Flashback: Media repeatedly declared health care reform “dead” after Brown's Senate victory

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.

Reporting on Brown, media declare health care reform “dead” or unlikely to pass

ABC's Klein: “If Democrats lose this race, healthcare is effectively dead.” A January 17 ABCNews.com article quoted ABC News senior political correspondent Rick Klein as saying of the Massachusetts Senate election, “If Democrats lose this race, healthcare is effectively dead.” The article also stated, “A Republican Win Could Kill Health Care Reform.”

Krauthammer: “If [Brown] wins, health care is dead.” On the January 18 edition of Fox News' Special Report (accessed via Nexis), Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer stated of Brown, “If he wins, health care is dead.” Krauthammer later stated: “If Brown wins tomorrow the bill as we see it is dead. The only hope is if the House swallows the Senate bill whole, which I think is not going to happen. The only alternative is to delay the swearing in of the Republican in the Senate, and that would be catastrophic for the Democrats.”

Barnes: “The Health Care Bill Is Dead.” In a January 20 Weekly Standard post, Fred Barnes wrote: “The impact of Republican Scott Brown's capture of the Massachusetts Senate seat held for decades by Teddy Kennedy will be both immediate and powerful. It's safe to say no single Senate election in recent memory is as important as this one.” Barnes added: “The health care bill, ObamaCare, is dead with not the slightest prospect of resurrection. Brown ran to be the 41st vote for filibuster and now he is just that. Democrats have talked up clever strategies to pass the bill in the Senate despite Brown, but they won't fly. It's one thing for ObamaCare to be rejected by the American public in poll after poll. But it becomes a matter of considerably greater political magnitude when ObamaCare causes the loss of a Senate race in the blue state of Massachusetts.”

Barnes: “It's dead in the House, it's dead in the Senate.” On the January 21 edition of Special Report (accessed via Nexis), Barnes claimed, after Brown's victory, “Scaling back Obama care is a non-starter. Look, it is dead. It is dead in the House. It is dead in the Senate. I'm not sure it would have passed even before Brown. Nancy Pelosi was down to 218 votes and some of the more moderate Democrats were queasy. But the whole thing is dead. Republicans aren't going to help out on this. The Republican position is get that off the table. We will start anew.”

Washington Post: “Overhauling health care” faces “dim prospects” in wake of Brown's victory. A January 24 Washington Post article stated that “Brown's victory in the Massachusetts special election on Tuesday cost the Democrats' their filibuster-proof Senate majority.” The article claimed that “Obama's biggest priorities -- overhauling health care, expanding college aid, reducing climate change -- are now in limbo, facing dim prospects as Republicans show little interest in cooperating.”

Will: “I don't see how” health care reform survives Brown's victory. On the January 19 edition of ABC's Nightline (accessed via Nexis), during a discussion of Brown's victory, host Cynthia McFadden asked, “Can the president pull the chestnuts out of the fire on this one? Can health care survive?” ABC News contributor and Washington Post columnist George Will replied, “I don't see how. There's no clamor in the country for this. There is a clamor in the country to pay attention to other things.”

Hannity: “Prince Harry has to accept the fact that his health care bill is dead.” On the January 21 edition of his Fox News show (accessed via Nexis), Sean Hannity said that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid -- who Hannity referred to as “Prince Harry” -- “has to accept the fact that his health care bill is dead” because of Brown's victory.

Gingrich predicted Dems “cannot pass a reconciliation bill through the House.” Also during the January 21 edition of Hannity, after Hannity stated that Democrats were “floating the idea” that they would use reconciliation to pass health care reform, Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich stated, “OK, let me predict that they cannot pass a reconciliation bill through the House of Representatives. The American people will be so enraged by some kind of a cheap political act by somebody like [Sen. Dick] Durbin who is the Democratic whip.” Gingrich continued, “I think the reaction of the country will be so angry that that bill would never get through the House.”

Freddoso: “With Brown's victory, Obama's big plans die.” In a January 21 Washington Examiner column, David Freddoso wrote, “With Brown's victory, Obama's big plans die. He will never have a more favorable Congress than the one he just lost -- the one that barely passed the first draft of Obamacare.” Freddoso continued, “If his health care bill cannot pass, then neither can his larger agenda of carbon limits, higher taxes for new subsidies, and stimulus packages.”

Doocy: Health care reform was “like a runaway train before Scott Brown came along.” On the January 28 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy claimed, “The Scott Brown thing really, it stopped health care in its tracks. It had been like a runaway train until Scott Brown came along and suddenly, everybody's going, hmm, we better not vote for this, we might lose our jobs.”

Varney: “I hereby say, health care is dead.” On the January 19 edition of Fox News' Hannity (accessed via Nexis), Fox Business host Stuart Varney reacted to Brown's election by predicting: “It will have a profound impact on politics and policy. I hereby say, health care is dead and I think cap and trade is dead.”

Fox Nation: “Health Care Talks Collapsing, Americans on Brink of Victory.” On January 21, Fox Nation used the headline, “Health Care Talks Collapsing, Americans on Brink of Victory” to link to a Politico article titled, “Dem health care talks collapsing.” From Fox Nation, accessed January 21:


Griff Jenkins asks Brown: “The health care bill, dead on arrival?” The January 22 edition of Fox News' On the Record claimed to offer, in host Greta Van Susteren's words, “the inside story” behind Brown's victory in the Massachusetts Senate election “from people who know him best.” As part of the segment, producer Griff Jenkins asked Brown, “And when you get [to the Senate], the health care bill, dead on arrival?”

Media previously predicted health care “dead” after Virginia, New Jersey governor elections

Hannity to NJ listeners: “Get to the polls” and “stop Obamacare in its tracks.” On Election Day, Sean Hannity addressed New Jersey voters on his radio show : “If you want change, you better get to the polls. These final minutes matter, these final couple of hours matter. Get to the polls. It's -- you can literally stop Obamacare in its tracks. Now, even if it's close, I think it still has the net effect of doing that.” [ABC Radio Networks' The Sean Hannity Show, 11/3/09]

Carlson: "[T]he elections last night may have a big impact on those Blue Dog Democrats." On Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson stated: "[T]he elections last night may have a big impact on those Blue Dog Democrats -- the conservative Democrats -- in the way in which they approach health care now. Because if they think that the tide was changing, even though it was only two states from last night, they may be more apt to listen to the American people in their states who are saying, hold on, let's not spend so much money." [Fox News' Fox & Friends, 11/4/09]

Doocy: "[G]iven the dynamics of what happened," don't “be surprised” if senators “start sounding more like Joe Lieberman.” Also on Fox & Friends, Doocy said of the election results: "[D]on't be surprised, given the dynamics of what happened in those stunning GOP wins last night, if some senators start siding and start sounding more like Joe Lieberman. You know, why do we have to change everything when it comes to health care? Maybe we should just do it incrementally." [Fox & Friends, 11/4/09]

Dick Morris: “A deathblow to Obamacare.” In a November 4 New York Post column, Morris wrote:

Chris Christie's gutsy win in New Jersey puts the arrogant big spender Jon Corzine in his place. But it is the election in Virginia that probably has more to say to marginal Democratic congressmen considering how to vote on health-care reform.


Until last night, Democratic moderates, the so-called blue dogs, could bask in the light of their candidate's success in 2008. But now they must hear hoof beats behind them. The party discipline on which Obama depends to pass a health-care program that Americans reject by 42 percent for, 55 percent against (Rasmussen again) will only work if beleaguered Democratic incumbents can wrap themselves in Obama's cloak and tough out the popular criticism.


In the coming weeks, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will be asking their troops to cast potentially career-ending votes for health-care changes, Medicare cuts, higher taxes and fines on the uninsured. Whether they take that risk depends on their faith in Obama's drawing power.

Fox News contributor Pat Caddell: "[T]here are heavy implications on this for health care." Caddell said of the election results: “I do think there are heavy implications on this for health care. ... If I were not only a Blue Dog Democrat, you look at what happened in the coal country in the western part of Virginia, which, in fact, Democrats often have never lost, lost last night, I would worry. But I'll tell you what. It's not just the Blue dogs. It's in these Northern, Midwestern suburbs where liberal democrats sit, and those voters looked like they are very unhappy about things.”

Morrissey: Results “huge blow to Obama and his agenda,” specifically “ObamaCare and cap-and-trade.” Ed Morrissey wrote of the election results on his Hot Air blog and asserted: “Being the President's 'partner' on his radical agenda is not a winning position; it wasn't for Corzine in what should have been a secure blue state, and it certainly won't be in moderate or conservative districts and states held by Democrats in the House and Senate. That is a huge blow to Obama and his agenda, as Democrats now have to consider unpopular bills for ObamaCare and cap-and-trade in an entirely new light. If they fall in behind Obama instead of listening to their constituents, they will find themselves in retirement after the 2010 midterms. That's the big lesson, and it will not be lost on moderate Democrats.” [Hot Air, 11/4/09]