Back in 1992, ABC World News Tonight anchor Peter Jennings told viewers his network would skip coverage of “routine” campaign events, unless they actually contributed new information that viewers could use. In an effort to keep ABC from being used as a propaganda arm for politicians, Jennings declared “there will be less attention to staged appearances and sound bites designed exclusively for television.”
He later elaborated to the Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz, saying he did not want to be “‘seduced by pictures as we’ve been so easily seduced in the past. I don’t think any of us ever wants to be in the flag factory situation again,’ referring to a 1988 Bush campaign event.”
Evidently, times have changed. On Thursday’s World News, ABC anchor Diane Sawyer ran as a “news” item a White House-produced video — complete with schmaltzy background music — of President Obama taking a phone call from a cancer patient who, Sawyer informed viewers “is now able to get health insurance” thanks to ObamaCare.
Catching up on an item from Wednesday, uniquely among the broadcast network evening newscasts, the CBS Evening News informed its viewers that ObamaCare regulations will result in some insurance companies refusing to sell new policies specifically for children whose parents otherwise might have wanted to purchase such policies. Faced with rules that would prevent the insurance industry from denying coverage to children with preexisting health problems, at least three companies will be discontinuing child-only policies. CBS anchor Katie Couric set up the report: "And it didn't take long. The insurance industry has already found a way around that preexisting condition provision for children's policies: Don't sell any. And that could affect a half a million Americans under the age of 18."
Correspondent Sharyl Attkisson recounted the story of a man who has had trouble purchasing insurance for his daughter because of a preexisting condition, and then informed viewers of the disappointing news that she still will likely not be able to obtain insurance. After noting President Barack Obama’s promise to ban discrimination against children with preexisting health problems, Attkisson continued:
The first wave of Obama-care goes into effect today, and New York Times health-care reporter Kevin Sack celebrated with a series of propaganda-style articles for the front of the National section, topped by "For Many Families, Health Care Relief Begins Today." (As did higher costs and denied coverage, but the Times didn't get into that.)
The Times's headline reads more like an Obama administration press release than an actual instance of journalism, and Sack's reference (in a news story) to the "Darwinian insurance system" doesn't inspire confidence in his objectivity.
Sometimes lost in the partisan clamor about the new health care law is the profound relief it is expected to bring to hundreds of thousands of Americans who have been stricken first by disease and then by a Darwinian insurance system.
On Thursday, the six-month anniversary of the signing of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a number of its most central consumer protections take effect, just in time for the midterm elections.
Starting now, insurance companies will no longer be permitted to exclude children because of pre-existing health conditions, which the White House said could enable 72,000 uninsured to gain coverage. Insurers also will be prohibited from imposing lifetime limits on benefits.
"The justices have not struck down a major piece of legislation, let alone a president's signature initiative, as beyond Congress's power to regulate commerce in some 75 years."
That's how Newsweek's Stuart Taylor Jr. today all but argued that, political ideology of the Supreme Court's majority aside, a Supreme Court decision declaring unconstitutional the "individual mandate" of ObamaCare is quite unlikely.
But while Taylor may be right that no signature presidential initiative post-New Deal has been declared unconstitutional by the Court on the grounds that it violated the interstate commerce clause, he neglected to mention there are two key cases in the past 15 years where the Supreme Court did set outer limits to Congress's exploitation of the commerce clause as a fountain of federal power.
"This is what we are to expect, and it's going to get worse between now and November."
That's how NewsBusters publisher and Media Research Center President Brent Bozell reacted this morning on Fox Business Network's "Varney & Company" to the media's drumbeat of criticism regarding Tea Party-backed Republican nominees for office this November.
Bozell agreed with host Stuart Varney that the media are incessantly bashing Tea Party favorites like Delaware's Christine O'Donnell because they have to change the subject from the demonstrable failures of Obamanomics [MP3 audio available here; WMV video for download here]:
James Taranto at the Wall Street Journal pointed out in his "Best of the Web Today" review on Thursday how Mark Halperin of Time seems to disagree so vehemently with himself about how the Obama presidency was supposed to unfold this year. Why would Obama delay business-tax-cut talk until the fall, for example:
It is fair to ask (and many Democrats have) why the President is only now proposing such critical measures, rather than offering them up earlier in his term, before election-season politics brought governing to a standstill.
It's fair to answer, too. While Americans were anxious about the economy, Obama was obsessed with wrecking our health care. He was urged on by cheerleaders in the media like the one who wrote an article on March 22, the day after the House passed ObamaCare, which began as follows:
New York Times columnist Tom Friedman on Sunday accused Barack Obama of badly misreading his Election Day mandate, and said the current White House is the worst communicating administration he's ever seen.
Appearing on the Roundtable segment of ABC's "This Week," Friedman blasted the President saying, "I'm for more health care. I'm glad we've extended it to more Americans. But the fact is there's a real, I think, argument for the case that Obama completely over-read his mandate when he came in."
Friedman continued, "He was elected to get rid of one man's job, George Bush, and get the rest of us jobs. I think that was the core thing, and by starting with health care and not making his first year the year of innovation, expanding the economy and expanding jobs, you know, I think looking back, that was a political mistake."
Moments later, the Times columnist said, "I've never seen a worse communicating administration" (video follows with partial transcript and commentary):
It has now been five days since Politico's Ben Smith published a powerpoint presentation created by an amalgamation of powerful left wing interest groups, conceding that two of the central arguments for passing ObamaCare - that it will lower the deficit and will reduce health care costs - have failed.
For a group of organizations integral to the passage of the law, that was a stunning admission. And yet, the mainstream press is nearly silent on the issue. Searches on Nexis and Google News reveal no coverage from the major television networks, the cable news channels (with the exception of Fox), the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, NPR, PBS, or Newsweek. To their credit, Time Magazine and the Washington Post published a blog post each on the revelation.
Even while discussing ObamaCare and its potential effects on the deficit and health care costs, some media outlets managed to avoid any mention of a fact Democrats now seem to be conceding: "the White House's first and most aggressive sales pitch have essentially failed," as Smith notes.
Newsweek, recently sold for one dollar by the Washington Post Company but still in its hands, ranked the United States 11th, just behind Denmark, in this week’s “The Best Countries in the World” cover story which put Finland at #1, followed by Switzerland and Sweden. There’s hope for improvement, however, thanks to George W. Bush’s departure from the White House and Barack Obama’s arrival. Michael Hirsh explained the beyond the top ten rank:
America hasn’t recovered from the serious blows to its stature delivered by nearly a decade of policy debacles. As Obama never tires of reminding the American public...he inherited a Herculean task: the Augean-stable-size mess left behind by George W. Bush.
The August 23 & 30 two-week edition cover story package certainly reflected Obama’s policy agenda. A sidebar (apparently not online) on the nations with the best health care, which put Japan at the top, touted fourth-best Spain where “universal coverage is a constitutionally guaranteed right, and there are no out-of-pocket expenses aside from some prescription drugs.” The U.S. wasn’t even one of the top ten countries listed (the full list online has the U.S. at #26 in health, tied with the Czech Republic and Chile and behind Slovenia.)
In a two-page spread on particular bests for a bunch of nations, Newsweek’s Karen Fragala Smith, who tagged the Czech Republic as the “Best Place for Sex” and Belgium as the “Best Place to Be a Dog Owner,” declared France the “Best Place to Have a Baby,” trumpeting “low-cost health care” and nanny state services:
Maman is sitting pretty, with as much as seven months’ paid leave, low-cost health care, and a baby nurse who makes house calls. If she’s sick, the government sends someone to do the family’s laundry.
How dense and forgetful does Newsweek think socially conservative voters are?
Apparently so much so that the magazine's Ben Adler predicts yesterday's stay on Judge Vaughn Walker's ruling permitting same-sex marriages in California will blunt the hopes Republicans have of social conservatives coming out in force on Election Day to help push the GOP to victory in the midterms on Election Day.
Social conservatives were set to use the images of gay couples getting married in California as grist to motivate their base to turn out in the midterm elections. Republicans look certain to gain seats in both Houses of Congress in November, as opposition parties typically do during midterms. Whether they will pull the inside straight they need to take over either, or both, the House and Senate, will depend on any number of factors, but turnout is sure to be one of them.
Further, Adler maintained, because "the Democrats have not done much to invite images of an American Gomorrah" what with President Obama moving "very gingerly" and tentatively on issues like repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," social conservatives need the visual impact of gay and lesbian couples at the altar this fall to incense social conservatives and drive them like angry hornets to the ballot box.
As media predictably pound the table for Congress to allow the Bush tax cuts to expire, an interesting analysis by Washington Post contributor Robert J. Samuelson should raise a caution flag.
Higher taxes inhibit couples from having children which in other developed nations has led to longterm economic paralysis.
In a western civilization that got drunk on entitlement programs in the previous century, population growth is essential as all of these schemes have a Ponzi component to them: they only work if you continually have new people entering the system to pay for those collecting benefits.
As Samuelson outlined in the Post Monday, our federal income tax structure is quite at odds with our best interests as a nation:
A well known political figure appears on MSNBC's Daily Rundown and announces, in the wake of Missouri voters overwhelmingly supporting Proposition C to remove the insurance mandate from ObamaCare, that it is so unpopular that it will probably be removed from that legislation or that the courts will rule it unconstitutional. So was the person who delivered this opinion a conservative Republican? Nope. It was Howard Dean, former Democrat presidential candidate and chairman of the DNC who made that statement to a surprised Chuck Todd and Savannah Guthrie.
The Daily Rundown conversation begins with Chuck Todd discussing the Proposition C landslide in Missouri:
CHUCK TODD: In Missouri this week there was referendum on the ballot. Non-binding but it was, frankly, the legislature didn't want to deal with the issue of healthcare and this mandate and about whether the state should challenge the mandate on the new healthcare plan. It got 71%. Yes, more Republicans turned out than Democrats. But 71% in Missouri, that has to make Democrats nervous, particularly in that Senate race. Robin Carnahan has got an uphill battle.
Juan Williams on Sunday said the passage of Missouri's anti-ObamaCare ballot initiative last week is irrelevant because only older white people voted for it.
Discussing the issue on "Fox News Sunday," the liberal FNC contributor said, "As far as the Missouri vote, you get 70 percent inside an echo chamber of older white people, no not in St. Louis not in Kansas City, saying, 'Oh yeah, we don't like a requirement that everybody has to have healthcare even though the hospitals in Missouri say it's gonna drive up our costs.'"
Host Chris Wallace seemed somewhat stunned by this and asked, "What happened to respect for democracy?"
When Williams elaborated saying that he believes this will eventually be decided by the courts, Liz Cheney rightly scolded her colleague, "I think it is stunning you and the White House are unwilling to heed the votes of the people in Missouri" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Mark Levin highlighted some news from Sweden on his national radio show about a man who sewed up his own gash in his leg. Levin said "get ready for it," joking about how efficient ObamaCare was going to be. This human-interest story will probably not make the liberal media. From The Local:
A 32-year-old took the needle into his hands when he tired of the wait at Sundsvall hospital in northern Sweden and sewed up the cut in his leg himself. The man was later reported to the police for his impromptu handiwork.
"It took such a long time," the man told the local Sundsvall Tidning daily.
The man incurred the deep cut when he sliced his leg on the sharp edge of a kitchen stove while he was renovating at home.
In the first voter referendum on ObamaCare, Missourians on Tuesday overwhelmingly (by 71 to 29 percent) backed Proposition C which called upon the state to enact a statute to “deny the government authority to penalize citizens for refusing to purchase private health insurance,” an outcome the St. Louis Post-Dispatch described as “rebuking President Barack Obama's administration.” On Wednesday night, however, the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts skipped the bad news for President Obama – yet all found time to celebrate his 49th birthday.
(The Missouri repudiation of a central tenet of ObamaCare came a day after another setback for ObamaCare which the newscasts also ignored: A federal district judge in Richmond rejected the Obama administration’s quest to block Virginia’s lawsuit challenging Congress’ jurisdiction to mandate individuals buy health insurance.)
“At the White House today, they sang to the President,” ABC anchor Diane Sawyer touted over a graphic which declared it Obama’s “Big Day.” Viewers were treated to one stanza of “Happy birthday to you!” before Sawyer related: “He says we've watched him go gray, and the photographs since the campaign do show a little speckle in that hair.”
Did you think that, with the perspective that time tends to impart, Alan Grayson would have backed off his unhinged allegation that Republicans wanted sick people to die quickly? Trick question! I did say Alan Grayson. On the evening's Ed Show, the dippy Dem congressman from Florida emphatically stated that his ugly assertion, made on the floor of the House, was "the truth."
Grayson was responding to the suggestion by Kurt Kelly--one of the seven Republicans vying for the right to knock Grayson off--that by missing a vote on an allocation of funds for our overseas military, perhaps Grayson wanted the troops to die. Kelly was clearly riffing off Grayson's earlier allegation. That didn't stop Grayson from taking great umbrage, claiming that the difference between his assertion and Kelly's was that Kelly was lying whereas he Grayson was telling "the truth."
Monday's New York Times front page contains a "Congressional Memo" by David Herszenhorn and Carl Hulse, "In Personal Ethics Battles, a Partywide Threat." The party is the Democrat Party, the threat possible ethics trials for prominent Democratic representatives Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters.
After summarizing the danger that the trials pose for Democrats in an election year, the Times checked in on an unreliable source, Rep. James Clyburn, Democrat of South Carolina, to raise a defense of Rangel and Waters, both of whom are black, as is Clyburn.
In her debut Sunday morning as host of ABC’s This Week with Christiane Amanpour, the long-time CNN international correspondent brought a foreigner’s perspective to the program as she treated her lack of knowledge and familiarity with U.S. politics as an asset and the current New York City resident seemed to say that after more than two decades of covering the world she had decided to allow herself to deal with U.S. politics now that “the story in this country is turning into one of the most fascinating.” She asserted in an opening explanation: “I'm also eager to open a window on the world.”
In her interview with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi she approached the Speaker as an empathetic liberal confused about why the public would vote in Republicans after all of the Democratic achievements (“You, by all accounts, are one of the most, if not the most, powerful and successful Speakers in the history of the United States. You’ve passed so much legislation...”) and fretted about “so much polarization” against Pelosi as exemplified by an anti-Pelosi ad which Amanpour described as painting Pelosi as “the bogeyman.” Amanpour despaired: “There seems to be a never-ending partisanship. What is it you can do for the people in this highly-polarized situation?”
She framed questions to Pelosi around phrases such as “from an outsider’s point of view” and “for me, looking in from outside.” Amanpour displayed less ideological affinity and was more engaged and informed about Afghanistan when she quizzed Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.
"But it is an open question whether conservative media outlets risk damage to their credibility when obscure or misleading stories are blown out of proportion and when what amounts to political opposition research is presented as news." -- Media reporter Brian Stelter on the Andrew Breitbart-Shirley Sherrod tape controversy, July 26.
Leave That Sort of Thing to Us, Part II
"But what is emerging is more of a permanent crusade, where information is not only power, but a means to a specific end. As content providers increasingly hack their own route to an audience, it's becoming clear that many are less interested in covering the game than tilting the field." -- Media columnist David Carr on the Andrew Breitbart-Shirley Sherrod tape controversy, July 26.
Conservative Sen. James Inhofe, "Laughable Fool"
"Senator Inhofe should be a harmless diversion, the kind of laughable fool that any state can kick back to the capital, where hard-earned ignorance is supported by a well-paid staff." -- From former reporter Timothy Egan's July 21 post at nytimes.com.
On Sunday, the New York Times issued a surprise half-correction to the unverified claim, made in Matt Bai's July 18 story, that racial epithets were hurled at Democratic congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis during protests against Obama-care at the U.S. Capitol on March 20. Bai wrote:
The question of racism in the amorphous Tea Party movement is, of course, a serious one, since so much of the Republican Party seems to be in the thrall of its activists. There have been scattered reports around the country of racially charged rhetoric within the movement, most notably just before the vote on the new health care law last March, when Representative John Lewis, Democrat of Georgia, the legendary civil rights leader, was showered with hateful epithets outside the Capitol.
The portion in bold above has now been omitted from the online version of Bai's story. Here's the correction, in Sunday's edition:
For general discussion and debate. Possible talking point: Britain decentralizing its National Health Care.
Practical details of the plan are still sketchy. But its aim is clear: to shift control of England's $160 billion annual health budget from a centralized bureaucracy to doctors at the local level. Under the plan, $100 billion to $125 billion a year would be meted out to general practitioners, who would use the money to buy services from hospitals and other health care providers. The plan would also shrink the bureaucratic apparatus, in keeping with the government's goal to effect $30 billion in "efficiency savings" in the health budget by 2014 and to reduce administrative costs by 45 percent. Tens of thousands of jobs would be lost because layers of bureaucracy would be abolished.
Isn't it embarrassing that as European nations realize their socialist programs are bankrupting them we have a President and an entire political Party trying to emulate here what is failing there?
"For ABC to be giving aid and comfort to these lies is absolutely disgraceful," Bozell argued on the July 16 "Media Mash" segment on FNC's "Hannity."
Also discussed on Friday's appearance was how the media persistently insisted that ObamaCare would not allow for federal funding of abortion and that conservative critics were misleading the public by claiming as much. Now, months after Democrats strong-armed generally pro-life Democrats into scuttling their objections and voting for the health care overhaul, MRC's CNSNews.com is reporting on how abortion will be covered on health insurance in at in at least two states under ObamaCare provisions.
"The reality is Doug Johnson and the National Right to Life Committee nailed this one right on the head.... It was true, it's perfectly true," Bozell noted of conservative warnings of taxpayer-subsidized abortion under ObamaCare.
Maryland will join Pennsylvania as the second state to use federal tax dollars to pay for abortions under the new health care law signed by President Barack Obama in March, according to information released by Maryland’s State Health Insurance Plan.
Maryland will receive $85 million in federal funds for its federally mandated high-risk insurance pool, which will cover abortions. As CNSNews.com reported on July 14, Pennsylvania will receive $160 million in federal funds for its high-risk insurance pool, which will also cover abortions.
During the debate over the health-care bill, President Obama delivered a speech to a joint session of Congress, saying: “Under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions.”
In the last two days, CBS has reported on its latest poll, emphasizing that Americans are pessimistic about an improving economy, with a little emphasis on how their measure of Barack Obama’s approval rating (44 percent) has tied his lowest number in their poll. But none of the CBS on-air stories have mentioned the poll’s findings on how the approval of ObamaCare has shrunk by seven points. Stephanie Condon reported for the CBS News Political Hotsheet:
Americans continue to be more likely to disapprove than approve of President Obama's sweeping health care reforms, a new CBS News poll shows. While approval of the law is slightly higher than it was when the reforms were signed into law in March, support for the measure has dropped seven points in the past two months.
Forty-nine percent of Americans now disapprove of the health care reform measure, according to the poll, which was conducted July 9-12. Thirty-six percent support the law.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs has evaded answering the question of whether President Barack Obama agrees with Dr. Donald Berwick, his newly appointed administrator of Medicare and Medicaid, who has insisted that health-care systems must redistribute wealth.
"Excellent health care is by definition redistributional," Berwick said in a speech delivered on July 1, 2008.
When asked directly at the July 7 White House press briefing whether Obama agreed with this, Gibbs would not answer the question. Instead, he parried it with jocular statements about the provenance of the quote.
Covering the development, Time magazine's Adam Sorensen cast the appointment of Dr. Donald Berwick (pictured at right) as a blow to "hyperbolic" Republicans who hoped to make political hay out of the Harvard professor's confirmation hearings, yet Sorensen failed to carry any criticism of the Obama administration for the "unusual" maneuver or to examine how the move might bode poorly for Democrats given the public's concerns over the impact of ObamaCare on the health-care system.
So you want to crawl under a high-powered lamp and bake your skin so that it has a brownish-orangish glow to it, even though there are potential health consequences. Well, the federal government is here to save you and, according to "CBS Evening News," that's not a bad thing.
The new federal 10 percent tax on indoor tanning has provoked odd alliances - such as when Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., told "Snooki" from MTV's "Jersey Shore"through Twitterhe would "never tax your tanning bed." But on the June 30 broadcast of "Evening News," CBS correspondent Michelle Miller made the case why the government should.
"Gisselle Colon wanted to be bronze and beautiful. She sunbathed and bought a membership to a tanning salon several years ago. Last month, things turned ugly," Miller said. "This is her scar. In May, Gisselle was diagnosed with melanoma, one of the deadliest and most preventable forms of cancer." (h/t @KenShepherd)
MSNBC contributor Lawrence O'Donnell will take over at the 10 pm slot, the cable network announced Tuesday. O'Donnell, who guest-hosted "Countdown" while Keith Olbermann was on leave, is a self-described socialist, and will fit in nicely with the rest of MSNBC's prime-time lineup.
The 10 pm slot has up to this time been "Countdown" reruns, so MSNBC viewers will now be treated to a tad different far-left rant than Olbermann's 8 pm far-left rant.
That said, O'Donnell's segment will hardly be a breath of fresh air if his previous antics are any indication. He has a short, if colorful history of liberal outbursts. Let us review some of his greatest hits: