The end of Congress’s long debate over ObamaCare could be near, as the President pushes for a final vote this week before his Asia trip, and House Democrats want a resolution before next week’s Easter break.
Yet whether or not liberals’ dreams are ultimately realized, they have had a huge advantage throughout the process. Over the past twelve months, journalists have continually stacked the deck in favor of a big government takeover of health care.
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.
Perhaps it was an early Christmas wish, but "Good Morning America" anchor Diane Sawyer and chief medical editor Tim Johnson shared some overly optimistic thoughts about the health care bill that narrowly passed the House of Representatives Nov. 7.
Sawyer kicked off the one-sided conversation with Johnson by asking him, "Well, if the president gets his wish and a bill either by the end of the year or the beginning of next year we had a simple question: What changes first in the lives of ordinary Americans?"
Sawyer's timetable is purely imaginary. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said on Nov. 8 that the bill is "dead on arrival to the Senate." Graham elaborated saying, "I hope and pray it doesn't [pass] because it would be a disaster for the economy and health care."
“It is possible to have a very good health insurance system without a public option,” ABC's Dr. Tim Johnson acceded on Tuesday's World News in the wake of the Senate Finance Committee's bi-partisan rejection of the liberal quest, but without it we must follow Switzerland and Germany which have “no public option” yet impose “very heavy government regulation” on the health insurance industry. “One way or another, public option or regulation, the government has to play a role,” Johnson, who in March declared it a “national shame” that the U.S. lacks universal coverage, maintained. [audio here, video below page break]
ABC anchor Charles Gibson actually issued a liberal tag in setting up the segment on “a set-back today for the President and liberal Democrats.” Gibson relayed how “the President says we need this public option to keep insurance costs in line. Now with that gone,” he fretted in accepting the view of public option advocates, “do we face escalating insurance costs?”
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:
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.”
After days of media alarm regarding the H1N1 virus, or "swine flu," ABC "World News with Charles Gibson" provided a calmer analysis on April 30.
Medical editor Dr. Timothy Johnson told anchor Charles Gibson the "good news" about this flu virus and admitted that "sometimes we as the media" "do overreact."
"In an amazing feat of modern science Charlie, they've been able to send out this sequence for scientists to study and they've found a couple of interesting things. One - there's an amino acid that's missing in this virus that is found in more lethal viruses suggesting that this may not be, at least in its current form, as lethal as some had feared," Johnson told ABC viewers.
"There's also a suggestion that its enough like past flu viruses, particularly the 1957 virus, that is may have produced immunity over the years especially in older people. Which may, and I stress the word may explain why older people do not seem to be getting it yet," Johnson continued.
CBS's Katie Couric and ABC's Dr. Tim Johnson tried to provide cover Thursday night for Vice President Biden's gaffe about the swine flu threat, which forced two cabinet secretaries and the White House spokesman to correct his advice to avoid planes and subways, as Couric asked an expert to confirm “that's not terrible advice in certain situations, is it?” and Johnson spun it into a positive, proposing: “In an ironic way, the reaction -- the information that has come out in reaction -- has been very informative.”
Talking with Dr. Jennifer Ashton, Couric pointed out how “the Vice President created a bit of a brouhaha when he said he would tell his family to avoid confined public spaces, but that's not terrible advice in certain situations, is it?” Ashton supported Couric's premise, suggesting “common sense precautions apply here,” so “people who have weakened immune systems, who have cancer, are HIV-positive,” if they would avoid people “a week ago, they should do it today.” But Biden was not warning just those with such vulnerabilities.
This wasn't the first time Couric helped Biden. Last year, when candidate Biden declared in a taped interview with Couric that “when the stock market crashed, Franklin Roosevelt got on television,” she ran the soundbite in which he had cited FDR to denounce Bush's handling of the economy, but failed to point out his historical error: FDR was not in office at the time of the 1929 crash and his “fireside chats” were on the radio.
President Obama's health care summit at the White House played into receptive television news hands Thursday night as NBC displayed “Fixing Health Care” on screen before reporter Chuck Todd appropriated the coach who inspired “win one for the Gipper” by touting how “the President's drive to pass health care got a Knute Rockne-like boost with a surprise appearance” by Senator Ted Kennedy, while ABC's Dr. Tim Johnson, who on Sunday had decried as a “national shame” America's lack of universal health care, effused: “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.”
CBS's Chip Reid corroborated Obama's point about soaring costs by citing a business where “in 2005, it cost $75,000 to cover about 25 employees. In 2008, it cost $148,000,” as if more government involvement to expand the number of people covered will lower costs. Reid also hailed Obama's fresh approach: “Instead of doing battle with insurance companies, drug companies, hospitals, and doctors, this time all those groups are in the room, most agreeing that now is the time for shared sacrifice.”
“Ultimately,” President Barack Obama will get his way on “universal” health coverage, because of “just one fact” ABC's Dr. Tim Johnson declared “I want to let everybody hear,” and that is the “national shame” of how “we spend more than twice as much, per person, on health care in his country as the average of all other industrialized countries, yet we're the only one that doesn't have universal coverage.”
Answering a question from World News anchor David Muir on Sunday night about the likelihood health care reform will pass, Johnson predicted:
I think there's going to be an intense, partisan debate. But ultimately, David, there is just one fact I want to let everybody hear: We spend more than twice as much, per person, on health care in his 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 and I think ultimately that's what's going to unite Democrats and Republicans.
ABC's "Good Morning America" isn't afraid to call 'em like they see 'em.
On health care, Chris Cuomo set up his resident health expert to deliver an outright insult to the American people. Republican Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) advocates more patient choice and flexibility in buying health insurance, but ABC’s medical editor, Dr. Tim Johnson, scoffed at that notion in a September 5 story.
“The idea that individuals are going to have enough knowledge and enough savvy and enough insight and, frankly, enough guts to make choices all by themselves is pretty much a pipe dream,” Johnson said.
ABC’s Web site touts Johnson as “one of the nation's leading medical communicators of health care information.”
All week (and apparently next week during the Republican convention), ABC’s Good Morning America will use its liberal prism to evaluate how the candidates’ policy proposals might help families with the last name of Jones, with a segment entitled “Meet the Joneses.” On Monday, as MRC’s Justin McCarthy pointed out, reporter Chris Cuomo hit Barack Obama’s tax proposals from the left, suggesting that even his tax hikes on “the rich” might not leave enough money for the government.
Tuesday, Cuomo found a family that was willing to go on camera and whine about having to spend $160 per month -- yes, just one-hundred sixty dollars and no cents -- on their daughter’s health care without being reimbursed by their evil HMO. After not being reassured that Obama’s “reforms” could guarantee that this specific family would save the average $2,500 per year, Cuomo pressed Obama advisor Austan Goolsbee from the left: “Why not take the big step and say universal health care? Or is that just too ugly a word?”
Despite ABC News's concerns about Republican presidential candidate John McCain's health, 1,173 pages of medical records just released to the press show the Arizona senator "appears cancer-free, has a strong heart and is in otherwise general good health."
This is in stark contrast to a segment on Thursday's "World News with Charles Gibson" (reported by my colleague Brent Baker) which addressed concerns about McCain having suffered "physical" and "psychological damage" while "he was in captivity in North Vietnam," and him having "about a 30 percent chance of developing serious memory loss or even dementia."
Makes you wonder if Gibson will do a follow-up report Friday evening to address the medical information just analyzed by the Associated Press (emphasis added):
Not waiting until the actual Friday release of John McCain's medical records, on Thursday's World News anchor Charles Gibson (who's 65) and Dr. Tim Johnson (who at 72 is older than McCain) speculated about McCain's health. Gibson wondered about “psychological damage” from his POW captivity. Assured there's no evidence of that, Gibson jumped to wonder how much longer McCain has to live, a question which led Johnson to warn, that while McCain may live another 16 years, there's a decent chance he'll develop “dementia.”
Gibson asked: “There's also an enormous amount of medical records involving the time that he was in captivity in North Vietnam to check to see what physical damage he suffered and maybe what psychological damage.” Johnson replied that Navy psychiatrists monitored McCain “for many years after his release. They found no evidence of any serious problem. And he strongly denies any symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.” Gibson pounced with a new line of fear: “But he's 71 years old. What do the actuarial tables say about a man who's 71 years old?” Johnson explained they say he should live to 87, but:
Much more difficult, of course, to predict any change in mental acuity. At age 71, there's about a 30 percent chance of developing serious memory loss or even dementia.
ABC's George Stephanopoulos highlighted adversarial quotes and characterizations for an interview with 2008 Republican candidate Mike Huckabee on Tuesday's "Good Morning America." The former Clinton operative quoted conservative Phyllis Schlafly as saying, "[Huckabee] destroyed the conservative movement in Arkansas" and Betsy Hagen of the Eagle Forum who compared the GOP contender to Bill Clinton and labeled him a liberal. In a previous piece, ABC reporter Jake Tapper highlighted an American Spectator article that derided Huckabee as "a guy with a thin skin, a nasty vindictive streak and a long history of imbroglios about questionable ethics."
Now, one could argue that Stephanopoulos's critique hit Huckabee from the right and, by quoting Schlafly, questioned whether the former governor is conservative enough to be the GOP nominee. However, just two weeks ago ABC medical expert Dr. Tim Johnson conducted a fawning interview with Hillary Clinton over her health care plan. He lauded the Democrat for knowing "health care better, I think, than any other candidate" and gushed over how impressed he was with the New York senator's "knowledge base." She certainly didn't face any adversarial quotes about temperament and "questionable ethics."
Hillary Clinton is smart and clearly knows health care better than any other 2008 candidate. That's according to ABC's medical expert, Dr. Tim Johnson. On Friday's "Good Morning America," the network contributor gushed, "She certainly knows health care better, I think, than any other candidate....I'm very impressed with her knowledge base." Johnson lauded Clinton for "offering a wide range of options" and regurgitated the candidate's use of the word choice in relation to her health care plan. He also failed to ever mention taxes or how the government would pay for universal health coverage.
Johnson may be a respected medical expert, but he's clearly a Clinton cheerleader. He has a long history of backing Bill and Hillary, as well as other liberal politicians. On Friday, the doctor casually asked Mrs. Clinton, "You have said that providing health insurance for everyone is a moral issue. Do you think the Republicans who are against it are immoral?" The ABC contributor also praised the 2008 contender for speaking "eloquently" on issues related to health care and, after noting that America has only had male presidents, sycophantically wondered, "Do you think being a female president would make any difference in leading the health care reform debate?"
The CBS and ABC evening newscasts led Monday night -- even before O.J. Simpson -- by trumpeting Hillary Clinton's universal health care plan, a proposal fill-in CBS anchor Harry Smith insisted addresses a vital need: “It's a huge problem. An estimated 47 million are not covered.” Of course, CBS didn't bother explaining how a significant number of those can afford insurance or are illegal aliens. ABC's medical doctor, Tim Johnson, who back in 1993 called Bill and Hillary Clinton “almost heroes in my mind for finally facing up to the terrible problems we have with our current health care system,” praised Senator Clinton's new plan: “Every industrialized country in this world that is successful with health care -- often more successful than we are -- has a partnership between government and the private sector.”
Smith led the CBS Evening News: “She tried to do it as First Lady. Now, as a presidential candidate, she is trying again. Hillary Clinton today outlined a new plan for making sure every American has health insurance. It's a huge problem. An estimated 47 million are not covered.” Reporter Jim Axelrod asserted “Clinton doesn't remind reminding people of her past painful experience in health care reform” because “in the latest CBS News poll, 66 percent of registered voters say her health care experience will help her.” Charles Gibson led ABC's World News: “We start with Senator Clinton, now trying to get to the White House by promising to do something she couldn't do when she was in the White House -- come up with a plan to provide health care for all Americans that would be accepted by Congress.”