Luntz's Fox News focus group participants echo Fox News talking points


During Fox News' January 19 coverage of Massachusetts' Senate race election returns, Fox News' Frank Luntz conducted a focus group with Bay State voters, many of whom were critical of Democratic actions on health care reform and other issues. The focus group participants' remarks echoed talking points frequently advanced on Fox News.

Participant: Dems "trying to shove this bill" down our throats. A voter who said he voted for President Obama and Senator-elect Scott Brown (R) stated: "I wanted to send a message. I'm a lifelong Democrat, and I think that they've been trying to shove this bill, and this health care bill, right down our throats."

Fox News on shoving health care down voters' throats. From the January 14 edition of Fox News' Hannity (accessed from the Nexis database):

SARAH PALIN (Fox News contributor): I think there is such a disconnect from those on Capitol Hill with the voters today. And we're going to see some evidence of that with the upcoming elections, with these midterms.

I think we're going to see a shift in the Massachusetts race that's coming up here shortly, in a bit over a week. Win, lose, or draw, the conservative candidate running there, I think is going to send a very strong message that this status quo, even in Massachusetts, the status quo of just accepting the big growth of government and health care takeover measures that it seems Capitol Hill wants to cram down our throats today. Things are going to start changing. Thank God.

From the January 6 edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck (via Nexis):

GLENN BECK (host): Desperate people do desperate things to stay alive. The Democratic Party, and quite honestly the Republican Party as well with their progressive ideas, are looking at their poll numbers. They saw Chris Dodd's poll numbers. They see the tea party numbers. They saw the 9/12 turnout in D.C. And they see the response to health care and the debacle that they're jamming down our throats. They are becoming desperate.

From the December 1, 2009, edition of Hannity (via Nexis):

SEAN HANNITY (host): Last week in a poll, 18 percent people are against health care, Lanny, and your Democratic friends keep ramming it down America's throat.

From the September 23, 2009, edition of On the Record with Greta Van Susteren:

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN (host): Democrats say it does too little. Republicans say it does too much. The health care war is now in high gear, zeroing in on a bill proposed by the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Max Baucus. In all, senators have already proposed more than 500 changes to Senator Baucus's bill. And as the nasty fight continues, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid drops a bomb today, making an ominous threat. He may use nuclear option, reconciliation, to shove this bill through!

Participant: Public sector being funded by shrinking private sector. A voter who said he voted for Obama and Brown stated: "It's a growing dynamic of a growing public sector that's being funded by a shrinking public -- a shrinking private sector, and the health care bill only exacerbates that."

Fox News fearmongers about private sector crowding-out. From the January 14 edition of Hannity (via Nexis):

HANNITY: When you say those that get it, that's interesting to me. Because it was interesting how conservatives stood up and supported Doug Hoffman while the establishment candidate, Dede Scozzafava, you know what? They said no.

Will you pick and choose -- even if somebody is picked by the establishment if there's a more conservative candidate, more in sync with your values, are you going to be willing to step out every time and go for the conservative?

PALIN: I sure will. I don't hesitate to do that. I've never hesitated to kind of bucking the trend or the tide.

HANNITY: Going rogue?

PALIN: Going rogue, yes, in order to not just go with the flow and do what maybe some head honchos want, because they're not always right.

The people of America, though, their voice is growing louder and louder when they're saying no to government takeover of our health care system to allowing 1/6 of our economy in the private sector to be shoved into the government's hands.

An issue like that, no. People are saying whether the establishment likes it or not, the people don't like it and a representative form of government demands that it is literally a representative hearing the voice of the people and implementing what their will is.

From the November 1, 2009, edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday (via Nexis):

WALLACE: You have made no secret of the fact you oppose the public option, government-run health insurance to compete with private insurers. With tens of millions of Americans still uninsured, do you think that the government has any moral obligation to find some way to cover them?

RUSH LIMBAUGH (radio talk host): There is a way to insure the uninsured without doing any of what we're doing. If that were the objective, then I'd be full for it.

This is not about insuring the uninsured. This is not about health care. This is about stealing one-sixth of the U.S. private sector and putting it under the control of federal government.

And when they get this health care bill, if they do, that's the easiest, fastest way for them to be able to regulate every aspect of human behavior, because it will all have some related cost to health care -- what you drive, what you eat, where you live, what you do.

From the June 21, 2009, edition of Fox News Sunday:

WALLACE: They say they want a government plan that would compete with -- on a level playing field -- and I can see you laughing already -- but compete on a level playing field and offer real competition, and it would help get the private insurers to clean up their act.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI): With 1,300 private insurers. Let me put it this way. Having the government compete against the private sector -- it's kind of like my 7-year-old daughter's lemonade stand competing against McDonald's.

It's the government being the referee and player in the same game. Don't just listen to me. Listen to all the actuaries -- and the actuaries -- that tell us that the government public plan option quickly becomes a government-run monopoly.

What happens is it is impossible for the private sector to be able to compete fairly with the public sector. And what ends up happening is that the public sector plan pays so much lower prices that it drives prices up for the private sector and it forces firms to dump their employees under the public plan.

Participant suggested Obama governed too far to the left. A voter who said that he voted for Obama and Brown stated: "I'm an independent and I always believe that government should be ruled from the center, and the last several years, including the last year, there's been that ten percent to the far left and that ten percent to the far right and I want a change."

Fox News on Obama governing too far left. From the December 23, 2009, edition of Hannity (via Nexis):

MARK STEYN: Congressman, you voted with your party I think something like 82, 84 percent of the time while you were in Congress. So what's driven you to make that dramatic leap across the aisle?

PARKER GRIFFITH, ALABAMA CONGRESSMAN: Well, that's not -- Mark, thanks, by the way, and merry Christmas. But we really didn't vote 80-plus percent of the time with the Democrats on major issues. On every major issue, I voted against the stimulus, against cap and trade, against the bailout funds, against this health care bill.

STEYN: Right.

GRIFFITH: I have watched over the last year a far, far leaning left- wing party take the Democratic Party so far to the left that most moderate and conservative Democrats can't even recognize it.

From the September 2, 2009, edition of Hannity (via Nexis):

HANNITY: You know, when you put all of that together, is the country changing? Is their view of the president changing? Do they see him perhaps as far more radical than he campaigned?

ROVE: I think that's a big part of it. They are seeing, between the stimulus, the health care bill, the omnibus spending bill, between his budget with predicting doubling the budget -- the deficit in five years and tripling in 10, all of these have made him appear as what he really is, which is a very strong, far left liberal in the Democratic Party and that's not how he campaigned.

Fox News has frequently characterized Obama as a radical, far-left politician.

Participant: World envies our health care system. A voter, who said he didn't vote for either Obama or Democratic challenger Martha Coakley in the Massachusetts Senate race, stated: "Kill health care. You know, there's nothing wrong with our system. It needs some improvement but it's a good system that the world envies."

Fox News says U.S. health system is best in the world. Fox News personalities have also claimed that America has the best health care system in the world. For instance:

  • On December 14, 2009, Hannity said of health care reform: "I never thought you had to overhaul the whole system that a lot of people found to be the best in the world." On November 20, 2009, Hannity said: "Yes. $500 billion in new taxes. $500 billion in Medicare cuts. Do you think the average person watching tonight has any clue of how this will destroy the best health care system in the world?" On October 26, 2009, Hannity said that health care reform is "going to destroy the best health-care system in the world."
  • Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer said on the November 23, 2009, edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier (via Nexis):

KRAUTHAMMER: But there is the sense that we have had ever since the middle of the year that this is an attempt not to streamline our healthcare system, which is what it needs. Ours is the best in the world, but it is inefficient. There are a lot of inefficiencies accumulated over decades. What you want is simplicity, to strip away the inefficiencies. This will add on to them and it's going to make it utterly incoherent.

  • On September 21, 2009, Beck said: "We're talking about transforming the best healthcare system in the world now. It's flawed, yes, but it's still the best."

Participant: "It's about the entire spending, the process, the way they're running things, everything." A voter, who indicated he didn't vote for either Obama or Brown, claimed that the Massachusetts vote is "about the entire spending, the process, the way they're running things, everything."

Fox News on Obama administration spending. Fox News has repeatedly pushed talking points and false claims about the Obama administration's spending.

Participant complains about "public health option" and that "there's no malpractice reform in there." A participant who said he voted for both Obama and Coakley stated that there are many physicians who "are very angry" with health care reform:

PARTICIPANT: I'm a physician in this state and I could tell you that many physicians are very angry, too, at what the Obama health care has been doing. First of all, there's no malpractice reform in there at all. There's nothing that changes the Medicare fix for physicians.

And if he's going to have a public health option in there as well that's modeled after the Medicare model, then we're in big trouble.

Fox News on malpractice reform. Fox has frequently pushed malpractice reform as a cost saver.

  • On the October 13, 2009, edition of On the Record, Wall Street Journal editorial writer Stephen Moore said: "[Y]ou know the big three money savers were not in this bill. There's no medical malpractice reform."
  • On the September 17, 2009, edition of Special Report, contributor Mort Kondracke said: "There is a lot of other things wrong with the bill, including the fact that it has no medical malpractice reform."
  • On December 16, 2009, Hannity said: "I support reform of health care, Juan. I support medical savings accounts, portability, tort reform."
  • On December 14, 2009, Hannity further said: "I have some ideas. Portability is a one, tort reform is another. Medical savings accounts, tax cuts for people that don't have health care. I never thought you had to overhaul the whole system that a lot of people found to be the best in the world."

Fox News on public option. Fox News has frequently attacked or forwarded falsehoods against the public option.

Fox News Channel
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.