The Obama administration has given a fresh explanation to justify its secret deal with the Taliban to exchange five Guantanamo Bay detainees for Bowe Bergdahl: the radical Islamists who held the Army sergeant would execute him if the terms of the exchange were made public before the handover was carried out.
Yet among the Big Three network evening newscasts tonight covering developments in the prisoner-swap saga, only NBC's Nightly News hammered home the point that the Obama White House's story has significantly changed and that without a sufficient explanation from White House aides. What's more, only NBC's Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski pointed out that the administration did give a heads up to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) prior to the deal going down -- which, logic dictates, unnecessarily risked a leak which could have endangered Sgt. Bergdahl's life [Listen to MP3 audio montage here; Video follows page break]:
In the midst of the VA scandal and the Bergdahl saga, two unfavorable Wednesday stories about Obamacare are garnering relatively little attention.
One appeared at the Associated Press ("NOW APPLICATION 'INCONSISTENCIES' VEX HEALTH LAW"), and reprised something the Washington Post brought out 2-1/2 weeks ago (covered here at NewsBusters) about how "at least 2 million" Obamacare enrollment applications have "data discrepancies" holding up their full processing. The other far more troubling story appeared at Roll Call. It dealt with a separate mountain of unprocessed paperwork in Medicaid. In her reporting, the DC publication's Rebecca Adams revealed how twisted and potentially dangerous the Obamacare-related political motivations are on the left, where pretending that everything is fine is clearly more important than acknowledging and quickly fixing serious – perhaps even deadly serious — problems (bolds are mine):
It's the latest viral video burning up the Internet, the talk of watercooler conversation all over the country today: President Obama looking positively goofy strenuously working out with a set of dumbbells. [I'll pause to let you write your own punchline]
It was video too good to ignore for both ABC's World News and CBS's Evening News, while NBC Nightly News decided to take a pass. Of course, both networks worked in a relatively positive spin for the president, with ABC worrying about and subsequently dismissing the notion of the video being a "security breach" while CBS's Maurice DuBois hailed the president as an disciplined athlete who sleepily hit the gym while on a grueling overseas trip. [See the relevant transcripts below the page break; Listen to MP3 audio here; Video follows page break]
For evidence that no one looking for objective reporting should seriously consider reading output from the Politico, look no further than the 5,900-word puff piece propagated by Carrie Budoff Brown and Jennifer Epstein on Sunday.
Their "Special Report: The Obama Paradox" told readers what that President Obama supposedly "recognizes that he is less in control of the Washington agenda than ever in his presidency — a reality that has left him deeply frustrated at times." Meanwhile, the EPA is going wild with carbon regs in the name of the "climate change" hoax, federal regulators are harassing banks and their customers who operating legal businesses in Operation Choke Point, and immigration policy has been unilaterally hijacked. And in a final irony, as the Politico pair were putting their handiwork to bed, Obama was conducting a prisoner swap — one soldier whose loyalties are questionable for five hardened terrorists — while violating a law requiring him to notify Congress of what he was going. "Less in control" my foot. Instead, we are seeing ever-expanding usurpation of authority by Obama and his executive branch.
It's not scientific, of course, but a reader poll at the bottom of an MSNBC.com piece headlined "Is Bowe Bergdahl the GOP’s new Benghazi?" seems to indicate that not even fans of the Lean Forward network are falling for the network's absurd pro-Obama spin on the prisoner swap.
By a nearly 2-to-1 margin (65 percent), readers answered "no" to the poll question, "Do you support Obama’s decision to release 5 Taliban prisoners in exchange for Bergdahl?" You can see thescreen capture taken at 9:09 p.m. Eastern below the page break
On his June 3 Hardball program, MSNBC's Chris Matthews expressed his disapproval of the president having broken federal law in the process of securing Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's release in exchange for transferring five high-level Taliban detainees from Guantanamo Bay to Qatari government custody.
Of course, it took a liberal Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) complaining about the matter to register with Matthews as a problem for the president, but all the same, the Hardball host seemed angry that President Obama violated a law which he signed into effect. The relevant transcript appears below the page break [emphasis mine; Listen to the MP3 audio here or watch the video below the page break]:
In order to press through with the five-for-one POW exchange to return Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, "the White House overrode an existing interagency process charged with debating the transfer of Guantanamo Bay prisoners and dismissed long-standing Pentagon and intelligence community concerns based on Top Secret intelligence about the dangers of releasing" the five high-level Taliban detainees, Time magazine's Massimo Calabresi reported this afternoon at Time.com.
Indeed, "Obama’s move was an ultimate victory for those at the White House and the State Department who had previously argued the military should 'suck it up and salute,' says the official familiar with the debate," Calabresi reported. Appropriately, Time editors ripped that "suck it up and salute" line and made it the teaser headline on the Time.com front page [see screen capture below page break]. Aside from delving into the internal debate in the intelligence community and the administration over the release, Calabresi also reported how Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was given a heads up, even as it seems everyone else in Congress on both sides of the aisle were kept in the dark [emphasis mine]:
In a report at CNBC on Thursday, Dan Mangan covered a "Kaiser Health Tracking Poll" which appears to have been pre-cooked for an administration which would love to have the press give Obamacare even less than the disproportionately low coverage that it has received since a few weeks after HealthCare.gov's diastrous initial rollout.
Mangan eagerly took the bait. His opening sentence: "And the winner by a nose is...shut up about Obamacare!" Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine):
When you’ve lost Chris Matthews, have you lost liberal America? The Hardball host stopped by for a visit on the May 30 edition of MSNBC’s NewsNation for an analysis of the resignation of VA Secretary Shinseki and the VA scandal overall.
The former Tip O’Neill staffer didn’t hold back, repeatedly hitting Obama and Shinseki for a lack of alertness regarding the scandal. Matthews was aghast at the utter lack of awareness the president has shown–not just on the VA –but on his signature legislative achievement, ObamaCare. He even insinuated that a lack of cognizance was a part of the president’s habitual behavior, proclaiming [audio here; video below]:
A group of prominent journalists -- including former Washington Post executive editor Len Downie -- met yesterday with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder but walked away from the meeting disappointed that the Obama administration's top cop won't amend vague Justice Department guidelines which, they argue, make it far too easy for the administration to hound a reporter with the threat of criminal prosecution for protecting his or her sources in a leak investigation.
Yet in covering the story, Post editors shoved Paul Farhi's reporting on the matter to the front page of Style, rather than the A-section, and slapped on a yawn-inducing headline guaranteed to entice only the wonkiest of readers: "Media group, Holder meet on leak cases." "U.S. rules on warrants and subpoenas targeting reporters are challenged," noted the subheader. According to Farhi, the group of journalists want to see DOJ policy amended so that the attorney general must personally get involved in a subpoena request for a journalist's records (emphasis mine):
The Associated Press's Charles Babington went so far over the top in his Monday morning dispatch on Republicans, the Obama administration's scandals, and the fall electoral landscape that it's hard to know where to begin.
The fingerprints of Obama administration operatives appear to be all over Babington's report, both in what's included and what's left out. Most notoriously, there is no mention whatsoever of the Veterans Administration scandal. Ah, but there's a specific reference to Democrats who complain that the Benghazi and IRS scandals have been "fading from national headlines" except at the specifically named Fox News. Excerpts from Babington's babbling follow the jump (bolds are mine):
With about 4-1/2 months remaining before early voting begins in the the 2014 elections, three sets of Obamacare-related campaigns are in full gear. The first is seen in electoral contests around the country. The second is a campaign of disinformation and no information being conducted by the Obama administration and its Department of Health and Human Services. The third is a concerted establishment press effort to give cover to Democratic Party candidates no matter what position they take on Obamacare, and to minimize the exposure the administration's deliberate acts of non-transparency receive.
All three campaigns came together in a Monday morning Associated Press report by Bill Barrow and Josh "Lapdog" Lederman. The two reporters avoided any mention of the fact that the administration has decided to "halt" monthly Obamacare enrollment reporting, while giving cover to Democratic Senate candidates around the country who haven't yet figured out how much distance to put between themselves, Obamacare, and President Barack Obama himself (bolds are mine throughout this post):
The press continues its disinterested fiddling while the royal mess known as Obamacare burns through money and exhausts the patience of those attempting any kind of oversight.
One of the more obvious examples of this is how the Washington Post's May 17 story on errors in calculating Obamacare subsidies has gone absolutely nowhere. About one-third of the 20 results returned in a Google News search on "healthcare subsidies" (not in quotes) at 11 p.m. ET Friday evening were partial reprints or rewrites of the original story by WaPo reporters Amy Goldstein and Sandhya Somashekhar. Most of the remaining results were from center-right outlets, while a few came from medical sites. The results didn't change much when searching on "health care" instead of "healthcare." What the WaPo pair reported is a breathtaking cacophony of incompetence which, as Heritage noted last year, won't even "solve" itself when Obamacare enrollees file their 2014 tax returns. Goldstein and Somashekhar also missed an opportunity to make a fundamental point, which is that everyone who has enrolled has some exposure.
PORTSTEWART, Northern Ireland -- President Obama Wednesday replayed a familiar scenario when dealing with scandal, in this case delays for treatment, deaths, alleged cover-ups and other acts of malfeasance reported at Veterans Administration hospitals in the United States: first express outrage, next announce an investigation and then say he won't comment on the scandal until the results of the investigation are in, promising people will be held "accountable," if they violated the law. Good luck with that.
Meanwhile, critics are using the VA scandal to indict Obamacare. They believe what is occurring at VA hospitals is a preview of coming destruction should the U.S. government move beyond meddling in health insurance into a full-scale takeover of the entire health care system.
These critics need only look across the Atlantic at the United Kingdom's crumbling National Health Service (NHS) as a glaring example of the dysfunction that results when government runs health care. For years, as is the case with VA hospitals, NHS horror stories have abounded, reported dutifully by the British press. These include neglect of elderly patients, long waiting times (like the VA) to see a doctor and longer waits for necessary surgery, which the government in some cases denies based on cost, age of patient and unusually high numbers of deaths at some hospitals.
The VA could learn from what occurred at Hinchingbrooke hospital in Cambridgeshire, England. As reported by the Daily Mail, as recently as two years ago, Hinchingbrooke had a deficit of $16.8 million a year; it ranked 102nd in the country in admission waiting time; charged $67 to park, with fines for overstaying, and in what sounds like the punch line to a joke, took one week to change a light bulb.
Today, the hospital is due to break even. A surplus is expected next year. Hinchingbrooke has zoomed up in ranking to number 20 in the country in waiting time. Parking now costs $4.21 with fines scrapped. Minor maintenance problems are dealt with in one day.
How was Hinchingbrooke, an NHS hospital, miraculously transformed? It was turned over to a private firm. Once described as a "basket case," the hospital is now ranked number one in patient satisfaction.
A key to its healing, reports The Daily Mail, was "loosening the grip of managers and accountants." A majority of board members, once bean counters and bureaucrats, are now clinicians. "Doctors, nurses and admin(istrative) staff have also been put into small groups which have representatives who meet senior managers twice a month" to discuss problems. Patients are promised any complaints will be resolved within three weeks.
The Hinchingbrooke example should teach the VA something about privatization and what can happen when government tries to run a nation's entire health care system. Veterans who face long waits, or suffer from life-threatening conditions, should receive vouchers so they can be treated at private hospitals. Since, according to the White House, President Obama only "learned about" the VA scandal from TV news reports (though he spoke about them during the 2008 presidential campaign and was critical of President Bush for not fixing them), Congress must take the lead in offering treatment alternatives to veterans. Again, lack of money isn't the problem. Bureaucracy and incompetence are the problems.
Reforming VA hospitals should be a 2016 campaign theme all presidential candidates must address and they must then offer specific solutions. A quasi-government-private approach might work. It couldn't be worse than the current system.
The phrase uttered by President Abraham Lincoln, which is the motto of the Veterans Administration, must always be uppermost in our minds: "To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan."
Sadly, that goal is not being met. It must be. We owe veterans (and those we memorialize next Monday) our freedom. Perhaps what happened at Hinchingbrooke Hospital can guide the VA and veterans to a better future.
The Washington Post's Jenna Johnson reported yet another black mark against Maryland's rollout of ObamaCare. It seems the "board that oversees Maryland's troubled health insurance marketplace repeatedly violated a state law that requires such groups to fully explain their reasons for meeting behind closed doors" according to a ruling issued Tuesday by the Maryland Open Meetings Compliance Board.
During the Obama administration, the Associated Press has annually gone through the motions of noting its lack of transparency in responding to Freedom of Information Act requests. In March, its coverage of 2013 FOIA results led with the following sentence: "The Obama administration more often than ever censored government files or outright denied access to them last year under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, according to a new analysis of federal data." Then everyone went back to work defending the administration against the information seekers.
Part of that defense includes mischaracterizing the legal hurdles those who file FOIA requests must overcome to get the administration to do what it is legally required to do right off the bat. Three sentences from recent coverage of Judicial Watch's attempts to pry information out of the State Department will make my point.
"Faith first, government second for GOP candidate," blares a teaser headline on MSNBC.com. They say that like it's a bad thing.
Of course, to MSNBC it is, when religious freedom objections stand opposed to ObamaCare, so MSNBC.com writer Morgan Whitaker sought to explain to Lean Forward partisans all the ways that Ben Sasse is supposedly a danger to civil society, including a ludicrous suggestion that his views could allow for establishment of Sharia law (excerpt below; emphasis mine):
The government is paying private contractor Serco $1.2 billion over five years — and likely more, as will be seen later — to process paper Obamacare applications. In turn, according to a report by television station KMOV, Serco has hired and continues to pay a reported 1,800 workers who have virtually no work to do.
Massive waste like this should develop into a national story and create a journalistic swarm. If it does, it will be unusual, because the press has been avoiding stories which make President Barack Obama's "signature accomplishment" of state-controlled health care look bad like the plague. We'll see if it's different this time. The KMOV report follows the jump (HT Gateway Pundit's Progressives Today blog):
The USA Today-Pew Research Center poll conducted April 23-27, found strong frustration by respondents with President Obama and Democrats, with 65 percent of Americans "want[ing] the president elected in 2016 to pursue different policies and programs than the Obama administration." What's more, "registered voters are inclined to support the Republican candidate over the Democrat in their congressional district by 47%-43%. Yes, "[t]hat edge may seem small," Page and Breitman conceded, but (emphasis mine):
"The Vatican canonized two new saints last week. And President Obama was disappointed to learn he wasn't one of them."
Other liberals who didn't have a prayer of avoiding Jodi Miller's acerbic wit this week include Jon Stewart, Bill Clinton, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). To watch the May 2 edition of NewsBusted, click play on the embed below the page break. To get NewsBusted delivered to your email inbox, click here. To subscribe to NewsBusted on YouTube visit here.
Much like their English-language counterparts, the flagship evening news programs of the Univision and Telemundo television networks found plenty of time to cover the scandal over racism that rocked Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, but no time to devote to news developments which cast President Obama and his administration in a negative light.
Over the course of four days between April 28 and May 1, Noticiero Univision and Noticiero Telemundo dedicated 16 minutes and 33 seconds of airtime to Donald Sterling and the future of the Los Angeles basketball franchise, but evidently didn’t consider the President’s worse-ever popularity poll numbers, the sharp decline in U.S. economic growth, Secretary of State John Kerry’s ill-considered remarks against Israel or fresh, incriminating White House emails twisting the facts about the attack against the U.S. consulate in Benghazi to be worth even a single second of news coverage.
The May-June edition of Politico magazine is out, complete with what it boasts is "the most comprehensive survey yet of [the] unique group of journalists" who comprise the White House press corps. The picture painted by the honest answers therein are not altogether flattering. For instance, we see just how much a self-congratulatory, conventional wisdom-spewing echo-chamber the group is with these two questions (see screen captures below the fold):
The supposed newspaper of record for the nation's capital did not find fit to print a story this morning on the newly-released White House Benghazi emails and the White House's fevered attempt to dismiss the story.
When several members of Congress set out in the early 1990s to improve fiscal reporting and internal controls in the federal government, one thing they certainly had a right to expect is that the press would report on lapses as embarrassments, and that otherwise nonchalant or reluctant bureaucrats would figure out that it would be in their best interest to tighten their ships. It hasn't happened, largely because the press quickly got bored, enabling the bureaucrats to thumb their noses at those who called them out for weak reporting or control violations.
To name just one glaring example: Concerning the Internal Revenue Service, in August of last year, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration happily reported "the downgrade of the information security material weakness to a significant deficiency during the Fiscal Year 2012 financial statement audit," and that "the IRS removed it from the December 31, 2012, remediation plan" (that's bureaucratese for "finally solved the problem") — 19 years after it was first identified in 1993. In that context, let's look at an outrageous situation at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
You know things are bad when you can't wait for the return of a TV character to demonstrate what resolve and leadership really look like. Yes, after a four-year hiatus, the show "24," featuring Jack Bauer (played by Kiefer Sutherland), returns May 5 to the Fox network.
Bauer displays many of the traits once found in, or at least expected of, American presidents and top military leaders. He doesn't waffle or wiggle; neither does he negotiate. He wins. If you think I am about to draw a contrast between Bauer and the current president of the United States you are right.
If there's a prize for most words spent in Obamacare avoidance, NBC News's Martha C. White is definitely in the running.
White managed to burn through almost 40 paragraphs and nearly 1,600 words in a report carried at CNBC on the all-time record number of workers employed by temporary help services. But she somehow managed to completely avoid mentioning Obamacare, which used to be known as the Affordable Care Act until President Obama and his Health and Human Services regulators made 40 changes to the law originally passed by Congress, some of which directly contradict the original law's language. The closest she came was noting that using temps "lets companies avoid the cost of providing benefits like health insurance" — which has always been the case, except that health insurance is and will continue to be a lot more expensive, giving companies even more incentive to avoid adding to their own payrolls. Excerpts follow the jump.
Apart from gutting America's military, our standing in the world, our fiscal stability, the economy, the office of the presidency, conventional energy sources, the free market and religious liberty, Obama has little to boast about other than Obamacare, so let him go for it.
Yes, let him gloat, because the more he bloviates in defense of the indefensible — the more he spins the unspinnable — the more damage he'll do to the cause he's trying to promote: the election of Democratic congressmen in November.