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