Network reporters swooned over President Barack Obama hugging a woman, who has cancer and lacks insurance, at his Wednesday “town hall” on health care, as both CNN -- where Suzanne Malveaux heralded the hug as “a bold display of presidential concern” -- and NBC failed to point out how all the questions (just seven in total) were pre-selected or from members of pro-Obama groups. Instead, NBC's Savannah Guthrie showed a kid in a video (“My mommy and daddy have small businesses, and we need health care”) before she touted how Obama “solicited questions on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and in person, with a hug for a woman who says she cannot pay her medical bills,” while CNN's Ed Henry related “he fielded questions from YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and a live audience.”
CBS's Katie Couric showcased “an emotional moment” when “a 53-year-old cancer patient described her battle to get treatment she can afford.” Couric relayed how Obama “called her exhibit A in a system that's too expensive and too complicated,” but at least, unlike NBC and CNN, Couric noted the woman “is a volunteer for Mr. Obama's political operation Organizing for America” and “the White House invited her to attend.”
Filling-in as anchor on CNN's The Situation Room, Suzanne Malveaux painted Obama as a combination of General Patton and Oprah as she set up Henry in the 6 PM EDT hour:
President Obama has a message for some critics. He will get his way. Today he made a bold promise regarding health care reform. And, in a bold display of presidential concern, the President comforted a sick and emotional woman.
For the Matador Media, One Side Fits All As the media walk hand-in-hand with the Left towards their fantasy-addled government medicine Utopia, they routinely forget that there is another perspective out there as to whether or not the government should commandeer the nation's private health care system. A perspective on which they, had they not already chosen sides on the issue, would (and should) be reporting.
The most recent high-water mark in media health care bias was last Wednesday, when ABC broadcast on four separate occasions from the White House during what they said was a day of their "moderating" a health care "conversation" with President Barack Obama. Good Morning America, World News and Nightline all satellite-beamed their video images from within the confines of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
And all of that was in addition to a one hour prime time special entitled Questions for the President: Prescription for America. During which the queries posed to Obama were for the most part fairly difficult, but given the home-field advantage format he was able to deviate from the intent of each question as much as he wanted, filibuster as long as he wished and in every instance had the last word on each issue.
This all-day Obama domination of the "conversation" ABC was claiming to "moderate" inspired in us a notion. After all, one doesn't "moderate" a "conversation." What IS moderated - and what is certainly called for on something as important as the decision whether to allow the government to shanghai nearly 20% of the private sector (and arguably it's most important portion) - is a DEBATE. And ABC wasn't having one.
So we decided to offer up the other side of the deliberation in which ABC - and the media as a whole - aren't engaging. Working with Americans for Tax Reform and the Health Care Freedom Coalition, we put together a rock star panel of legislators and health care experts to put forward free market-based health care reforms. And to identify the myriad problems with and debunk the many myths and canards about government medicine - which the Left repeatedly offer up and the Matador Media let go by them with barely a wave of the cape.
In the midst of pretty balanced ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscast stories on the Ricci reverse discrimination case involving New Haven firefighters, who were victorious, one quibble: CBS's Wyatt Andrews framed the ruling as issued by the Supreme Court's “conservative” justices and opposed not by liberals but by “civil rights leaders,” as if the majority of justices who ruled against the racial discrimination were not advancing civil rights.
Andrews announced that “in a close 5 to 4 decision, the court's swing vote, Anthony Kennedy, sided with conservatives,” before he set up a soundbite from a representative of the NAACP: “Civil rights leaders also predicted an era of confusion over when minorities are protected and when they are not.” The NAACP's John Payton declared: “I think it hurts the cause of having a discrimination-free workplace.”
Neither ABC's Jan Crawford Greenburg nor NBC's Pete Williams applied a conservative or liberal label.
Barack Obama’s energy czar appeared on Fox & Friends this morning to discuss the cap-and-tax bill passed by the House last week on a razor-thin margin. Carol Browner got stumped by Fox’s Steve Doocy while questioning her ability to speak to the subject, which prompted her to declare Doocy “unfair” for blindsiding her. You be the judge — should Doocy have wondered whether Browner had bothered to read the bill she was promoting on national TV, or is that “unfair”?
NPR's Nina Totenberg scolded the more adversarial approach some in the White House press corps took to President Obama during Tuesday's press conference, but on Inside Washington this weekend columnist Charles Krauthammer rejected the notion the media's honeymoon is “over,” as he cracked:
The hot sex is over, they're in the cigarette stage right now. You get a question or two that's slightly obstreperous, but the adulatory coverage is still all wall-to-wall.
That's a comedic improvement over what he offered Tuesday night on FNC when he suggested “it looked as if the stupor that the press has been in for the last six months is lifting slightly,” before he quipped: “I say that as a psychiatrist who has a lot of experience in watching these things.”
"ABC News has more than earned the title of the All Barack Channel, they have recklessly fought to achieve it," Media Research Center President Brent Bozell stated in a press release today.
The network had promised to deliver a health care presentation that would "not be ‘slanted' in any way - much less a ‘day-long infomercial' or ‘in-kind free advertising'," but not a single expert was offered to counter President Obama's plan to nationalize the nation's health care industry.
Instead, ABC News "balanced" itself this morning by having Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on today's "Good Morning America" to discuss his health care ideas - for a 3 minute 5 second segment. Ryan got less than 2 minutes (1 minute, 47 seconds) to respond to questions. Obama received 25 times that much time last night.
Hours before ABC's Wednesday prime time special with President Obama from the White House, Questions for the President: Prescription for America, a World News piece conveyed the public's doubts that Obama will achieve his goals, but also endorsed Obama's premise that something must be done as reporter David Wright focused on concern over rising costs and a family without insurance before concluding: “Expectations are low, but the need is obvious.”
From Lynchburg, Virginia, Wright reported how “some folks here clearly have their doubts President Obama is going to be able to fix the health care system” as “some worry about big government programs, others that they'll pay higher taxes in the end.” But, he stressed, “Democrats and Republicans alike here told us they hope he can fix it because something needs to be done. Kimberly Gambiladi (sp?) is a stay at home mom. Her husband got laid off two months ago. Now the whole family has no insurance.”
Wright moved on to “a civil engineering firm with 85 employees” where “business has dropped off during the recession. But health premiums haven't.” After the stay at home mom with no insurance admitted “I don't have the answer. Hopefully, somebody will,” Wright delivered his closing line: “Expectations are low, but the need is obvious.”
On Capitol Hill today, the Media Research Center along with Americans for Tax Reform and the Health Care Freedom Coalition sponsored an event showcasing Sen. Jim DeMint, Rep. Tom Price and key health care experts who discussed the alternatives to and the pitfalls of President Obama's health care proposal.
Sen. DeMint explained what he would have said if he had been invited by ABC to participate in this evening's health care special:
ABC's Diane Sawyer on Wednesday hit Barack Obama with some refreshingly tough questions about his plans for health care reform, quizzing the President on potential rationing, reduction of services and whether Americans would really be able to keep their current plan. However, the program also devoted 13 minutes and two segments to Obama, neither of which featured any Republican opposition.
Sawyer, who reported live from the White House and will be co-hosting ABC's June 24 primetime special on health care, focused on a possible reduction of benefits as a result of government-run health care. After an ABC graphic appeared onscreen asserting that eight in ten Americans worry about such a result, Sawyer queried, "They're very concerned that there's going to be a reduction in treatment at some place in all of this. Will [your plan] have the weight of law? Will it have the weight of regulation?"
The GMA host brought up Obama's often-repeated pledge that Americans who like their current health plan will not have to change. However, she observed, "...I thought today [June 23] in the press conference, I heard you amend it to say, if your employer decides to change it, we don't have control over that." Obama justified, "Well, but, of course- that's the case whether we pass health care or not. I can't pass a law that says, 'I'm sorry, employers, you can never make changes to the health care plans you provide your employees.'"
CBS, of all news outlets, is setting a high standard for ABC to meet Wednesday in its broadcasts from the White House. On Tuesday night, just a week after a “Reality Check” on how President Obama's claim that his government-expansion health care plan won't hike the deficit doesn't match reality, the CBS Evening News aired a story on how his plan would likely force many to lose their current health insurance and/or doctor.
Katie Couric noted “72 percent of Americans say they favor a government plan that would compete with private insurers,” but “at the same time, nearly two-thirds are concerned that would reduce the quality of their own health care. And some experts believe they're right to be worried.”
Sharyl Attkisson featured the Cato Institute's Michael Cannon, who explained: “Employer premiums will go up and employers might respond by dropping coverage entirely. So if you're one of those unfortunate workers, then it will be a government policy that ousted you from your health plan.” Attkisson added: “And if you do choose a public plan, you may want to keep your favorite doctors, but they may not want to keep you. Under government health care, they could be paid 20 to 30 percent less.” Attkisson pointed out how “Obama also scoffed at claims that a public plan would put private insurers out of business,” but she countered: “The answer, say critics, is that the government has many tools to get an unfair advantage and undercut private companies.”
Columnist Charles Krauthammer noted on FNC's Special Report that while “there wasn't exactly aggressiveness on the part of the press with a couple of exceptions” during the afternoon presidential press conference, “it looked as if the stupor that the press has been in for the last six months is lifting slightly.” Krauthammer quipped: “I say that as a psychiatrist who has a lot of experience in watching these things.”
Earlier in the program, Brit Hume declared “the head over heals phase of the honeymoon with the press is over” and he speculated: “I think the reporters down there were tired of being criticized for being soft on Obama.”
CNN anchor Campbell Brown used a proponent’s own talking point about President Obama’s planned health care socialization as she pressed a doctor over his skepticism of the project during her program on Monday: “There’s plenty of evidence...that...two-thirds of all bankruptcies in this country [are] due to people’s medical bills. It’s clear the current system isn’t working, so why not be open to trying this?”
Brown hosted Dr. Jorge Rodriguez, a supporter of the president’s plan, and Dr. Eric Novack, a senior fellow for the conservative Americans for Prosperity, for her regular “Great Debate” segment. After an opening statement from the two doctors on the health care issue, the anchor asked Dr. Rodriguez, “What do you say to critics who charge what we’re talking about, what we’re debating is really socialized medicine- that people envision hours of waiting to get into- you know, to get to see a doctor, the rationing of our health care?”
As Media Research Center VP for Research and Publications Brent Baker reported two days ago, the roundtable for ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday took up the media’s favoritism toward President Obama. Host George Stephanopoulos marveled at “how obsessed the President and the White House are with Fox News,” prompting columnist George Will to observe that’s because “it’s the discordant note in an otherwise harmonious chorus.”
On Monday's The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly asked FNC senior political analyst Brit Hume if "Obama is handling the dissent that he finds at Fox any differently than other presidents handle dissent?" Hume responded by acknowledging that:
During the June 23 White House press conference, ABC News reporter Jake Tapper sparred with Barack Obama over the details of the President's universal health care plan, bluntly observing, "...If the government is offering a cheaper health care plan, then lots of employers will want to have their employees covered by that cheaper plan, which will not have to be for-profit, unlike private plans."
Although there was laughter in the press conference, the exchanges became pointed. At one point, Tapper sarcastically observed that he appreciated Obama's "Spock-like language about the logic of the health care plan." Tapper's question, about whether the so-called "public choice" option would actually allow employees to keep the current insurance plans they have now, was a follow-up to a similar one offered by USA Today's David Jackson. After the President failed to answer that query, Tapper began by challenging, "I wonder if you could actually answer David's? Is the public plan non- negotiable?" A testy Obama retorted, "All right, if that's your question."
During an interview with President Obama, Harry Smith asked about recent criticism by Dick Cheney and President Bush: "Leon Panetta intimated that the former Vice President was playing politics with national security issues. The former President has intoned his own displeasure with some of your policy changes. I think they feel like some of the things that you've done, in fact, are treacherous."
Smith failed to provide any direct quote of Panetta’s comments, made during an interview for The New Yorker, in which the CIA director declared: "I think he smells some blood in the water on the national-security issue...It’s almost, a little bit, gallows politics. When you read behind it, it’s almost as if he’s wishing that this country would be attacked again, in order to make his point. I think that’s dangerous politics."
Instead of asking Obama why a member of his administration would make such an outrageous statement about a former vice president, Smith simply mentioned that Panetta accused Cheney of "playing politics with national security issues."
In an interview with President Obama on Friday, CBS’s Harry Smith asked the "father-in-chief" about growing up without his own father: "In this fatherless world, where did you learn to love?" [audio available here]
The first part of the interview, which aired on Father’s Day on CBS’s Sunday Morning, focused on Obama’s role as "First Dad" as Smith declared: "Maybe it was on election night when we first realized not only would there be a new president but also a new first family. A family with young children...Along with the role of commander-in-chief and leader of the free world, Barack Obama would be First Dad. So, yes, there would be a swing set and, yes, there would be a dog." Sappy piano music was played in the background as a montage of Obama family photos scrolled across the screen.
Throughout the fawning profile, Smith described a young Barack Obama without a father: "He is everything his own father was not...In his first book, ‘Dreams From My Father,’ Barack Obama speaks about both the cultivated myth of his father and the cold, hard truth that he was absent by choice." At that point Smith asked: "In this fatherless world, where did you learn to love?" Obama replied: "Where I learned, I think, to be a father, was looking at some people that I respected...And it just reminded me that, you know, whatever the hardships, whatever the obstacles, you can be a good dad."
Smith then held up the president as role model to all fathers: "Your whole life is under a microscope now and believe it or not every parent in the country is watching your every move as a parent. Are you aware of that scrutiny?...The First Couple has made being present in their children's lives a top priority. The world can wait til’ after Sasha and Malia's soccer or basketball game."
ABC's This Week roundtable took up the media's favoritism toward President Obama. George Stephanopoulos marveled at “how obsessed the President and White House are with Fox News,” prompting George Will to observe that's because “it's the discordant note in an otherwise harmonious chorus.” New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller, however, cautioned “don't confuse attention with love” as he maintained of Obama's coverage: “I don't think...it's been unskeptical or uncritical.” Indeed, Keller insisted, “he's getting examined pretty microscopically.”
Sam Donaldson cracked up the panel with a back-handed slap at the White House press corps. Asked how they are doing, Donaldson proposed before being drowned out by guffaws led by Stephanopoulos: “I think it's doing okay. I mean, they're going to come to life as the public gets more skeptical-”
(Fox News Sunday also had a segment on the media's love affair with Obama. Stephen Hayes of The Weekly Standard saw “a clear ideological affinity for Barack Obama and his programs” as well as “a huge do-something bias” for government action to solve perceived problems. NPR's Mara Liasson predicted: “I think the honeymoon is probably going to wind down sometime this fall.”)
Friday's World News carried a 15-second promo, the first I've seen, for Wednesday night's controversial prime time special, “Questions for the President: Prescription for America.” Over video of President Barack Obama, ABC exulted in how “Charles Gibson and Diane Sawyer take you inside his house” for “a television event” where “President Obama answers all of your tough questions about your health care.”
(Below the jump: Look at how ABC News has incorporated Obama's image into their graphic plugging the June 24 special.)
Script of the narration:
What's more important than having good health care when you need it? Nothing. That's why Wednesday at 10 on ABC Charlie Gibson and Diane Sawyer take you inside his house: The White House, for a television event as President Obama answers all of your tough questions about your health care.
David Zurawik, a TV critic for The Baltimore Sun, has called for the “TV press...to step back and question how it is covering President Barack Obama.” Moreover, Zurawik gives a laudatory nod to Fox News for its balanced coverage of the President: “I hesitate to write these words, but good for Fox. It must be doing something right, if it has the President complaining about the tiny bit of scrutiny he gets on TV.”
The Sun critic is referring to a CNBC interview this past Tuesday, where President Obama complained that "one television station is entirely devoted to attacking" his administration. While he declined to name the network when asked by CNBC interviewer John Harwood, it is undoubtedly the Fox News Network.
As my colleague Mark Finkelstein noted this morning, now that gay activists are unhappy with Barack Obama, CBS has dusted off the “far left” label and used it to describe those who are upset that the President has not done more to advance the gay agenda. Co-host Harry Smith on Thursday: “President Obama gets some pressure from an unlikely source, the far left....”
So when was the last time CBS even used the phrase “far left” to describe fringe groups beyond the liberal mainstream? A Nexis search reveals that the last time the phrase crossed the lips of a CBS reporter was five months ago. On Inauguration Day, anchor Katie Couric mildly described unnamed “people on the far left or far right who don’t want Barack Obama to succeed.”
And the last time the “far left” label was used by CBS to describe a particular person or group was more than two years ago. On the May 17, 2007 CBS Evening News, reporter Sharyl Attkisson was talking about an immigration reform bill: “It’s a complete reform of US immigration law as we know it, worked out by a bipartisan group of negotiators, including Senator Ted Kennedy, politically on the far left, and Saxby Chambliss on the far right.”
MRC President Brent Bozell sat down in the Fox News DC bureau yesterday morning to record his reaction to ABC News's planned special at the White House on health care. [audio available here]
Fox News Channel ran Mr. Bozell's comments in news updates throughout the day, including a full story by correspondent Mike Emanuel that aired during "Special Report with Bret Baier":
Just try to put into context how ridiculous this ABC quote-unquote discussion is. Just try to imagine a world wherein ABC would give George W. Bush a two-hour opportunity to have a quote-unquote "discussion with the American people" on the war on terror.
“The honeymoon is coming to an end for President Obama,” NBC's Chuck Todd fretted Wednesday night in summarizing a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. “But,” Todd rebounded, “it's not personal. It's professional as now the public appears to be judging the President on some of his actions.” Citing “growing concern about the budget deficit and some of this government interaction into the economy on things like GM,” Todd empathized with how “Obama is now dealing with a public that is judging him more and more for the actions he's taking, and not just the promises he's made.” Underpinning that theme, NBC put “Down to Business” on screen over video of Obama walking.
Todd declared “a solid majority – 56 percent – approve of the job the President's doing,” though “that's down five points from a month ago.” Nonetheless, Todd assured NBC Nightly News viewers, “the President still is personally well-liked,” but he now must deal with how people “have raised their expectations.” As for “how much the President is taking on, the public clearly approves. 60 percent believe his focus should be on a whole range of issues at once.”
MRC President Brent Bozell sat down in the Fox News DC bureau on June 17 to record his reaction to ABC News's planned special at the White House on health care.
During the 1 p.m. EDT hour, correspondent Mike Emanuel aired one small portion of his comments [audio available here]:
Just try to imagine a world wherein ABC would give George W. Bush a two-hour opportunity to have a quote-unquote "discussion with the American people" on the war on terror. They didn't even cover some of his press conferences.
I don't just put my foot in my mouth on television -- I do it at dinner parties, too -- but at least, in that case, it doesn't show up on YouTube. Appearing on Hardball With Chris Matthews on June 5, I compared President Obama with God.
Or at least that's how it seemed to some bloggers and talk-show hosts, who made me a poster child for the argument that the liberal press is hopelessly in love with Obama.
While sitting in the dentist office Wednesday afternoon I could not escape liberal media bias as I picked up the June edition of Scientific American Magazine and found that President Obama was honored as being one of ten people "who have recently demonstrated outstanding commitment to assuring that the benefits of new technologies and knowledge will accrue to humanity."
The ‘Scientific American 10' list that featured the President included an article by Sally Lehrman, who praised Obama’s commitment to science: "After eight long years in exile, scientists have been enthusiastically welcomed back into the White House. In the first few months of his administration, President Barack Obama acted with remarkable speed to place science at the center of policymaking on climate change, energy, health care and research funding. He wiped away science-averse policies."
Lehrman later explained the consideration that went into placing Obama on the list:
ABC and CBS's morning shows on Wednesday both provided surprisingly tough questioning to Christina Romer, one of Barack Obama's economic advisors. On the issue of health care, Good Morning America co-host Diane Sawyer compared the costs of Medicare to the new health care plan and pointed out past government inaccuracies when it came to accessing cost.
She grilled, "You know, in 1965, everyone was told that over 25 years, the cost of Medicare would be $12 billion. The actual cost, $107 billion." Sawyer added, "Ten-times what the estimate was. Can you know this cost? And can you guarantee it's not going to be more than the administration believes?" Early Show co-host Maggie Rodriguez quizzed Romer, the Chairwoman of the President's Council of Economic Advisors, on Obama's repeated insistence that he has no interest in meddling in the private sector. She wondered, "He sounds like he's being forced to do these things. If he believes that big government is actually a bad thing, why doesn't he at least try less intrusive options, which are certainly be offered up?"
Reality catches up with CBS News which on Tuesday night ran a “Reality Check” story on how a new CBO report shows President Obama's claim that his government-expansion health care plan won't hike the deficit doesn't match reality. So, will ABC News display similar skepticism when it broadcasts GMA and World News from the White House next Wednesday, culminating in a prime time hour, “Questions for the President: Prescription for America”? (ABC's Jake Tapper on Monday night briefly cited the CBO report, but ABC and NBC were silent on Tuesday evening.)
Fill-in CBS Evening News anchor Jeff Glor announced “there are growing concerns that President Obama lacks a realistic plan to pay for this sweeping reform.” Reporter Wyatt Andrews related “how the nation really pays for health reform just got a shocking wake-up call. The Congressional Budget Office, CBO, said Senator Ted Kennedy's health care proposal could cost one trillion dollars over ten years, and 36 million Americans would still be uninsured.” Andrews proceeded to note how Obama “claims he can achieve reform without raising the deficit,” but, he asserted, “the fact is, this means raising taxes.” Andrews also pointed out that Obama's “more than $600 billion worth of spending cuts” to Medicare and other programs don't comport with inevitable resistance from hospitals.
During a CNBC interview, New York Times reporter John Harwood shared an intense moment with President Obama: "He had this fly that was persistently buzzing around him during the interview...he swatted his hand and he said ‘I got the sucker’...it was a, you know, Dirty Harry ‘make my day’ moment."
Harwood described the showdown at the end of the 4PM ET hour on MSNBC, after anchor David Shuster remarked: "John, I know that the President is credited with being sometimes awfully lucky, rainbows appear sometimes when he speaks, but I understand there was an instance today where he killed a fly out of mid-air during your interview." Harwood began to tell the tale: "Well, David, this reminded me of that moment during the campaign when he took a three-point shot at a military base and it swished."
After detailing the President’s courage in battling the insect, Harwood also noted Obama’s cleanliness: "...and at the end of the interview, David, he picked up a napkin off the table and said ‘I clean up after myself’ and he picked up the fly off the carpet." In awe, Shuster observed: "Amazing...An amazing interview...it never fails, great weather, rainbows, incredible speeches, and three-point basket. A fly and he nails it. Unbelievable, unbelievable."
Co-anchor Tamron Hall concluded the discussion by comparing Obama’s quick reflexes to that of the martial arts expert in the movie Karate Kid: "Mr. Miyagi, just snapped it right up. Look at that – look at that intense look."
President Barack Obama created “a very tender moment,” as he addressed the American Medical Association in Chicago, and “was right on target at reaching out to the heart of most physicians” ABC's Dr. Tim Johnson beamed on Monday's World News in reaction to fill-in anchor George Stephanopoulos paraphrasing how Obama told the doctors “our health care system should let them be healers, again, instead of bean counters.”
Johnson is a long-time advocate for a major expansion of the government's role in health care. On the March 1 World News, Johnson complained: “We spend more than twice as much per person on health care in this country as the average of all other industrialized countries, yet we’re the only one that doesn’t have universal coverage. That’s a national shame.” A few days later, Johnson participated in Obama’s health care forum, then expressed awe: “I was blown away by President Obama’s grasp of the subject, how he connected the dots, how he answered the questions without any script.” More in the MRC BiasAlert by Rich Noyes, “ABC Picks Universal Health Care Fan for Obama Health Care Special.”