It's probably safe to assume that a lot of reporters in the mainstream media lean to the left side of the ideological spectrum. And it was seen throughout the health care debate over the past year and a half - that somehow we need to raise the rhetoric beyond hyperbole like death panels, etc.
"[T]he Post found itself in another potentially embarrassing and ethically compromised position on Wednesday after one of its most senior reporters abruptly canceled an appearance at her own book party, which was being sponsored by a public relations firm with strong ties to the Democratic Party," Peters wrote.
Another "now they tell us" moment from the New York Times on Obama-care appeared on Thursday's front page: "Study Cited for Health-Cost Cuts Overstated Its Upside, Critics Say" by health reporters Reed Abelson and Gardiner Harris. The Study originated from the obscure Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care group and was heavily promoted on Capitol Hill by Congressional Budget Office director turned Obama budget director Peter Orszag.
Abelson has trod lightly over this ground before, in a December 23, 2009 story, pointing out flaws in the Dartmouth study, but this is the first Times story that challenges the findings root and branch. This after years of Times reporters and writers promoting the study, itself heavily promoted by Orszag.
In selling the health care overhaul to Congress, the Obama administration cited a once obscure research group at Dartmouth College to claim that it could not only cut billions in wasteful health care spending but make people healthier by doing so.
Wasteful spending -- perhaps $700 billion a year -- "does nothing to improve patient health but subjects you and me to tests and procedures that aren't necessary and are potentially harmful," the president's budget director, Peter Orszag, wrote in a blog post characteristic of the administration's argument.
Even Dartmouth's claims about which hospitals and regions are cheapest may be suspect. The principal argument behind Dartmouth's research is that doctors in the Upper Midwest offer consistently better and cheaper care than their counterparts in the South and in big cities, and if Southern and urban doctors would be less greedy and act more like ones in Minnesota, the country would be both healthier and wealthier.
The senior editor of the liberal online publication Mediaite asked an astonishingly absurd question in a headline Tuesday:
"Does The BP Oil Spill Mark The Death Of The Tea Party Movement?"
Glynnis MacNicol's premise in her piece by that name: "The call for less government intervention into the lives of ‘regular' citizens that was so prevalent throughout last summer, and fall, and winter has gone nearly silent in the face of the Gulf disaster."
MacNicol's supporting evidence of the Tea Party's demise:
Be on the lookout for media coverage of the new Medicare brochure. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) sent out this glossy piece this week to more than 40 million Medicare recipients telling them that with ObamaCare, everything is dandy!
In fact, the CMS mail piece - which likely cost $8 million at the least - wildly exaggerates claims of patient security and ignores what CMS itself has declared to be true about ObamaCare.
The mailer gushes that "Medicare is strong and solvent" and that beneficiaries will see "better access to care."
"This brochure provides you with accurate information about the new services and benefits to help you and your family now and in the future," it says.
Appearing on the May 13 "Hannity" program for a "Media Mash" segment, NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell tackled the media coverage of the Elena Kagan nomination. After the Fox News host played some clips of network anchors focusing on how the Obama Court nominee loves opera, softball, and poker, Bozell noted it was par for the course.
While "from the moment he was nominated, [Clarence Thomas] was savaged," whenever a liberal is nominated by a Democratic president, the media label him or her a moderate and focus on humanizing them, Media Research Center President Brent Bozell noted.
The birth control pill was invented 50 years ago this month. CBS Nightly News anchor Katie Couric was all set to "break out the cake and streamers." But first, she wanted to inform her viewers of a pressing national need: federal subsidies for the pill. Seriously.
Couric was distraught during her "Notebook" segment last night that, in her mind, not enough women have access to birth control. Her solution? Classify it as "preventive medicine" so that federal funds can be allocated to distributing it under the new health care law. Calling birth control "preventive medicine" seems to assume that pregnancy is a medical disorder of some sort, but I digress.
The segment runs like an infomercial for the liberal position on birth control. It lauds Planned Parenthood, the "need" for publicly funded birth control, and even throws in a dash of anti-insurance company populism. Couric caps the segment off by saying, "We've come a long way, baby, but not far enough." (Video and transcript below the fold - h/t Story Balloon)
The front of Wednesday's Health & Science section of The Washington Post seemed more like the editorial page. In huge letters was the headline "How the new health-care law might make your doctor better informed, more efficient, more responsive, and, maybe happier". According to Post reporter (and doctor) David Brown -- in an excerpt from the new Post-authored book "Landmark -- some resent Obama's "evolutionary change" and others find it "liberating."
But one thing is clear: There are a lot of unhappy people practicing medicine right now.
A survey of physicians in 119 clinics in New York and the Midwest published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2009 found that 48 percent reported working in "chaotic" environments. Thirty percent said they needed at least half again as much time for appointments as they were given. Only a quarter said their practices strongly emphasized quality. Nearly a third said they were likely to leave their jobs in the next two years.
If the new types of practice envisioned by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act take hold, much of that could change for the better.
Fox News's Megyn Kelly Tuesday featured a marvelous comparison of how the media cover Tea Parties versus immigration protests.
As NewsBusters' Scott Whitlock reported Monday, ABC News logged dramatically different reports about the ObamaCare protests on Capitol Hill in March and the virtual riots that happened in Arizona after that state's governor signed a strict anti-illegal immigration law last Friday.
The former was depicted as "very ugly" while the latter, despite the number of riot police and arrests, was described as "mostly peaceful."
With this in mind, Kelly invited liberal talk radio host Mark Levine and conservative talk radio host Mike Gallagher to debate the disparity.
As you might imagine, Levine hysterically saw both reports as being accurate (video follows with commentary):
News outlets across the country have latched on to a survey that suggests TEA party supporters tend to be resentful toward minorities. Newsweek published two different pieces on the same item, while a handful of newspapers also gleefully relayed the findings.
There are just a few problems. First, the survey was conducted by a University of Washington professor bent on proving racism exists against President Obama. Second, his entire sample of white TEA party supporters comprised exactly 117 people. Finally, many of the questions had nothing to do with racial resentment.
But we can't have facts getting in the way of a media narrative.
As soon as the survey was released April 7, news outlets were all over it pushing the survey results as empirical evidence, and many not even pretending to sound neutral on the subject. The leader of the study, Political Science professor Christopher Parker, was not asked about his own political leanings or his apparent pre-occupation with finding racism afoot.
First up to bat was the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, whose blog writer Scott Sunde promoted the survey without question on April 8:
While America's media continue to depict the Tea Party as homophobic, angry racists, they shamefully ignore the REAL hate speech going on in our nation, namely what's being regularly hurled at this movement by its opponents.
Take for example the absolutely shocking voice-mail messages that have been left at the offices of FreedomWorks, a non-profit organization that has supported the Tea Party since its inception.
In response to a video that fired GEICO announcer Lance Baxter aka D.C. Douglas created last week that included messages he received from non-supporters after his termination, the folks at FreedomWorks on Monday published a collection of their own.
This video contains astonishingly vulgar and hateful voice-mail messages left for FreedomWorks employees that likely would be front-page and headline news if this was a liberal organization (video follows with commentary, STRONG vulgarity and content warning, h/t Right Scoop):
That was the takeaway from an April 22 CNBC "Squawk Box" segment in which the network's Washington correspondent John Harwood explained the upside for the Obama administration in taking an aggressive tack on financial regulation and pushing it through Congress.
According to Harwood, public opinion on this issue favors President Barack Obama. He explained that Wall Street is very unpopular and that's causing some Republicans to be willing to compromise with Democrats on the issue.
"He knows that things are rolling his way on this issue," Harwood said. "You had battle lines initially drawn - both parties took to the trenches, started firing heavy ammunition. But the throw weight is with the Democratic side on this. The public wants financial regulation reform. They don't like Wall Street, just as they don't like Washington. So this is a case where Barack Obama, instead of being the target of public anger, can direct some of it somewhere else. That is what causes Republicans at the end to say, ‘OK, it's time to negotiate, get serious about a deal.' And they're going to get some concessions in that bargaining in exchange for their votes. And they will then be able to stand up and say, ‘This bill was headed to be a bailout bill. We stopped the bailout and everybody can hold hands and say they did something good for the country.'"
Last month I noted Newsweek's Liz White's complaint about the term "ObamaCare" being used as shorthand for the Democratic health care legislation. White griped that the term was "ominous-sounding" and favored by the legislation's conservative opponents as reasons why mainstream media outlets should eschew the term.
Now a full 27 days later, White is back at it with her complaint about the term "ObamaCare." This time, she's citing none other than liberal Comedy Central "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart to back her up:
Stewart immediately jumps on O’Hara’s slip, calling him out on using the “derogatory” phrase and firing back by referring to O’Hara’s book as a “tea-bagger book.” O’Hara stammers for a few seconds and tries to defend his word choice, but concedes to calling it the health-reform bill instead. (It’s a law, by the way.)
Last month, I took on this same issue. Should the bill be called Obamacare, or is that phrase, as Stewart puts it, derogatory by nature?
Liberal talk radio host Ed Schultz on Tuesday went absolutely berserk on a Democrat Tea Party member that didn't approve of how President Obama went back on his campaign promise to make healthcare reform hearings open and transparent.
"My reason for being with the Tea Party is is this whole healthcare stuff," said a caller named Jason who claimed to be a Democrat.
"I remember hearing President Obama talking about how it was going to be open and transparent, it was going to be on C-SPAN, we were going to know what's in the bill, and that's just not the way it worked."
This sent Schultz into a hissy fit of epic proportions concluding with him saying, "God, go pick up your gun and march if it makes you feel better because you're too stupid to read" (YouTube audio follows with partial transcript and commentary, h/t Radio Equalizer):
One clue that health care is not being well received among the public: Liberal media members, instead of celebrating the wonderful era of health-care access to come, can't stop obsessing over unsubstantiated allegations of racism among Tea Party activists, as if trying to change the subject.
New York Times columnist Frank Rich's super-sized entry on Sunday, “Welcome to Confederate History Month,” is the latest in the string. The text box is loaded with sarcasm: “The Civil War, like the war against Obama, wasn't about race.”
It's an unusually dumb entry for Rich, but typical in content -- beginning with an utterly irrelevant pop culture reference that's neither fitting nor clever, followed by 1,400 words all but accusing Republicans of racism (Rich prefers odious comparisons to direct accusations he'd have to back up).
At least he seems to be reading his criticism, and reacting hotly. Rich is evidently discussing this column by David Paul Kuhn of Real Clear Politics, which directly refuted Rich's previous column on this same tired subject, in which Kuhn lambasted Rich: “All he has are anecdotes of angry white activists. So he stereotypes. It's like a white person who watches a black criminal on the local news and draws racist generalizations.”
Friday follies. Before the weekend ends, two quotes from journalists worth noting made on Friday night shows:
♦ On MSNBC’s Hardball, NBC’s Chuck Todd forwarded the notion that if Florida Governor Charlie Crist drops out of the Republican primary -- where polls put him way behind conservative Marco Rubio -- and wins the Senate seat as an independent, “he becomes the most powerful Senator in the United States Senate” and “he becomes, probably, the viable third party candidate in the middle in the country” for President in 2012.
♦ A few hours later on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, David Remnick, author of the new book, ‘The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama,' outed the real liberal agenda behind ObamaCare as he predicted that instead of being an “albatross” that will hurt Democrats at the ballot box in November, all those new beneficiaries will be grateful and vote Democratic:
When you add 30 million people to the rolls of getting health care, access to health care, seems to me a huge gain and the potential widening of the base for the Democratic Party among a lot of people who might not necessarily vote before. So, I don't think you're going to see a repeat of 1994 come this fall.
Of course, few of those 30 million will have any better access to health care by this November than they had before the bill passed.
"I think that we're going to have a problem if we want to start talking about founding fathers, the founding documents, what the origins of our country because the mainstream media is not going to like what you have to say, and so I volunteered myself," Breitbart said. "And on day one, I had to contend with the fact that you guys were called ‘teabaggers.' And I had to deal with the fact an unfortunately named sister, by the name of Contessa Brewer on MSNBC, before you even spoke, told you what your grievances were to the country and our dissent his patriotic presidency. This person took a photo and cut off the head of a black man, and asked is the tea party nation - are the people who are protesting Barack Obama racist? The person was black."
Is President Barack Obama really instituting "cradle-to-grave" social policies and transforming the United States into a nanny state? Well, it may not be "womb-to-tomb" yet, but he's certainly creating a welfare state for Americans beyond their mid-20s.
"I think it's more likely to be stuck," Harwood said. "Now, ultimately, the hope for Democrats, and for the president, is the actual experience with the legislation. Forget the sales job, but once elements of that kick in, especially the more popular ones, letting kids stay on their parents' insurance policies until they're 26, and preventing insurance companies from kicking people off when they hit a lifetime max - those kinds of things, they hope, will make, fuel acceptance of this legislation."
On ABC’s This Week, when retired ABC newsman Sam Donaldson recommended that President Barack Obama nominate, to replace Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, someone who “is going to stand up for the principles – on the left, if you will – that he believes in,” Cokie Roberts jumped in: “I’m not so sure he is so far to the left.” Donaldson agreed: “Well, I’m not sure either.”
Minutes later, Roberts contended the efforts of state attorneys general, to get a federal court to rule unconstitutional ObamaCare’s requirement every citizen get health insurance, reminded her of the “nullification” which led to the Civil War:
You have these fourteen states attorneys general saying that they want to have the court overturn the recently passed health care law. I must say, I was just with my grand kids at Fort Sumter, and the notion of nullification made me extremely nervous because it was, of course, the first step toward the Civil War.
NBC's "Saturday Night Live" last evening mocked President Obama, healthcare reform, and the census while strangely adding what some could find a tad anti-Semitic.
Trying to explain why the census isn't "some Socialist plot to spy on the American people," Fred Armisen in what's becoming his signature role walked through the questions being asked of citizens this April.
Following some largely sophomoric and somewhat tasteless sexually oriented items, Armisen moved on to the topic of healthcare.
After that, he asked a question about Jews destined to raise a few eyebrows (video follows with transcribed highlights and commentary):
Linda Douglass, the former ABC News and CBS News Washington correspondent who signed aboard the Obama campaign in May of 2008, is resigning next week from her post as Communications Director for the White House’s Health Reform Office, the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz reported Thursday afternoon on the paper's “44” blog (which I saw plugged on DCRTV.com). Kurtz described her as “a top pitchwoman for President Obama's health care plan.”
Is another media gig in the offing? No word yet. Kurtz quoted her statement, which only said she wants “to step off the treadmill for awhile and rediscover the experience of dining with my husband on a regular basis.”
Douglass, who appeared frequently on MSNBC's The Ed Show to disparage conservative criticism and champion ObamaCare, “said she will be 'cheering with pride from the sidelines as this historic law takes effect,'” Kurtz relayed. And maybe not really making a full break: “Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer says Douglass 'will continue to be a valued adviser to this President and this White House.'”
Commenting on the new health care law, on Wednesday’s Late Show with David Letterman, comedian/actor Chris Rock cracked: “I feel sorry for the people that were against it” since “that's going to be a tough one to explain to your grand kids.”
Rock, on to promote his new movie, Death at a Funeral, barbed that ObamaCare opponents remind him of those against civil rights in the 1960s who years later had to answer, “grand daddy, is this your ‘I Hate Martin Luther King’ hat?”
After harping on unsubstantiated reports of racial epithets hurled at black congressmen during protests against Obama-care, no reporter for the New York Times bothered to cover in print an actual arrest made in the case of an actual death threat against Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, the No. 2 Republican in the House. (The paper made do with an Associated Press brief.)
Yet David Herszenhorn filed a 10-paragraph story Wednesday on news that an arrest was made in regard to death threats against a prominent Democratic senator, Patty Murray of Washington: "Threats to Kill Senator Lead to Arrest." (The print version is slightly condensed from the online version.)
As the Obama-loving media continue their predictable victory lap following the passage of vastly unpopular healthcare reform, a state of mass confusion about how the bill impacts John and Jane Q. Public grips the nation.
"Questions reflecting confusion have flooded insurance companies, doctors' offices, human resources departments and business groups," wrote McClatchy's Margaret Talev Tuesday.
"'They're saying, "Where do we get the free Obama care, and how do I sign up for that?" said Carrie McLean, a licensed agent for eHealthInsurance.com. The California-based company sells coverage from 185 health insurance carriers in 50 states."
And those were just the first surprises from the historically liberal news outlet (h/t NB reader Tom 'Not the Actor' Hanks):
In the New York Times's latest "Political Points" podcast, posted April 1 at nytimes.com, reporters David Herszenhorn and Jeff Zeleny talked to host Sam Roberts about the health care law as a referendum on the Obama presidency. Though the Times didn't bother to identify the reporters by name on the audiocast, it was almost certainly Herszenhorn (confirmed by comparing his voice pattern with that of another voice later identified as Zeleny's, plus by watching a recent clip of Herszenhorn) who immediately injected discredited accusations of racism into the discussion, in response to Roberts's relatively innocuous conversation starter.
Herszenhorn is known at Times Watch as a strong cheerleader for Obama-care.
From the April 1 podcast:
Host Sam Roberts: "David and Jeff, we've been writing that health care became a touchstone, a proxy for larger disagreements and deep divisions in an increasingly fractured society. What is it the surrogate for, do we think?"
Herszenhorn: "Well there's so many things, Sam. One is clearly there's a racial component. Some members of Congress you know, had epithets hurled at them as protesters marched around the Capitol on the day of the big House vote."
Andrew Breitbart at Big Journalism.com has offered a $10,000 reward to anyone with evidence of racial epithets being hurled at members of the Congressional Black Caucus, who made the charge in the first place. So far no takers, despite the Hill being dense with Blackberries, camera phones, and video equipment of all kinds the day of the vote on Obama-care.