Beck Continues Neverending Quest To Prove "Death Panels" Really Are "Coming"


Despite hard evidence showing otherwise, Glenn Beck has continued to claim that a "death panel" -- a myth introduced by Sarah Palin during the debate over health care reform in 2009 -- is "coming." Indeed, Beck twice repeated the false claim on his radio show recently, and he has been pushing the myth incessantly since promoting it almost two years ago by saying: "I believe it to be true."

Beck Still Fearmongering About Nonexistent "Death Panels"

Beck: "The Complete Lives System" By Obama Adviser Ezekiel Emanuel "Is The Death Panel, Just With A Different Name." On his April 12 radio show, Beck talked about comments by former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-WY), in which Simpson criticized Republicans on social issues, saying, "Who the hell's for abortion? I don't know anybody running around with a sign that says: 'Have an abortion. They're wonderful.' They're hideous. But they're a deeply intimate and personal decision, and I don't think men legislators should even vote on the issue." Beck replied:

BECK: I'm not -- I've got news for you. I'm not for social issues, either. I mean, that's not the thing that is on the top of my mind, per se. Or is it? Is our problem really that we're just spending too much or is our problem that we don't have anything that -- we don't value anything anymore?

PAT GRAY (co-host): Yeah, including human life.

BECK: If you don't value human life, how do you solve the problem with Medicare/Medicaid, Obama with the complete lives system, which is coming. Look it up. Do your own homework. The complete lives system by Zeke Emanuel, White House -- it is the death panel, just with a different name. How are you gonna decide who is gonna get care and who's not, if you don't value human life? [Premiere Radio Networks, The Glenn Beck Program, 4/12/11]

Beck: "The Only Thing That Was Distorted Was The Name: Death Panels." Defending Fox News from Howard Dean, who noted that the network continually repeated the "death panels" claim even though it had been proved false, Beck stated that "[t]he only thing that was distorted was the name: death panels." Beck and his producer Stu Burguiere then added that it was a "fact" that "care is going to be rationed." From the show:

BECK: Now if we use his definition of death panels, what is the truth in the death panel, Howard? Howard, help me out. What part of that death panel is true? That we're going to have to ration care and somebody in the government will have to decide whether you get care or not because we won't be able to afford all of the care. That's the death panel. Sarah Palin called it death panel. I explained it as the complete lives system, which is the -- which is right in the White House. It's in White House documents. It's Rahm Emanuel's brother, Zeke Emanuel, part of the team at the White House -- complete lives system. So what part is the truth there?


BECK: The only thing that was distorted was the name: death panels. It's the complete lives system.

BURGUIERE: Right. You could say the death panels is a name that's too harsh or whatever, you can make that claim. But I mean, the idea that care is going to be rationed is a well-established --

BECK: Fact.

BURGUIERE: -- part of health care, what is provided by the government. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Glenn Beck Program, 4/4/11]

Emanuel Was Discussing Allocation Of Very Scarce Resources Like Organs, Where Rationing Already Occurs

Emanuel's Paper Was About The Allocation Of "Very Scarce" Resources Like Transplanted Organs. The criticism of Emanuel's "complete lives system" proposal arises out of a 2009 paper Emanuel wrote for the British medical publication, The Lancet, in which Emanuel and his co-writer addressed medical situations in cases where "demand exceeds supply," or where "an increased supply would necessitate redirection of important resources, and allocation decisions would still be necessary." They specifically focused on the distribution of organs for transplant and on vaccines. From The Lancet:

Allocation of very scarce medical interventions such as organs and vaccines is a persistent ethical challenge. We evaluate eight simple allocation principles that can be classified into four categories: treating people equally, favouring the worst-off, maximising total benefits, and promoting and rewarding social usefulness. No single principle is sufficient to incorporate all morally relevant considerations and therefore individual principles must be combined into multiprinciple allocation systems. We evaluate three systems: the United Network for Organ Sharing points systems, quality-adjusted life-years, and disability-adjusted life-years. We recommend an alternative system -- the complete lives system -- which prioritises younger people who have not yet lived a complete life, and also incorporates prognosis, save the most lives, lottery, and instrumental value principles. [The Lancet, 1/31/09]

Emanuel: In Allocating Transplant Organs, "You Can't Avoid" Questions About Who Gets The Organ. Contrary to Beck's suggestion that Emanuel is planning to introduce rationing, Emanuel pointed out in an interview with The Washington Post's Ezra Klein that the health care system confronts the question of rationing "every day":

Before you joined the White House, you were a bioethicist. What does a bioethicist do?

Worries about some of the hardest questions society has to face. One of the quotes in the New York Post came from an article we recently published in the Lancet where the question we were confronting may be the most difficult question the health-care system faces every day. We don't have enough solid organs for transplantation; not enough kidneys, livers, hearts, lungs. When you get a liver and you have three people who need it, who should get it? We tried to come up with an ethically defensible answer. Because we have to choose.

Our system is expensive in part because we've refused to answer some of these questions, like how we deal with end-of-life care, or what minimum benefits should be guaranteed to every American. But isn't not answering those questions a sort of answer, too?

Yeah. You can't avoid these questions. Even if you don't provide an overt justification for them, you end up making decisions. Sometimes those aren't good decisions, or they're decisions you regret. We had a big controversy in the United States when there were a limited number of dialysis machines. In Seattle, they appointed what they called a "God committee" to choose who should get it, and that committee was eventually abandoned. Society ended up paying the whole bill for dialysis instead of having people make those decisions. [The Washington Post, 8/16/09]

Emanuel's Argument Considered "A Fairly Mainstream If Unpleasant Approach To A Problem With Only Bad Choices." When serial health care misinformer Betsy McCaughey distorted Emanuel's statements in a way similar to Beck, The New York Times reported that "ethicists and doctors of varying persuasions" found Emanuel's theory "fairly mainstream":

Ms. McCaughey seemed to have evidence for her conclusion that "he explicitly defends discrimination against older patients" in a recent New York Post opinion article. She quoted from a paper he co-wrote for Lancet in January: "Even if 25-year-olds receive priority over 65-year-olds, everyone who is 65 years now was previously 25."

But she did not report that the paper was addressing the allocation of "very scarce resources" like kidneys or vaccines, not the system in general.

Dr. Emanuel's argument -- that young adults should take priority in vying for limited health resources because they will get more years of life from them -- is a fairly mainstream if unpleasant approach to a problem with only bad choices, ethicists and doctors of varying persuasions say. [The New York Times, 8/24/09]

AEI Scholar Critical Of People Attacking Emanuel Over Complete Lives System. The Times also reported that Dr. Scott Gottlieb, an opponent of the health care reform plan and a scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, stated that those criticizing Emanuel over his "complete lives system" theory were taking a "very big leap" by "saying [Emanuel] believes government should take on these issues." From the Times article:

"These kinds of dilemmas go on every day in clinical practice," said Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a physician and scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative research group. "There's a very big leap to say his contemplations about how doctors contend with these issues extends to saying he believes government should take on these issues."

Dr. Gottlieb opposes the administration's proposals, calling them too prescriptive, too expensive, and too open to eventual increased rationing.

In a brief interview, Ms. McCaughey said that either way, because of its Medicare cost cuts, "the president's proposal will force hospitals to operate with scarce resources." [The New York Times, 8/24/09]

Beck Has Previously Distorted Emanuel's Writings To Push "Death Panel" Claim

Beck: "How Have I Distorted The News, By Saying That There Would Be Death Panels? Oh, No, There Are." Replying to criticism that he, and others on Fox News, "have deliberately distorted the news," Beck asked: "Have I? How have I distorted the news? By saying that there would be death panels? Oh, no, there are. There are." Beck continued:

BECK: And I actually didn't say there would be death panels; I said they would be -- somebody's gonna have to decide how we spend the money. Who lives and who dies. Who gets care and who doesn't. You can call it death panels if you want, I think I've just called it the complete lives system, which the White House calls it. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Glenn Beck Program, 11/22/10]

Beck: "The Farther You Go Towards Zero Or Towards 80, The Less Health Care You Get." Discussing President Obama's "health care plan and making end-of-life decisions for the elderly," a caller asked Beck: "Who's to say he can't parlay that over to our youth and our young, and where does it stop? Where do you draw the line?" Beck replied:

BECK: You don't draw the line. If you don't get control of your finances, you are going to be and you allow the government to continue to grow in its power and its scope. You don't draw the line. You begin to have to ration. Now, they told us before rationing wasn't gonna happen. The guy he put in charge of Medicare and Medicaid has said rationing will happen. It's not a matter of if; it's a matter of when. And we have to do it with our eyes open. Well, that means you need a system of picking and choosing who will live, who will die. The system is already there. It is Zeke Emanuel's in the White House.

We told you two years ago. In the White House, they have Zeke Emanuel, a doctor, Rahm Emanuel's brother. Look it up. It is called the complete lives system. At some point, everyone is going to be 25. Children under 3 don't count. They're gonna get the least amount of health care and those over 55 are gonna get the least amount of health care. And the farther you go towards zero or towards 80, the less health care you get. That's rationing, and it's -- that's just the way it is, period.


BECK: But to have a board make the decision, to have some sort of czar make the decision on who gets it and who doesn't and to pick and choose individual lives, that's insane. That is insane because who's playing God? You let God play God, but not man. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Glenn Beck Program, 10/5/10]

Beck: "Everybody Who's 25 Gets The Optimum Amount Of Services. And You Already Had Yours, Grandma, So You Get Fewer And Fewer." On his radio show, Beck argued that the left "will make you afraid of someone like me by ridiculing what I say." He then stated:

BECK: "Death panels": "He said 'death panels.' He's crazy." And then they'll use the fear of death panels. "He's out of his mind. He's creating an army." Instead of saying what Bill Gates said: "This is a discussion that we have to have." They've already had it. We told you on television about Ezekiel Emanuel's complete lives system. That is the death panel. Now it doesn't have a death panel in it, it just says when you get to a certain age, you get fewer and fewer services because you've already -- you were 25 once. And everybody who's 25 gets the optimum amount of services. And you already had yours, grandma, so you get fewer and fewer. Well, that's a death panel. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Glenn Beck Program, 9/13/10]

Beck: Emanuel Devised An "Emergency Program" To "Justify Rationing." Purporting to debunk statements from critics that he had been "fearmongering" about rationing during the health care debate, Beck claimed that Emanuel devised an "emergency program" to "justify rationing." From his Fox News show:

BECK: Now, that leads me to something else we talked about on this program, something that was very, very heated: rationing. Rationing under the health care bill. Critics said that that would only happen in some sort of emergency. That was the best, most honest kind of critic. The rest of them said I was only fearmongering, trying to scare old people, there was no rationing, there was nothing of the kind. Well, I showed you the emergency system, the rationing designed by them. I played their own words. I showed you their plans. It was called the "complete lives system."


BECK: From The New York Times to the basement blogs, "Glenn Beck is irresponsible, he's lying, he's causing fear, he's scaring old people. It's irresponsible to do this to people, almost seditious. There will be no rationing." Today's headline: Obama's new nominee for administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Donald Berwick, recently said this: "We make those decisions all the time. The decision is not whether or not we will ration care, the decision is whether we will ration care with our eyes open." He doesn't even need an emergency to justify rationing. Rahm Emanuel's brother, Ezekiel Emanuel. He had it, his "complete lives system." There is going to be rationing. How do I know? Look at Europe. We're becoming Europe, and Europe is collapsing. [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 5/25/10]

Beck To "Frightened" Caller On Disability, Asking If Obama's Heading Toward Eugenics: "He'd Claim No, But ... Yes." Talking with a caller "frightened" about whether Obama was headed toward eugenics, Beck said "he could claim no, but if you look at Rahm Emanuel's brother and you look at his ... complete lives program, yes, you would be one of those that would, you know -- you'd get less." From the show:

CALLER: I've worked in a factory for almost 30 years now and I have a bad back and I'm having to go on disability. It's not my choice. But I was wondering, am I gonna be -- I'm 47. Am I gonna be one of those people that, you know, that he's gonna put out of his misery because I can't, you know --

BECK: Well, luckily, they're not talking about this here. They're talking about it in Canada, so you're --

CALLER: No, I know, but isn't Obama kind of heading that direction?

BECK: Well, he could claim no, but if you look at Rahm Emanuel's brother --

CALLER: Exactly.

BECK: -- and you look at his -- what is it called -- his complete lives program, yes, you would be one of those that would, you know -- you'd get less.

CALLER: OK, but the fact that I'm a mother and a wife and a friend, that has nothing, you know, has -- they need to maybe take that into consideration. You know, maybe I can't earn a paycheck, maybe I have to get disability, but I mean something to people. You know, do they --

BECK: Bev --

CALLER: It's just really scary. I sit here and I listen to you and I -- I'm learning a lot but there's a lot of aspects of what they're doing that are really --

BECK: Evil?

CALLER: Yes. Evil.

BECK: Bev, God bless you. You don't need to be frightened because we're not those people. And we are certainly not those people anytime soon. And there will be lots of people that are gonna put up a fight against anything like this. So, you know, you don't panic. You just need to stay aware and wake your families up and have people do their own homework and their own research. It's -- see, the secret of this is, is it's always cloaked in kindness and compassion and help unless there's an emergency. Well, there's always an emergency. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Glenn Beck Program, 2/17/10]

Beck Has Repeatedly Advanced "Death Panel" Myth

Beck: America Will "Soon" Have "Hospitals Where The Plants Get Treated Better Than The Patients." Beck stated on his Fox show:

BECK: We are on the path to government health care now. Americans didn't want it because we see what's happening in government-run hospitals in the U.K. Patients are literally dying of thirst and they're drinking water from the water vases. This isn't an old story; this has happened yet again in the U.K. in the last few days. America has never had hospitals where the plants get treated better than the patients, but we soon will.

Even the president's appointment to head up Medicare, Donald Berwick, has talked about rationed care. And Paul Krugman came out and said America could face a VAT tax and death panels in the future, but only if we're serious about fixing things. I thought death panels were a myth that Sarah Palin brought up. [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 11/23/10]

Beck: "Health Care Is Gonna Take Care Of" Longer Life Expectancies. On his Fox News program, Beck asked Fox Business host John Stossel whether the United States could lower its debt. Stossel replied that "we have to chop into" programs like Social Security and Medicare because "it's unsustainable." Beck replied:

BECK: No, it's not gonna happen. I mean, it's not gonna happen. You won't get it eventually. So the -- and soon, when I say eventually. I mean, you know what's so frustrating? Is that this thing has been going like this -- we've known it since it started. FDR said you can't pass this bill onto the people in 1980. And yet, we just keep growing and growing and growing.

STOSSEL: Well, part of the problem is we rudely keep living longer. And FDR had no idea that people --

BECK: Well, health care is gonna take care of that. [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 9/16/10]

Beck Cited Ineffective Cancer Drug Avastin As Proof Of "Death Panels." Claiming that the "death panels" "are true" and that they "have been proven true," Beck pointed to the Federal Drug Administration's review of the cancer drug Avastin, stating:

BECK: We've just had two examples of it. We now have, what's his name, from Medicare/Medicaid who says we're gonna have to ration. There's a death panel.


BECK: So, who's gonna get treated, who's not -- that's a death panel.


BECK: The second thing is, that is the death panel, is a group, with the government, decided that this drug is too expensive to fight cancer with. We've been fighting it. It is the last line of defense against cancer. It does have a success rate but it's very expensive. They said no. We won't authorize it anymore. Well, that's a death panel. They've sentenced people to death, again, not by standing in a room. But, again, is that crazy talk? The Guardian says yes, "Oh, it led to the death panel talk." It's true. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Glenn Beck Program, 8/25/10]

Beck: "Your First Death Panel Is Here." On his Fox News show, Beck claimed that the FDA's review of Avastin is proof that "your first death panel is here." From the show:

BECK: No panel. It's -- no panel. It's a lie. Ridiculous conspiracy. Except your first death panel is here, "Federal regulators are considering taking the highly unusual step of rescinding approval of a drug that patients with advanced breast cancer turn to as a last-ditch hope."

What do the president and the vice president have to say now? Malarkey -- there is no panel. And the propagandists over at MSNBC -- oh, they're having a good chortle over this one, I'm sure.

See, it's not that they'd ever be called death panels or anything like that. The point has always been with this new system - it's based on money. It's possibly happening now exactly the way we said it would happen -- malarkey. [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 8/17/10]

Beck: Health Care Reform Will Lead To "Very Little Care" For "Small Babies Under 3" And The Elderly. Appearing on Fox News' Fox & Friends, Beck rehashed the "death panel" falsehood, saying that under health care reform, "for small babies under 3, you're going to get very little care. Once you hit 60 years old, you're going to get very little care. That's the way it works." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 7/27/10]

Beck Claimed Former Budget Director Peter Orszag Admitted There Are "Death Panels." Beck seized on comments by former OMB director Peter Orszag to claim that he admitted there are "death panels" in the health care law. Beck stated:

BECK: Earlier this month, White House budget director Peter Orszag admitted that the Independent Payment Advisory Board with health care would decide on quality over quantity, rationing care. Watch.

ORSZAG: The only real solution to our long-term fiscal imbalance, because it is driven disproportionately by the rate at which healthcare cost grow, is move toward a healthcare system that's based on quality and efficiency rather than quantity.

BECK: Rather than quantity. No, nothing like rationing. Silly to even think that that's what he's talking about -- rationing. No, no, just less quantity. That's it. You know, he didn't actually spell it out, "death panel," so you can't call it that. [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 4/27/10]

Beck: Olbermann "Doesn't Get It": Under "Death Panels," "Your Father Would Be Dead By Now." On his radio show, Beck continued to push the "death panel" claim during an attack on Keith Olbermann, who, in a "special comment" on his MSNBC show, cited his own experience with his hospitalized father to debunk the falsehood. At one point, referring to Olbermann, Beck stated: "Here's a guy -- he's either so twisted inside that he really, truly doesn't get it." Beck further stated that under death panels, Olbermann's father would already be dead. From the show:

OLBERMANN [audio clip]: And as I left the hospital that night, the full impact of these last six months washed over me. What I had done -- conferring with the resident in ICU, the conversation about my father's panicky, not-in-complete-control-of-his faculties demand that all treatment now stop, about the options and the consequences and the compromise, the sedation, the help for a brave man who just needed a break.

That conversation, that one, was what these ghouls who are walking into Blair House tomorrow morning decided to call death panels. Your right to have that conversation with a doctor, not the government, but a doctor, and your right to have insurance pay for his expertise on what your options are when Dad says "kill me" -- or what your options are when Dad is in a coma and can't tell you a damn thing.

BECK: No, that's not --

OLBERMANN: Or what your options are when everybody is healthy --

BECK: That is not what a death panel is, Keith Olbermann. You have the right right now to do that. You just did it. What a death panel is, is not allowing your father to have the access to health care that your father just had. A death panel picks and chooses based on their age, based on, "Well, we just need to -- we just need to be able to -- your father has had a good life. He was 25 once, now we've got 25-year-olds that need this medical attention, and your father, he's had a good life." That's what a death panel is -- not being able to conference with your doctor. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Glenn Beck Program, 2/26/10]

Beck: Under Health Care Reform, "Life Expectancy Should Start Dropping Very Quickly." Discussing Social Security benefits, Beck said:

BECK: When Social Security started, age expectancy for the average man was 58. It was 62 -- 62 for women. Well, wait a minute, when did benefits come in? At 65. Got it? SSI -- Social Security Insurance. This thing designed -- nobody was supposed to get it, just the few who actually lucked out and lived long beyond life expectancy. So if you look at this, men would get their benefits at 75 today, women would get it at 80, if it was designed to be the way that FDR originally put it together. Now who in Washington has the stones to step forward and say: "You're not getting Social Security until you're 80." Nobody. Nobody -- unless they just want to tell you the truth.

They want minimum wage to be a slave to inflation. Well, how about making Social Security a slave to life spans of Americans. And don't worry, because if health care passes, life expectancy should start dropping very quickly. Maybe we'd get down to 58 before you start getting money. [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 2/16/10]

Beck Tied "So-Called Death Panels" To Nonbinding Mammogram Guidelines. On his November 18, 2009, Fox News program, Beck said: "The health care reform debate continues. Some crazy skeptics still worried about potential rationing, so-called death panels, Sarah Palin." Beck continued: "In a totally unrelated matter, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force has seemingly done a 180-degree turn in the last six months" and then discussed the recommendations. [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 11/18/09]

Beck: "The Death Panel Isn't A Firing Squad. Sarah Palin Made A Point -- I Guess You Could Say In An Inflammatory Way." On his August 14, 2009, Fox News show, Beck claimed that there wouldn't be any actual government-run "death panels," but that the health care bill will have the same effect as a "death panel" through "rationing" of end-of-life care. From his show:

BECK: The death panel isn't a firing squad. Sarah Palin made a point -- I guess you could say in an inflammatory way. But when you implement a government health system, as they have found out in the U.K. and everywhere else on the planet, you are left with no other choice. That's just the way it is. Rationing is inevitable, and they know it. When -- when will someone in the media expose all of the lies?


BECK: Anyway, tell me about -- am I wrong in saying, without any inflammatory speech here -- don't call them death panels, just let's call them what they are. You have a certain amount of money and a certain amount of people. You can't -- they don't -- you can't give everything to everybody. Isn't it inevitable that you have to make tough choices?

DR. RAND PAUL (Kentucky Taxpayers United): Well, you know, the president says he's not going to pull the plug on grandma, but I think what he really means is he's not going to put the plug in in the first place. Because you have to decide -- some committee is going to decide what is the cost-benefit analysis for grandma?

BECK: Right.

PAUL: Grandma is not just your grandmother, she's a statistic. And we have to decide, what is the cost to society to keep her alive? And I think she won't get plugged in. Her ventilator won't be plugged in if she's 92 years old --

BECK: Right.

PAUL: -- because society may say we don't have enough money to do that. [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 8/14/09]

Beck On People Laughing At "Death Panel" Claims: "You Laugh All The Way To The Death Panels." On his August 12, 2009, radio show, Beck stated:

BECK: He was saying, yesterday, in this meeting that nobody's gonna stuff out your grandma and the crowd was laughing. Well, you --

GRAY: 'Cause that's ridiculous.

BECK: You laugh all the way --

GRAY: That's ridiculous.

BECK: -- to the -- what did Sarah Palin call the -- the "death panels"? You laugh all the way to the death panels. Go ahead. Laugh all you want, America. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Glenn Beck Program, 8/12/09]

Beck On Palin's "Death Panel" Claim: "I Believe It To Be True." On his August 10, 2009, radio show, Beck stated: "So, why is there no more discussion than there is on Sarah Palin and what she said over the weekend that there would be ... [a] death panel for her son Trig. That's quite a statement. I believe it to be true, but that's quite a statement." [Premiere Radio Networks, The Glenn Beck Program, 8/10/09]

We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.