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Marcia Kuntz

Author ››› Marcia Kuntz
  • Media commit malpractice in health care debate coverage

    Blog ››› ››› MARCIA KUNTZ

    Robert Kuttner was referring to what's "off" about the arguments used against health care reform, but he could just as easily be describing what's missing from the media's coverage of this debate:

    Something is severely off when economically stressed Americans confront members of Congress about "death panels" in the Obama health plan. The rumors, fanned by talk radio with a little help from Republicans, are false and even delusional. Yet the anger, if misdirected, is genuine.

    People should be plenty angry about their jobs and their mortgages and their health insurance. With health care, however, virtually all of the fears attributed to the Obama health reform efforts more accurately describe the existing private system.

    It is private insurance companies that ration care by deciding what is covered and what is not. Private plans limit which doctor and hospital you can use, define "preexisting conditions" and make insurance unaffordable for tens of millions. For many, all this can cause suffering and sometimes even death. Our one oasis of socialized medicine, Medicare, has the most choice and the least exclusion.

    The apparent ignorance of the reality of health care on the part of a significant portion of the public is understandable. Many in the media, giving legitimacy to demagogically driven claims that the Democrats want to legislate "death panels" and even sacrifice Grandma, are committing malpractice in their reporting on the current state of health care. They have grossly distorted the debate -- pushing the issue of whether rationing will occur under a new system, while ignoring the fact that it is currently rampant; refusing to cover real-life evidence of insurance company malfeasance. Perhaps most egregiously, they have obfuscated the truth and willfully refused to challenge public plan option opponents with a simple fact: Medicare is a public plan.

  • Is Philly Inquirer also OK with Yoo's hypocrisy?


    In his May 10 column, reportedly the first in which he was identified as an Inquirer columnist, John Yoo denounced President Obama for citing empathy as a qualification he will seek in a Supreme Court nominee -- after Yoo lavished praise on Justice Clarence Thomas for displaying that very quality.

  • The (growing) case against "The Case Against Sotomayor"

    Blog ››› ››› MARCIA KUNTZ

    Jeffrey Rosen has responded to the criticism highlighted by American University law professor Darren Hutchinson and then by Media Matters that he misrepresented a footnote by one of Judge Sotomayor's colleagues. In his original article, Rosen claimed that in the footnote Judge Ralph Winter "suggest[ed] that an earlier opinion by Sotomayor might have inadvertently misrepresented the law in a way that misled litigants." As Prof. Hutchinson and Media Matters pointed out, Judge Winter's footnote did not say or suggest any such thing. Rather, as we wrote:

    Winter's footnote in the case says that a litigant in a third case has read Sotomayor's Samaria opinion in a way that "would attribute to it the overruling of a long-standing line of cases in this circuit." Winter makes it clear that Sotomayor's opinion provided no actual basis for the litigant's erroneous interpretation: "Samaria does not purport to address the validity of those cases in any way." As Hutchinson wrote, "Rosen has completely misrepresented Winter's footnote in order to question Sotomayor's competence as a judge, when the footnote actually criticizes the attorney's misplaced reliance upon the opinion she authored."

    In a post with the headline "More Sotomayor," following his original article headlined "The Case Against Sotomayor" (a headline that Rosen says he regrets and says he "hadn't seen in advance"), Rosen writes:

    Some readers have questioned my account of how "a conservative colleague, Ralph Winter, included an unusual footnote in a case suggesting that an earlier opinion by Sotomayor [United States v. Samaria] might have inadvertently misstated the law in a way that misled litigants." Indeed, the footnote is hardly a model of clarity-and I can see why readers might not come to the same conclusion I reached. But the careful observers of the Second Circuit I talked to, who were familiar with the case, said Winter was widely assumed to be making an effort to be polite, avoiding direct criticism of his colleague while trying to distinguish Sotomayor's holding in Samaria from some loosely written dicta. In their view, Sotomayor's dicta in Samaria could indeed be read to call the earlier cases into question, just as the litigants suggested, and they believe Winter was trying to contain the damage to avoid embarrassing his colleague.

    Rosen does acknowledge that he "can see why readers might not come to the same conclusion I reached," but then he justifies coming to that conclusion, not on the basis of what Winter actually wrote, but on the basis of what he says unnamed "careful observers ... said Winter was widely assumed to be" doing. In other words: Don't believe what you read; believe what I'm telling you "careful observers ... widely assumed" Winter meant. Moreover, if Rosen is right that Winter meant to criticize Sotomayor in the footnote for creating ambiguity by what Rosen calls "loosely written dicta," then Winter did so in a footnote that Rosen says "is hardly a model of clarity." So let's get this straight. Rosen supports his claim about "concerns about [Sotomayor's] command of technical legal details" by citing a footnote that Rosen himself acknowledges can be read differently from what Rosen says it means.

    That would seem to constitute another in a growing list of reasons for why Rosen's article is "hardly a model" of fairness or sound legal reasoning.

    Rosen did not respond to The New Yorker's Amy Davidson, who pointed out that Rosen cropped a comment by judge Jose Cabranes to make it appear as though Cabranes was critical of Sotomayor's intellect - and that, in fact, the full quote included praise for Sotomayor's intelligence.

  • Fox's Garrett exaggerated in claiming Obama's statistic on bankruptcies tied to health costs is "[n]ot even close"


    At a March 5 health-care forum, President Obama said, "The cost of health care now causes a bankruptcy in America every 30 seconds." On Special Report, Major Garrett reported that when asked to support that statistic, the White House cited a 2005 op-ed by Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren in which she referred to a Harvard study that supports the statistic. But Garrett did not note this. Instead, he referred to Treasury Department statistics from 2000 and pronounced Obama's assertion "[n]ot even close."

  • Flashback to 2007: Possible Senate challenger Kudlow accused Dodd of "harping about income inequality" during "Bush/Bernanke boom"

    Blog ››› ››› MARCIA KUNTZ

    Amid reports that MSNBC's Larry Kudlow is considering a run against Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd, Media Matters for America decided to check out what Kudlow has said about Dodd in the past. We came across this column from 2007, which is interesting for a couple of reasons: Describing a hearing in which Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke testified about the then-strong economy, Kudlow accuses Dodd of "harping about income inequality and wage stagnation, trying to change the subject from the excellent economic news and pave the way for a tax hike on the top, most successful American earners."

    So, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, testifying before Congress, officially threw in with Goldilocks - moderate growth, declining inflation.

    The stock market loved it, up 100 points. Stocks soared in all sectors and around the world.

    Strong business, rising exports to the rest of the world, healthy consumers, low unemployment, wages on their best run in years - these were Bernanke's key bullet points.

    Senate Democrats like Christopher Dodd and Chuck Schumer kept harping about income inequality and wage stagnation, trying to change the subject from the excellent economic news and pave the way for a tax hike on the top, most successful American earners. But wages are booming. And the rest of the inequality story is so much statistical illusion and faux arithmetic. (Just ask Washington economics scholar Alan Reynolds).