Edward Kennedy. That's the kind of greeting a knight deserves. It is thrilling to see you here, Teddy” -- before effusing over how “in his absence, his colleagues invoke his name, hoping also to borrow his legislative prowess.” Nonetheless, Hendren concluded, passing Obama's health agenda has been “made harder by the absence of its top advocate on Capitol Hill.” As if that's a bad thing.
What was a terrible week for Barack Obama likely worsened Sunday when the Washington Post editorial board accused the President of withholding from the public the true costs of the healthcare reform he so eagerly seeks.
Makes one wonder if the White House will view the Post's criticisms much as former President Lyndon Johnson did Walter Cronkite's 1968 declaration that the Vietnam War was a stalement.
With as much as Obama has on the line with this agenda item, these words from the Post have to hurt (h/t Jake Tapper):
House healthcare negotiations dissolved in acrimony on Friday, with Blue Dog Democrats saying they were “lied” to by their Democratic leaders. In advance of a subsequent press conference called by House leadership, Blue Dog liaison Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-Calif.) said the healthcare bill should be staying in committee...The seven Blue Dogs on the Energy and Commerce Committee stormed out of a Friday meeting with their committee chairman, Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), saying Waxman had been negotiating in bad faith over a number of provisions Blue Dogs demanded be changed in the stalled healthcare bill. “I’ve been lied to,” Blue Dog Coalition Co-Chairman Charlie Melancon (D-La.) said on Friday. “We have not had legitimate negotiations.
Is healthcare reform as the Democrats see it dead?
ABC, CBS and NBC all led Friday night with President Obama’s decision to appear in the White House press room to backtrack on the fury he inflamed by presuming “stupidity” by the police in the Professor Henry Gates alleged “racial profiling” incident, but only Katie Couric trumpeted Obama’s appearance in the White House briefing room -- which the CBS Evening News ran for an uninterrupted four solid minutes -- as “extraordinary” and “really unprecedented,” before she pouted over how “the timing could not be worse. Just as he was pushing so hard for health care reform and having some pretty serious setbacks.”
She pressed Bob Schieffier to provide Obama with guidance to get back on track on health care: “And how do you think the President can, if he can, resuscitate this whole effort?” Schieffer advised the obvious: “What he's got to do, I think now, is set out some specific things that he wants them to do and then push them to do it.” (Between the four minutes of Obama and when Couric turned to Schieffer, CBS aired a piece from reporter Bill Whitaker on why blacks fear the police.)
Usually, when a reporter files a fact-check on a presidential press conference, there are some definitive mistakes listed. Clay Waters at TimesWatch noted that even The New York Times found that Obama's deficit-cutting claims would only be true if he left every troop in Iraq for another ten years. But after Wednesday night's press conference was aired live on National Public Radio, NPR health reporter Julie Rovner signaled that Obama may have goofed when he said that nationalizing health care wouldn't add to the deficit, but "there's a distinction about whether or not you think that adds to the deficit or not. I guess it's people's call to make on their own." Here's how it unfolded:
MADELEINE BRAND, anchor: I think there's a couple of places where the president may have sort of misstated a few things. There was one place, where he said that he wasn't going to let it add to the deficit. Here's what he said.
BARACK OBAMA: I've also pledged that health insurance reform will not add to our deficit over the next decade, and I mean it.
On the Thursday, July 16, Glenn Beck Program on FNC, magician Penn Jillette and ABC’s 20/20 anchor John Stossel – both self-described libertarians – appeared as guests to talk about health care reform. Stossel used the time to preview his upcoming segment on the problems with socialized medicine in Canada, which will air on a future episode of 20/20. Stossel informed viewers of Canada's shortage of doctors: "What stuck most with me was the town that had a lottery. So many people are waiting to get a family doctor, they can't get one. Once a month, the town clerk pulls names out of a box and he calls the lucky winners – congratulations, now you can have a family doctor." FNC later played a clip from the upcoming segment in which the 20/20 anchor talks about a privately run veterinary hospital in Canada which provides medical care for animals much more quickly than humans can receive similar care from the government-run system.
After Jillette, who co-hosts the show, Penn and Teller: B.S., on Showtime, argued that too much health insurance reduces price competition and leads to higher prices, Stossel complained that the plans promoted by politicians, by increasing the amount of insurance, would make matters worse: "As Penn said, is if you had grocery insurance, you wouldn't care, and the grocery store, and the incentives that creates to spend more are just insane. And that's the problem with health care, and yet, the politicians say the solutions are always more insurance."
Jillette soon complained that too much socialized medicine already exists in America – in the form of Medicaid and Medicare – and touted individual choice:
It’s not surprising that Democrats treat the health-insurance industry as an enemy – an enemy that "single payer" advocates actually want to eliminate and liquidate.
But The Washington Post published an article Wednesday attacking insurance-industry claims that should have come with a "news analysis" label at the very least. Reporter David Hilzenrath’s story was headlined "Health Insurance Industry Spins Data in Fight Against Public Plan."
It reads like an attempt to rebut industry critics of the Democrat talking points, and suggest they "cherry pick the facts" in their arguments:
Indeed, the leader of the insurance lobby has sent lawmakers a message: Be careful what you change, because "77 percent of Americans are satisfied with their existing health insurance coverage."
ABC’s George Stephanopoulos giddily appraised President Obama during Thursday’s Good Morning America: “It’s clear, listening to the President last night, that he knows his stuff. He knows health care policy.” He also predicted that the passage of the Democrat’s health care “reform” plan was “closer” after the presser, despite his later admission that it had been delayed until after August.
The This Week anchor appeared early in the 7 am hour to analyze the press conference. GMA anchor Diane Sawyer first asked: “Closer to a health care bill this morning or further away?” Stephanopoulos replied: “Closer -- and it’s clear -- listening to the President last night, that he knows his stuff. He knows health care policy. I also think he made a strong case against the status quo. We just couldn’t keep doing what we’re doing right now.”
The only negative remark that the former Clinton administration official made was in analyzing the President’s success in forwarding his plan. Stephanopoulos hinted that the blame belonged more with Congress: “I think he was less successful...in selling what he wants to do in part because...he doesn’t have a single plan to sell right now.”
Democrats are preventing Republican House Members from sending their constituents a mailing that is critical of the majority’s health care reform plan, blocking the mailing by alleging that it is inaccurate. House Republicans are crying foul and claiming that the Democrats are using their majority to prevent GOP Members from communicating with their constituents. The dispute centers on a chart created by Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) and Republican staff of the Joint Economic Committee to illustrate the organization of the Democratic health care plan...In a memo sent Monday to Republicans on the House franking commission, Democrats argue that sending the chart to constituents as official mail would violate House rules because the information is misleading.
NBC's medical correspondent, Dr. Nancy Snyderman, was “rooting” for President Barack Obama to do well in selling his health care takeover during his Wednesday night press conference: “As a physician, you know, I felt like I understood the complexity of the problem. As an American citizen, I was rooting for the President to hit a home run.”
On the 10 PM EDT Hardball an hour after Obama wrapped up, Snyderman, who hosts the noon EDT weekday hour on MSNBC, fretted that he had “whiffed” in not making some persuasive points, such as using “plain talk to take the scare out of things like rationing, which basically is what's going on now -- some people get medicines, some people don't. It didn't come through tonight.” She also ominously warned of disaster if Obama does not prevail: “We're going to pay big time if we don't get this. I don't think we're going to be a great world power.”