Washington Post staff writer Dan Balz reports:
[H]ealth care will become a proxy, say strategists in both parties, for the continuing debate over whether the Obama era represents a return to bigger and more intrusive government.
A "return" to bigger and more intrusive government? From what? The small, un-intrusive government of the Bush years, when government spending skyrocketed, in part to pay for warrantless wiretapping of Americans?
It's little more than a throw-away in Balz' piece, but it's representative of how the media has internalized the Republican framing that only social programs -- and not, say, massive defense spending -- constitute "big government," and that the government is "intrusive" when it taxes you to pay for roads and health care, but not when it listens in on your phone calls and tells you who you can marry or when you can get an abortion.
For example, there are ten Washington Post articles available in the Nexis database that carry Dan Balz' byline and that refer to "intrusive" government -- none of which is a reference to abortion, gay rights, or Bush-era infringement on civil liberties. All but one is a reference to Democrats or progressive policies; the lone exception is a Republican pollster quoted saying that the Republicans' 1998 impeachment efforts undermined their image of opposing intrusive government.
Remember, according to Breitbart's latest right-wing talking point, calling somebody a racist is the worst possible allegation unfurled in America. It's an unforgivable act and Breitbart is not going to stand idly by while people do it.
Well actually, it turns out Breitbart will stand idly by when people do. And specifically when right-wingers throw around the "racist" charge about Obama, Breitbart won't say boo. But we'll give him another chance to redeem himself and prove that he's not just a hypocrite.
The latest "racist" attack comes courtesy of (surprise!) Pamela Geller. Here's her wingnut headline:
Racist Obama will Not Be Photographed with Jewish Prime Minister of Israel
And here's the hate speech:
This is a .... sin. An outrage. I am sure all of the nazis and Jew-haters are rubbing their hands in glee. The man is a horror. G-d bless Netanyahu for tolerating the jihadist-in-chief. I am deeply ashamed of my once great country.
We anxiously await Breitbart's denunciation.
The Post TV critic sets his sights on CNN vet, and respected journalist, Amanpour who was recently hired by ABC News to take over as the host of its Sunday morning show, This Week. "It was a bad choice," writes Shales. But the objections he raises seem rather pointless.
He levels two key charges. First, right-wing partisan critics don't like Amanpour. And second, some anonymous ABC insiders are angry that the company hired from the outside.
I mean, who cares that the right-wing Media Research Center has a big, thick file to 'prove' how Amanpour is guilty of liberal bias? News flash: It didn't matter who ABC hired for the This Week job, MRC was going to object in it's predictable knee-jerk fashion. This is the-sun-rises-in-the-east type of stuff.
As for the complaints from ABC insiders, this is almost as predictable as MRC objecting to the Amanpour hire. The This Week host is a plum job, and in an ego-driven industry like celebrity news journalism, of course some people inside ABC are going to feel slighted. And of course they're going to find media outlets to broadcast their hurt feelings. (Anonymously, naturally.)
But is Shales honestly suggesting that ABC should re-think the Amanpour hire because it ruffled some feathers internally? And is Shales really suggesting that ABC re-think the Amanpour hire because MRC complained?
As I mentioned, Shales' objections seem pretty weak.
UPDATED: Shales writes that ABC News is practically being torn apart by Amanpour's arrival [emphasis added]:
As if outside opposition to Amanpour weren't enough, ABC News is practically in a state of internal revolt over her selection, according to such industry-watchers as TV Newser, which quotes ABC insiders as resenting Westin's hiring of a highly paid celebrity interloper for a job that many thought would go to White House correspondent Jake Tapper or to "Nightline" co-anchor Terry Moran.
But if you go to TV Newswer, here is one of the only quotes from an ABC insider about Amanpour's hiring:
"In general, people are too demoralized to care," says a veteran ABC correspondent, speaking on condition of anonymity because he may be among those laid off if there aren't enough voluntary buyouts.
"The appointment of Amanpour is a sideshow," he continues. "The future of a Sunday morning talk show is trivial to people who believe they have no future at ABC News."
Does that sound like a newsroom consumed by "revolt"?
UPDATED: Salon's Greenwald weighs in:
In arguing why she's a "bad choice," Shales writes that "[s]upporters of Israel have more than once charged Amanpour with bias against that country and its policies," and adds: "A Web site devoted to criticism of Amanpour is titled, with less than a modicum of subtlety, 'Christiane Amanpour's Outright Bias Against Israel Must Stop,' available via Facebook." Are these "charges" valid? Is this "Web site" credible? Does she, in fact, exhibit anti-Israel bias? Who knows? Shales doesn't bother to say. In fact, he doesn't even bother to cite a single specific accusation against her; apparently, the mere existence of these complaints, valid or not, should count against her.
Shales' attack on Amanpour really does seem like a classic cheap shot.
UPDATED: The Times' Paul Krugman adds that Shales' attack is "weird" and "distinctly off."
I've been trying to figure out what it is that enables NewsBusters to stand out as a beacon of ineptitude in an online environment that is positively saturated with thickheaded right-wingers making incoherent complaints about the "liberal media." And I think I've hit upon it.
It's not just that their arguments don't make sense; they're also wildly and comically inconsistent.
Take, for example, their reaction yesterday to Sunday's health care vote, in which they posted two entries attacking the media for referring to the passage of health care reform as "historic." Now, say what you will about the bill's merits, but it's indisputable that such a major overhaul of the nation's health care system is "historic," whether you believe that the bill will improve the lives of all Americans or turn the country into the next Soviet Union.
But today, NewsBuster Noel Sheppard pens an entry that twice refers to the health care vote as "historic," and criticizes CNN's Rick Sanchez for not spending more time reporting on its historicalness:
On the day after the historic healthcare reform vote in the House of Representatives, CNN's Rick Sanchez decided to use his interview with Congressman Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) to bash former Alaska governor Sarah Palin.
Add it all up, in a six minute interview with a member of Congress just hours after a historic vote in the House, Sanchez spent half of the time chatting with the man about his caustic opinion of Sarah Palin.
Now THAT'S good journalism.
Just so we're clear, NewsBusters' position is that reporting on the "historic" nature of the health care vote is bad journalism, unless doing so means you won't say something mean about Sarah Palin, at which point it becomes good journalism.
Don't try and make sense of it all. Just point and laugh. That's what we do.
I'm surprised the fact that Republican members of Congress openly booed president Obama from inside the House chamber during the Sunday health care reform vote didn't become more of a thing in the media. (You can hear some of the boo's here, at the 1:40 mark.) It certainly seemed newsworthy to me, and possibly unprecedented. I mean, there are strict rules of decorum, right?
And keep in mind, this wasn't Obama's political opponents booing in response to something the president said while speaking to Congress. This wasn't Republicans taking issue with a statement Obama made that they thought was inaccurate. (Dems did that during the 2005 SOTU when Bush made false statements about Social Security.) This was Obama's political opponents booing the mere mention of the president's name.
But according to Politico's account, it's normal for members of Congress to boo the president:
Then there was the scene on the Speaker's Balcony adjacent to the chamber. All day Sunday, House Republicans walked from the floor to shout encouragement and wave American flags to whip up a crowd of boisterous anti-health-bill protesters.
All of this was accompanied by the more typical chamber mischief used by any party in the minority, including frequent interruptions of opponents with points of order and booing mentions of the president's name.
Really? It was "typical" during the previous administartion for Democratic members of Congress to loudly boo whenever president Bush's name was mentioned in the chamber?
That doesn't seem quite right.
You almost have to admire the tenacity of the Investors' Business Daily editorial board. Even when one of their claims is proven false beyond a shadow of a doubt, they just can't stop pushing it.
Last week, IBD claimed that a dubious poll they commissioned and published last summer which showed that a sizeable percentage of doctors would retire if health care reform was passed was confirmed by a "new" poll which they claimed "was published" in "one of the most prestigious medical journals in the world." IBD went on to baselessly speculate that the poll had been reviewed by the publication's editors before its publication, giving it credibility.
None of that was true. Media Matters, engaging in the sort of journalistic activity that IBD's editors are apparently unaware, actually contacted NEJM to ask about IBD's speculation. They told us that the survey was not reviewed by NEJM's editors, and never appeared in the publication. The survey, conducted by The Medicus Firm, a medical recruitment firm, actually appeared in an employment newsletter produced by Massachusetts Medical Society, "the publishers of the New England Journal of Medicine," and on the NEJM "CareerCenter" website.
The idea that the survey "confirm[ed]" IBD's polling is similarly dubious. The Medicus survey was not a scientific poll; its methodology consisted of emailing a sample of the firm's physician database. The IBD poll was termed "not credible" by statistician Nate Silver, who noted that the survey was conducted by mail, included "blatantly biased questions," and comes from a pollster with an extremely poor record for accuracy.
None of this, however, has kept IBD from still running with this claim. Yesterday, they wrote of health care reform:
This legislation will cause doctors to flee in droves. The New England Journal of Medicine just released a survey, confirming our own polling, finding that 46% of primary care physicians would consider quitting medicine under this bill.
This is starting to get sad. Perhaps IBD should spent a little less time pushing abject falsehoods and a little more time "checking on" that Hawaiian earthquake.
The following correction was printed in the March 23 edition of The New York Times:
Several articles since September about the troubles of the community organizing group Acorn referred incorrectly or imprecisely to one aspect of videotaped encounters between Acorn workers and two conservative activists that contributed to the group's problems.
In the encounters, the activists posed as a prostitute and a pimp and discussed prostitution with the workers. But while footage shot away from the offices shows one activist, James O'Keefe, in a flamboyant pimp costume, there is no indication that he was wearing the costume while talking to the Acorn workers.
The errors occurred in articles on Sept. 16 and Sept. 19, 2009, and on Jan. 31 of this year. Because of an editing error, the mistake was repeated in an article in some copies on Saturday. (Go to Article)
I'm not going to pretend that Fox News has any interest in giving their viewers a fair -- or even accurate -- picture of health care reform. They've been talking "socialized medicine" and "death panels" for months and aren't showing any sign of stopping now that the health care reform bill is poised to become law.
But it takes a special kind of chutzpah to offer up Rudy Giuliani as some sort of authority on health care reform, which is what Fox & Friends did this morning.
Just as a quick reminder, the last time Giuliani was spotted delving into health care was in the middle of his catastrophic failure of a presidential campaign. In August 2007 he offered up a health care reform proposal that -- well, perhaps "proposal" is too strong a word. Let's say that he gave a speech in which he said the words "health care" more times than usual, but spent the majority of it attacking the Democratic plot to enact "socialist" health policies.
What policy prescriptions he did offer were laughably vague and essentially ripped off a health care plan President Bush put forward and ultimately abandoned. Giuliani said at the time that he didn't know how much his "plan" would cost, nor could he say how many uninsured Americans it would cover. But health care policy wonk Ezra Klein deconstructed Giuliani's plan, such as it was, and reached this conclusion: "So Giuliani's proposal -- if it were more generous than it actually is, and would really cut premiums in half -- might reduce the ranks of the uninsured by three percent." Moreover, Giuliani himself acknowledged that his plan was reliant on the magic of the free market, and might have taken several years to lower costs to the point that the lucky three percent could actually afford health insurance.
In his appearance on Fox & Friends, Giuliani several times described the soon-to-be-signed bill as a "disaster" for New York, and rehashed the same garbage he spewed on the campaign trail: "The reality is this is not health care reform. This is a Democratic ideological commitment to moving towards socialized medicine. It has nothing to do with reforming health care. ... This is really ideology trumping good sense, and it's a left wing ideology. Most Democrats would have loved to have seen socialized medicine. They would have loved to have seen single-payer system, they acknowledged that. This was a big step in that direction."
In short, Rudy Giuliani is not someone who takes seriously or even understands health care policy. And on Fox News that makes him an expert.
UPDATE: Turns out America's Mayor was also on MSNBC's Morning Joe earlier today to talk health care, though, to their credit, the MSNBC hosts actually challenged Giuliani on whether his uninformed rhetoric is "constructive" and openly mocked his claim that Obama pushed health care reform and the auto company bailouts solely for the benefit of the unions. Still, no one seems able to explain why Giuliani is a sought-after voice on health care policy.
Leave it to Foxbusiness.com to provide the, um, clarity:
Like the bill or not, Wall Street closed at its highest level since Oct. 2008 on Monday as the House's historic health-care vote removed a huge cloud of uncertainty that had been hanging over the markets.
And this money quote:
"Everyone is just happy we got the vote, it got through and now we're going to move forward -- whether you agree with the vote or not. Clarity and transparency are what investors like," Jonathan Corpina, senior managing partner at Merdian Equity Partners, told FOX Business.
This doesn't pass the smell test. Because is Fox Business, along with its Wall St. sources, really claiming that stocks rose on Monday regardless of what investors thought about the historic passage of health care reform? Are they really suggesting that if investors, as well as big business and corporate America, hated health care reform that stocks still would have gone up simply because everyone was happy with "clarity"; with closure?
I don't buy it. If big business actually thought reform was going to cripple the economy and was the first step towards socialism, which is what some Fox News pundits have been claiming, then the market would have cratered 300 or 400 points. Easy.
If the bill was really a "disaster" for business, as CNBC's Jim Cramer claimed last week, the markets would have responded an in obvious manner. Instead, the Dow went up.
Question: Could yesterday's Wall Street performance be the first of many right-wing health care bugaboos (Glenn Beck: reform will "drive out of business every single health care insurance company") that will quickly be proven to be phony?
(h/t Bill Scher)
From a March 22 Atlas Shrugs post: