Most incredibly, the two reporters either missed or ignored the most inflammatory comments issued on the Senate floor on Sunday, when Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island comparing some Republican opponents of Obama care to Jim Crow-era lynchers, and Nazis: “History cautions us of the excesses to which these malignant, vindictive passions can ultimately lead. Tumbrils have rolled through taunting crowds, broken glass has sparkled in darkened streets. Strange fruit has hung from Southern trees. Even this great institution of government that we share has cowered before a tail-gunner waving secret lists."
From Hulse and Herszenhorn's report, with its emphasis on Republican nastiness:
Nasty charges of bribery. Senators cut off midspeech. Accusations of politics put over patriotism. Talk of double-crosses. A nonagenarian forced to the floor after midnight for multiple procedural votes.
The "nonagenarian" is of course Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia. Hulse and Herszenhorn returned to the sad plight of Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd later.
The Times actually quoted a portion of Whitehouse’s nasty speech chiding the GOP, but without mentioning the odious comparisons to Nazis and Jim Crow racists Whitehouse had made less than four minutes previously:
Appearing Monday on MSNBC during the 10AM ET hour, CNBC White House correspondent John Harwood worked to whip up support for the health care bill passed by Senate Democrats while slamming its liberal opponents: “...so much of the commentary I’ve heard has been really idiotic. Liberals who want universal health care ought to be thanking Harry Reid for getting this thing done...”
Speaking to anchor Contessa Brewer, Harwood told left-wing critics to stop “talking about what’s inadequate in the bill” and said that if they think “that Harry Reid can do better than what he’s done....they ought to lay off the hallucinogenic drugs because we have had a vivid demonstration of the limits of political possibilities on this issue.” Later in the 1PM ET hour Harwood called them “insane” and that they should “have their heads examined.”
Good on the Post for printing this letter from a reader who caught liberal columnist E.J. Dionne in the act of hypocrisy:
E.J. Dionne Jr. ["Democratic fratricide," op-ed, Dec. 17] views the Senate as a "dysfunctional and undemocratic partisan hothouse," presumably because of the ability of 41 senators to prevent a bill from coming to a final vote.
Mr. Dionne has not always taken such a dim view of undemocratic procedures, however.
In 2003, he heartily approved of Democratic obstruction of two judicial nominations by President Bush: "The filibuster is the only way to prevent the president from creating a federal judiciary dominated by ideologues of his own persuasion, appointed to satisfy his political base" ["Order and the Courts," op-ed, May 9].
When it comes to freedom of speech, liberal journalists are the staunchest of defenders, right? Not so much when it comes to blasting Republican senators opposed to ObamaCare for "borderline sedition" that "comes dangerously close to inciting violence."
"The crisis of confidence in this country is now at an apex that has not seen in over 150 years, and that lack of confidence undermines the ability of legitimate governance," he said. "There's a lot of people out there today who...will say, 'I give up on my government,' and rightly so."
Of course, many liberals said similar things about losing faith in their government during the previous administration, one with which Klein had many disagreements, most if not all of which he took to Time's pages or Web site to bluster about. I don't recall any concern from Klein about seditious liberals or Democrats when George Bush or Dick Cheney was the object of harsh rhetoric.
But leave it to a Republican senator to criticize the pork barreling and special exemptions Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has given to fellow Democrats to buy a cloture vote, and it's damn near seditious to Klein:
There was something very important that I did not see on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” this morning.
The very first bump-in on the show was a montage of Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.):
COBURN: What the American people ought to pray, is that somebody can’t make the vote tonight. That’s what they ought to pray.
DURBIN: I don’t think it’s appropriate to be invoking prayer to wish misfortune on a colleague. And I want him to clarify that. I’ve invited him, I’ve tried to reach out to him. He is my friend, and I have worked with him, but this statement goes too far. The simple reality is this: We are becoming more coarse and more divided here [...].
This, of course, is political gamesmanship. But it goes further than that. In the entirety of Morning Joe, I did not note a single mention of the following statement from Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) -- hat tip to Kerry Picket for catching this:
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) told people on Sunday they should pray someone misses Monday morning's crucial healthcare vote, and media members predictably gasped as if he was hoping a Senator would take ill or worse.
Somehow all those hyperventilating missed that there was a major snowstorm over the weekend closing airports and snarling traffic, and that travel impediments might have acted to prevent those not already in the nation's capital from getting there.
Likely with this in mind, Coburn said Sunday, "What the American people ought to pray is that somebody can't make the vote tonight. That's what they ought to pray."
The Washington Post's Dana Milbank gruesomely took issue with this in his piece "An Ugly Finale For Health-care Reform" (video of Coburn's remarks embedded below the fold):
In an interview in which he hit the 2008 Republican presidential nominee repeatedly from the left, George Stephanopoulos pleaded with Sen. John McCain to "name an issue next year where you are going to be joined at the hip with President Obama." [audio available here]
The live interview via satellite occurred six hours after McCain joined the other 39 Senate Republicans in voting against cloture on the Senate version of Democratic health care legislation.
All but two of Stephanopoulos's questions dealt with health care,the other two with Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons.
Transcribed below are Stephanopoulos's agenda of questions, which you'll notice buffet McCain from the left, and/or paint Republicans are the party responsible for keeping the Senate from wrapping up its business until Christmas Eve, even though it is Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) who controls the legislative calendar:
“There's a lot in” the health care bill as it now stands -- even without the “public option” or expanded Medicare -- “that people are going to like” and a “lot of people are going to like a whole lot once they see what's in it,” ABC News veteran Cokie Roberts contended on Sunday's This Week as she blamed Democratic messaging, not the substance, for declining support: “I think the Democrats lost control of the argument – the message – and that's why the polls are as they are.”
If the public just understood all the great things in it, she scolded, they'd realize the Christmas gift they're getting from those Democrats: “It's just a question of understanding it and the Democrats should have been getting that out there more.” As if hey haven't had the news media on their side. Amongst the wonderful benefits: “For he first time” there will be “totally paid-for long term care insurance.” Totally paid for by whom?
Roberts soon praised Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's deal-making and payoffs: “The person that I have really new-found respect for is Harry Reid, who just has this Senate in session relentlessly until they do this.”
A rather shocking thing happened on Sunday's "Meet the Press": host David Gregory complained to Senior White House Advisor David Axelrod that the healthcare reform bill ready to pass the Senate is not what Barack Obama campaigned on last year.
Maybe just as surprising, Gregory showed recent polls to Axelrod reflecting the public's disinterest in this bill.
"I've got a few of the bullet points of campaign promises made," said Gregory. "[T]here would be universal coverage when it came to getting healthcare. He opposed an individual mandate, which, of course, is part of this bill. And he indicated this would be paid for by rolling back Bush tax cuts, tax cuts."
The host then amazingly pointed out the contradictions: "There's not universal coverage here. The individual mandate is in there and, in fact, there are a slew of taxes that are part of this legislation, including on the Cadillac plans that a lot of union members hold" (video in two parts embedded below the fold with transcript):
On Thursday’s Stossel show on Fox Business Network, host John Stossel got to do the kind of show he was not able to do earlier this year when he was at ABC, as he devoted an entire show to the debate over access to health care, and gave attention to the market-based plan utilized by most employees of Whole Foods, which uses health savings accounts and encourages employees to shop around for health care, and to conserve their money for use in future years. Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, who has been the target of attacks from socialized medicine advocates despite the popularity of his company’s program with its employees, was the featured guest on Stossel's show, though he and Stossel at one point did get to debate socialized medicine advocate Russell Mokhiber. When Mokhiber cited the dubious statistic that 45,000 Americans die yearly from lack of health insurance, and contended that "zero Canadians die from lack of health insurance," Mackey charged that in Canada, "They oftentimes die from a lack of health care as they wait for services that are rationed by governmental bureaucrats."
While Stossel argued that too much involvement by a third party like insurance companies or government programs have caused health care prices to increase because consumers shop around less, Stossel and Mackey also charged that government regulations that forbid health insurance companies to compete across state lines, and that require insurance companies to cover procedures in their plans that are not desired by many customers, have helped create the problem of high insurance prices:
Sam Donaldson said Sunday that if the Democrats pass the current version of the Senate's healthcare reform bill, it probably would be a terrible mistake.
Such was surprisingly said during the Roundtable segment of Sunday's "This Week."
After George Will shared polling numbers indicating how few people are actually in favor of what's currently on the table in Congress, Donaldson agreed saying, "[Y]ou're right, if, in fact, the bill that I conceive is going to come out of the conference committee -- and I think will pass -- is in stone, and that is the healthcare bill from here on."
When George Stephanopoulos asked, "Which part is he right about," Donaldson's response elicited a somewhat startled gasp from the host (video embedded below the fold with partial transcript, relevant section at 18:40):
The political advocacy group "Rock the Vote" has a new video out encouraging young people to abstain from having sex with folks opposed to healthcare reform.
Sadly, this isn't your run of the mill call for celebacy, for the video also instructs youth to use sex to get people to change their minds on this issue.
The group's YouTube posting asks: "What would you withhold from someone who opposes health care reform? Cookies, a Christmas gift, sex?"
Pretty racy for an organization whose mission is to "give young people the tools to identify, learn about, and take action on the issues that affect their lives, and leverage their power in the political process" (video embedded below the fold contains excessive vulgarity, h/t Story Balloon):
Will ObamaCare cover memory loss? Howard Dean better hope so. On today's Meet the Press he seemed to suffer a serious memory lapse, claiming he had said he would "vigorously" support Pres. Obama's re-election [H/t reader Melody]. Problem: we have the video of Dean on Morning Joe of December 17th saying just the opposite: that he would "not vigorously" support PBO's 2012 re-election bid.
So noteworthy was Dean's "not vigorously" declaration at the time that it caused a gleeful Joe Scarborough to burst into laughter and repeat it. Not a decibel out of Dean to dispute what Joe had heard. As I reported at the time, here was Dean on December 17th:
ABC's Dr. Tim Johnson, a long-time advocate of government-centered universal health care, again shared his personal view he “absolutely” favors passage of the current ObamaCare bill, though “I would personally prefer to have public option and/or Medicare expansion directly challenging private insurance.” Without irony, about twelve minutes later as he signed off as anchor of his final newscast, Charles Gibson promised he's always tried to deliver an “objective” newscast and lamented “objectivity is not universally in favor in our business these days.”
Approaching Johnson Friday night with liberal complaints the bill has been watered down too much, Gibson related how “the question that I hear most often is, is this bill, without a public option, without an expansion of Medicare, is it better than nothing?” Johnson assured him: “Absolutely, Charlie. We have to remember that doing nothing leaves us with the status quo, a non-system that is headed for financial and health care disaster.”
Later, Gibson asserted in his goodbye comments as he retires from ABC News:
I thank you for investing trust in us each evening, trust that we will give you as objective and honest a look at the day's news as we possibly can. Objectivity is not universally in favor in our business these days, but it is critically important. It is what we strive for each night.
MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan on Friday got into a very heated discussion about healthcare reform with Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) that resulted in the "Morning Meeting" host abruptly ending his interview with her and moving on to another guest.
After Schultz spouted the usual Democrat talking points about the benefits of healthcare reform legislation currently before Congress, Ratigan pointed out that forcing people to buy health insurance without actually increasing the amount of competition in the marketplace is not a sound financial idea:
It basically allows the taxpayer to take the hit to pay for the uninsured, but it does not deal with the underlying symptom as to why there are so many uninsured...[P]art of the problem in this country is that our politicians do not understand that they make laws that create total imbalances.
Despite Ratigan's left-leaning views, the points he made during this segment have been largely ignored by Obama-loving media that have been doing their darnedest to get healthcare reform legislation passed with total disregard for what any of the bills being discussed actually do (video embedded below the fold with rough transcript, h/t Allahpundit):
Centering a Friday night story on how, as anchor Katie Couric explained, “Republicans are doing everything they can to block” the “health reform” bill, “including delaying tactics in this race against the clock,” CBS put front and center Senator Robert Byrd's “shame, shame” admonition of Republicans.
Reporter Nancy Cordes began her story by showcasing the aging Democrat: “As he was wheeled into the Senate chamber shortly after 1:00 AM, 92-year-old Robert Byrd made it clear how he felt about being pulled out of bed to vote.” CBS showed a wide-shot of the Senate chamber with the area around the wheelchair-bound Byrd lightened with his words on screen as viewers heard the matching audio picked up by a nearby microphone: “Shame, shame.”
Cordes elaborated: “His ire was directed at Republicans who intentionally dragged out debate on a defense spending bill, hoping that in turn would hold up the health care bill Democrats desperately want to pass before Christmas.” She soon demanded of Republican Senator Orrin Hatch: “What's the point of forcing these votes to be held at the dead of night on Christmas eve? Why not just move along?”
Bad blood brewing between Ed Schultz and Chris Matthews?
Schultz today invited a guest on his show for the express purpose of taking shots at fellow MSNBCer Matthews!
On yesterday's Hardball, Matthews criticized the netroots who are trashing the watered-down ObamaCare bill. "I don't consider them Democrats," said Matthews, dismissing them as "troublemakers." Concluded Chris: "they get their giggles sitting in the back seat and bitching."
On his show this evening, Schultz invited netroot-in-chief Markos Moulitsas on to fire back at Matthews. Not merely did Schultz offer Kos a platform, he prodded him with leading questions sure to stir up a pointed response. Kos was only too happy to take up the cudgel, accusing Matthews of being "trapped in a bubble," "not learning from his mistakes," and warning that Matthews "has a thing coming."
While Republican Senators work to slow down the full-blast freight train called ObamaCare from being passed before year's end, the media have predictably reported their efforts as partisan stalling.
How helpful for President Obama to have the media on his side. During the Bush administration when the proverbial shoe was on the other foot, Democrats were cast as brave dissenters who united in the fight against Republican agendas.
Back in 2005 when President Bush proposed a plan to reform the near-bankrupt Social Security program, Democrat Senators organized rallies to hold the line against any hint of privatization. The media promoted polling data that showed weak support for the plan and spun the results that favored Bush as a product of Republican propaganda.
On March 15, 2005, the Washington Post published a front-page attack on privatization that worked hard to claim any support was a result of fear-mongering (emphasis mine):
In case you still had any questions about the political leaning of Chris Matthews, he proudly admitted on the air Thursday, "I'm a liberal."
In fact, right from the start of Thursday's "Hardball," the MSNBC host defended liberals claiming, "Most of the elected, the vast majority of the elected liberals, want to go for the gold, grab what victory`s attainable and build on it in the future.You know where I stand."
By the end of the program, it was indeed indisputably obvious where Matthews stands when he actually said with cameras rolling:
You know how you know you are going to win if you pass anything [regarding healthcare reform]? The Republicans will know they have lost...Let them keep score and it`s easy. It`s complicated when liberals get to keep score. We`re always arguing. Well, I`m a liberal, too.
Imagine that (videos embedded below the fold with partial transcripts, h/t Tweep insidepitch):
Friday’s Washington Post offers a highly timely article on its front page: grass-roots liberal anger at southern Democrats who voted against health "reform." But the Post hints at its own anger between the lines. The caption under its photo on page A-22 reads: "Rep. Larry Kissell (D-NC) voted against health-care reform even though it is badly needed in the largely rural district he represents."
The front-page headline was "Democrat's vote on health bill leaves backers feeling betrayed." It could have been titled "Kissing Off Kissell." Liberals now want him ousted.
Reporter Philip Rucker asserted Kissell upset incumbent Republican Robin Hayes by 11 points as he "ran on a promise to bring a progressive everyman's sensibility to Congress." The caption writer may have echoed Rucker's rhetoric on the "need" for nationalizing the health-care system in North Carolina:
Last June, as Newsbusters readers will remember, ABC allowed President Obama to pitch his health care proposal in a special edition of ABC's Primetime hosted by retiring World News anchor Charlie Gibson and (now incoming anchor) Diane Sawyer. Obama was given additional airtime to pitch his health care agenda that evening on Nightline.
Conservatives didn't get equal time.
Worse, ABC News even refused to allow the conservative group Conservatives for Patients Rights to purchase paid advertising to put out an alternative perspective.
Immediately afterward, the National Center for Public Policy Research (full disclosure: which I work for) began a multi-month review of the commercials run on World News. We found something interesting.
Chris Matthews asked a New York Congressman Thursday if we should "change the Constitution to make the Senate a more democratic body."
At issue of course was the difficulty Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is having getting 60 Democrats to sign on to any version of a healthcare reform bill.
Clearly getting frustrated by this, Matthews on Thursday's "Hardball" asked Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) an amazingly absurd question for someone that's reported on politics for several decades (video embedded below the fold with partial transcript, relevant section at 3:40, h/t Story Balloon):
Today, it sounds like the president has finally reached that point with the Senate Democrats and their increasingly aggravating health-care squabbles. He's ready to issue a steely "Enough." And not a minute too soon.
Not a minute too soon? Isn't Connolly supposed to be an objective reporter, not a cheerleader for a political party and its agenda? Oh, that's right, this is Newsweek, the magazine whose editor actually aspires to a smaller (and more liberal?) audience.
What’s on the mind of media types this Christmas season? Obama’s “great” speeches and the “atrocity” of Sarah Palin and Sen. Joe Lieberman, says New York Times columnist David Brooks, an Obama supporter and Palin-basher whose neo-liberal outlook nevertheless places him at the right end of the paper's cavalcade of liberal opinion writers.
In his weekly Wednesday “Opinionator” exchange with fellow columnist Gail Collins at nytimes.com, Brooks provided a peek into a typical media Christmas, that is, “holiday” party:
He began with self-mockery:
Brooks: Tis the season for holiday parties, which means I’m spending a lot of time with the Beltway establishment. Let me tell you, you people who live outside the beltway are completely out of touch. We in the D.C. establishment are a wonderful group of really smart and intelligent people and if you guys don’t let us micromanage your affairs, you don’t deserve the happiness and wealth we could provide.
Collins responded with some sarcasm of her own from a liberal viewpoint:
It's often said markets function better when there is gridlock in Washington, D.C. because there's less of a chance for government will interfere in the private sector, creating a sense of security. But in this day and time, that theory applies to the U.S. dollar as well.
On CNBC's Dec. 17 "Squawk Box," CNBC Chicago Mercantile Exchange reporter Rick Santelli debated what was causing the recent rise in the U.S. dollar. Santelli, the original inspiration for the tea party movement, squared off with Jim Iuorio, CNBC "OptionsAction" regular and CME trader, about the cause - a weakened European economy or the place in the calendar year.
"So Rick, is the bigger deal right now on the dollar move - the risk-aversion trade because of the end of the year or because of the problems in Europe?" Iuorio said. "Or is it a combination of both? Which is the bigger thing, do you think?"
At the top of Thursday’s CBS Early Show, correspondent Nancy Cordes excitedly proclaimed that Senate Democrats “are tantalizingly close” to passing a health care bill and derided Republicans for trying to “thwart” the legislation using “stall tactics.”
Cordes reported on the urgency of Democratic efforts to get 60 votes in the Senate: “Leaders are trying to craft a compromise that everyone can live with and soon...to pass a bill by the holidays, they must file the bill by this Saturday.” She lamented that “...they could get thwarted by Republican stall tactics....[who] suddenly demanded that clerks read a 767 page health care amendment out loud on the Senate floor.”
After explaining that “Senate business got tied up for three hours,” Cordes declared: “Democrats were predictably outraged.” She concluded her report: “And that’s the kind of stunt that Republicans would happily pull again if it will slow down the Democrats’ goal of getting this bill passed.”
Yesterday, Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs took shots at Howard Dean and his opposition to ObamaCare, suggesting the good doctor didn't know what he was talking about.
It was payback time this morning, as Dean announced that he would "not vigorously" back Pres. Obama's re-election bid.
The former DNC Chairman expressed his tepid support for Obama, Part Deux on today's Morning Joe in response to new poll data indicating Pres. Obama's popularity, and public support for ObamaCare, have fallen to all-time lows.
Joe Scarborough suggested that Dean would be accused of dragging down his party and helping Republicans.