This morning, Media Research Center president Brent Bozell appeared on Fox News' Fox & Friends to talk about new CMS head Donald Berwick and, even without listening to the segment, one can pretty much guess what he said. Though Bozell took pains to stress that his statements were “not right-wing talking,” he nevertheless went ahead and parroted the right-wing line that Berwick is “a proud socialist,” adding, “Karl Marx would be proud of this man.”
Beginning around 10 a.m., Bozell passed the baton onto his NewsBusters site, where writers put up a slew of posts trying to hammer home the point that Berwick has "pro-socialized medicine views," is “controversial” because he has "promised" that the “decision is not whether or not we will ration care, the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open,” and has "insisted that health-care systems must redistribute wealth." Yep, I'm pretty sure that covers your run-of-the-mill “right-wing talking” points, no matter what Bozell claims.
Well, let's review those claims, which, incidentally, Glenn Beck has pushed for the last couple of days. As we pointed out when Beck accused Berwick of being a “blatant socialist” because of his “redistribute wealth” comments, health programs like Medicare and Medicaid -- which Berwick will oversee -- actually are explicitly redistributional (and incredibly popular); they redistribute wealth from those who can afford health care to those who can't. Even Fox News' Laura Ingraham has acknowledged that Berwick's comments are “right.” So there is no reason to make out that there is something unusual about what Berwick has said.
Conservative media figures have also used Berwick's call to “ration with our eyes open” to attack him, with NewsBusters touting Fox News' Jim Angle's flawed reporting on the matter. In his report, Angle claimed that Berwick “laments the amount of money spent on people in their final weeks of life” and quoted his “eyes open” statement. But Angle cropped out the portion of the statement in which Berwick noted that rationing is already occurring. Indeed, the insurance industry has readily admitted to using cost-benefit analyses in coverage decisions.