Wash. Post's Kornblut focused on politics of Clinton health proposal, ignored substance


A January 22 Washington Post article by staff writer Anne E. Kornblut reported on Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's (D-NY) announcement of a new health-care bill but largely ignored the substance of Clinton's proposal, focusing instead on how Clinton "gave her first public glimpse of how she will run" for president in 2008. Kornblut also cited "fears among some Democrats of being perceived as the 'Mommy Party,' " without attributing these "fears" to any specific individual.

The 1,100-word article was the former New York Times reporter's first since joining The Washington Post. Kornblut allotted just 25 words to the substance of Clinton's proposed legislation, writing: "Clinton announced that she and Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.) will sponsor legislation to expand the Children's Health Insurance Program to include more middle-class families." Kornblut's was the only Post article on Clinton's proposed health care legislation, according to a Nexis search.

In contrast, a January 22 New York Times article offered further detail:

Mrs. Clinton's proposed legislation would renew the Children's Health Insurance Program, which provides money to states to cover Americans under age 18 whose families earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid. The 10-year-old program, which now covers four million children, is to expire this fall. Representative John D. Dingell, Democrat of Michigan, plans to introduce a similar bill.

Mrs. Clinton's legislation would raise the income eligibility limit so that more children could enroll; in New York, a family of four earning $75,000 would qualify. And the bill would allow any family, as well as employers, to buy insurance.

''They're trapped between the rising costs and the broken system, and we can help them get out of that trap,'' Mrs. Clinton said.

Members of the senator's staff said they were still working out the cost of the proposal. About 8.3 million Americans under 18 do not have health care, but about 70 percent of them are already eligible for Medicaid or for the program Mrs. Clinton seeks to expand.

Additionally, Kornblut noted that "Democrats across the board are putting children at the center of their imagery and message," writing:

Earlier this month, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) made a vivid impression by assuming the House speakership surrounded by a squadron of young grandchildren. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) recently questioned whether Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, not having family of her own, could understand the stakes in Iraq.

Kornblut, however, mischaracterized Boxer's remarks to Rice. Boxer, at a January 11 Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, drew a comparison between Rice and herself, noting that neither of them will "pay a personal price" because neither has immediate family serving in Iraq, not that Rice has no "family of her own." Boxer said:

BOXER: Now, the issue is who pays the price. Who pays the price? I'm not going to pay a personal price. My kids are too old and my grandchild is too young. You're not going to pay a particular price, as I understand it, with immediate family. So who pays the price? The American military and their families.

Republicans and conservatives seized on Boxer's remarks as an attack on single, childless women. White House press secretary Tony Snow called Boxer's comments a "[g]reat leap backward for feminism," while Rice herself said: "Well, at the time I just found it a bit confusing, frankly. But in retrospect, gee, I thought single women had come further than that." As Media Matters for America noted, nationally syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh attacked Boxer for "hit[ting] below the ovaries" and "trying to lynch" Rice.

Posted In
Health Care, Health Care Reform
The Washington Post
Anne Kornblut
Hillary Clinton, 2008 Elections
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