On the March 23 edition of Fox & Friends, Fox Legal Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano advanced the smear that President Obama bribed Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT) to vote in favor of health care reform by appointing his brother to the appeals court and falsely claimed that after Obama's actions, Matheson "changed his vote to yes." In fact, Rep. Matheson again voted "No" on health care reform and allegations of a deal between Matheson and the White House are completely baseless.
While reporting on the special Massachusetts Senate election in January, numerous media figures declared or suggested that health care reform was or would be "dead" should the Republican candidate, Scott Brown, win the election -- a media meme that continued following Brown's victory.
Right-wing media have repeatedly attacked health care reform and smeared Democrats with baseless allegations that the Obama administration has attempted to buy votes or has cut "special deals" or "bribes" for health care reform.
Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace falsely claimed that deals for "one bank in North Dakota" and "more water supplies for farmers in central California" were "special deals" to ensure passage of health care reform legislation. In fact, the water allocations are a Department of the Interior decision based on heavier winter rainfall, and a provision that would have benefited the Bank of North Dakota was removed from the bill.
In their latest baseless claim that the Obama administration is "[b]uying votes" for its health care bill, right-wing media figures have alleged, citing no evidence, that a Department of the Interior announcement that California's Central Valley will receive greater water allocations was a "bribe" for two congressmen from the region. In fact, the allocation was reportedly increased because El Nino winter rains have "helped replenish the state's biggest reservoir."
Following the Congressional Budget Office's score of the health care reform reconciliation package, Fox News has attempted to portray the nonpartisan CBO as untrustworthy and unreliable. By contrast, after the CBO gave a "favorable" score to the GOP health care plan, Fox praised the office as "nonpartisan" and advanced false GOP claims about the CBO's findings.
Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz recently reported that some "Fox journalists" believe that colleague Glenn Beck "uses distorted or inflammatory rhetoric that undermines their credibility." Nevertheless, Fox News' reporters and "news" programs have routinely promoted and echoed Beck on stories such as the 9-12 Project, tea party protests, ACORN and former White House officials Van Jones and Anita Dunn.
On the March 16 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, co-host Bill Hemmer falsely claimed that the House was considering a "self-executing rule that does not require a single vote" to pass health care reform. In fact, the self-executing rule requires a majority vote in order to pass and, as Ezra Klein has noted, "the effect" of passing it "is not any different than if Congress were to pass" the Senate's health care "bill first and pass the reconciliation fixes after."
On March 14, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin posted a new anti-health care reform essay on her Facebook page that contains numerous falsehoods regarding reconciliation, House rules, and "federal funding of abortion."
Columnists George Will and David Brooks both claimed that the deficit reduction provisions of the Senate health care bill are, in Brooks' words, "totally bogus" because "it has 10 years of taxes and six years of benefits." In fact, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has estimated that the Senate bill will not only reduce budget deficits through 2019, but will continue to reduce deficits in the following decade.