Reporting on Sarah Palin's response to Politifact naming her claim that Democratic health care bills contain a "death panel" the 2009 "Lie of the Year," Politico's Ben Smith suggests that it's possible that this has all been a big misunderstanding:
She was talking about, she now says, the Medicare Advisory Board, in combination with forecasted declines in Medicare spending:
In the haze of confusion over this issue, some of Palin's defenders had equated her words with a measure, since dropped, to provide of end-of-life counseling.
Contrary to Smith's suggestion, back in September, when asked what Palin was referring to when she said that under reform, "Obama's 'death panel' " would "decide" whether her parents or her son Trig, who has Down syndrome, were "worthy of health care," Palin spokeswoman Meghan Stapleton responded in an email to ABC's Jake Tapper: "From HR3200 p. 425 see 'Advance Care Planning Consultation'."
That is, of course, the very provision serial health care misinformer Betsy McCaughey had referred to in claiming that the House health care reform bill would "absolutely require" end-of-life counseling for seniors "that will tell them how to end their life sooner." The media subsequently debunked McCaughey and Palin's claims more than 40 times.
Either Palin's own spokesperson was caught up in that same "haze of confusion"... or Palin is cynically changing her definitions in an attempt to preserve her credibility.
Oh, and the Medicare Advisory Board isn't a "death panel" either.
UPDATE: Smith responds, calling my argument "pretty convincing."
From The Fox Nation:
And for all the heated rhetoric being thrown at him [President Obama] these days -- socialist, sellout, soporific, yadda yadda yadda -- I don't think anyone has accused him of a racial approach to politics. People want to know what he's doing about unemployment and health care and climate change. In a very real sense, he seems to have transcended race.
(I was going to make a Tiger Woods analogy here, but at the moment that seems like a decidedly bad idea.)
Kurtz isn't the first media figure to inexplicably link Obama and Woods:
And, of course, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd strained to find similarity between Tiger Woods and White House social secretary Desiree Rogers, coming up with some drivel about both of them being entitled swans.
I'm still waiting for a media figure to compare a white political figure to Tiger. Maybe John Ensign? Both (allegedly) offered hush money to keep affairs quiet. But I guess some journalists think that's a bit of a stretch -- not like the obvious similarities between Woods and Rogers.
Here's today's news headline:
GOP unlikely to derail health care passage
Gee, you don't say.
What's so odd is that the headline is indicative of the way the press has portrayed the GOP throughout the health reform legislative process. Meaning, the Beltway press keeps pretending the GOP is a player, that the GOP is relevant to the health care reform. That the GOP could somehow "derail" the legislation.
The truth for months, of course, has been that Republicans members of Congress have been spectators, albeit heckling spectators. The GOP is in such a deep minority status that members don't have the votes to "derail" anything, even if virtually every member opposed health care reform, which is the case.
Yet the the press (cue USA Today) keeps pretending the GOP is right in the thick of things. That the GOP is somehow engaged in the process. That GOP leaders are knee-deep in negotiations. Instead, the GOP, having adopted a radical obstructionist strategy, has offered no tangible support and no real alternatives. Like I said, legislatively Republicans are bystanders in the health care debate. (Just like they were with the stimulus bill.)
So why do reporters pretend otherwise?
The latest setbacks:
A Congressional Research Service report commissioned by the House Judiciary Committee says ACORN hasn't violated any federal regulations the last five years.
The report, released by Judiciary Chairman John Conyers' (D-Mich.) staff Tuesday evening, also reports that the undercover filmmakers that allegedly caught employees of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now breaking the law may have violated state law in their filming operation.
Separately Tuesday, a New York federal judge rejected a motion from the Justice Department to reconsider a decision that ruled a bill that stopped funding for ACORN as an unconstitutional bill of attainder.
Alabama slammer switch stuns Dems
Did the announcement from conservative Alabama Congressman Parker Griffith that he was switching to the GOP "stun" Democrats? Not according to the Politico article it didn't. The piece doesn't quote a single person, either on or off the record, expressing shock at the move by Griffith, who has regularly voted against the Obama White House this year.
Politico can't find any Dems to say they're stunned by the Griffith move, but of course that doesn't stop Politico from announcing that, y'know, Dems are stunned by the Griffith move.
In fact, check out these Politico passages which completely undercut the headline [emphasis added]:
"I don't think one party switch means much of anything, quite frankly," said [former Dem Rep., Martin] Frost. "I'm sure the DCCC would rather no one switch, but one switch is not a big deal."
"For people who have been working with his office and watching him, it wasn't a big surprise," remarked one senior Democratic leadership aide. "You connect the dots and it's not a big surprise."
Question: Do Politico headline writers even read the articles first?
UPDATED: The Politico headline has been changed:
Alabama slammer: Dems fret
Mitchell also attacks "lesbian chick" Rachel Maddow, and says Ugandans are "more than free to leave" if they disapprove of the proposed law.
"Molotov Mitchell"'s December 23 video commentary:
From the Fox Nation:
Once again undermining the supposed sharp distinction between Fox's opinion and news shows, Bret Baier took time during his nightly "Political Grapevine" segment to inform his viewers that "some interesting ornaments" had been "spotted on the White House Christmas tree in the Blue Room." Now according to New York Magazine, the Christmas tree in question holds as many as 800 ornaments. So presumably there are plenty of "interesting ornaments" in the bunch. Baier took his audience on a virtual tour of the Blue Room tree:
BAIER: They include the communist leader Mao; drag queen -- celebrity queen -- Hedda Lettuce, who boasts on her Web site about her ornament being featured in the White House; and Mt. Rushmore with a familiar face [President Obama] added.
So out of 800 ornaments, Baier decided to tell his viewers about three of them. And it just so happens that these three ornaments fit nicely into three of Fox News' favorite activities: red-baiting, gay-baiting, and suggesting that Obama is arrogant.
Unfortunately for Baier, his gotcha story seems to be missing the gotcha. Here were the very next words out of his mouth:
BAIER: The First Lady's office says local community groups were asked to decorate hundreds of ornaments but that they are unaware of these specific decorations.
Baier offered no evidence contradicting this. So why, exactly, does he think the story still qualifies as news?
It should also be noted that both Benjamin Carlson of The Atlantic and Allahpundit of HotAir (a conservative blog run by Michelle Malkin) think that the picture of Mao is actually an image of an Andy Warhol print of Mao.
As Allahpundit further observes, "[I]sn't the most likely explanation here that they [the White House] really didn't know what was on the ornaments? Why court PR trouble with a deliberate provocation via something this trivial?"
Incidentally, as Baier noted, these three ornaments were first reported by none other than the crackerjack staff at Andrew Breitbart's BigGovernment.com.
Earlier that day, Breitbart's crew posted its big scoop:
Why let a holiday season come between the White House and making some political statements? The White House pegged controversial designer Simon Doonan to oversee the Christmas decorations for the White House. Mr. Doonan, who is creative director of Barney's New York has often caused a stir with his design choices. Like his naughty yuletide window display of Margaret Thatcher as a dowdy dominatrix and Dan Quayle as a ventriloquist's dummy. For this year's White House, he didn't disappoint.
To paraphrase the old adage, from their keyboards to Fox News' lips.
Previously, Fox News' Glenn Beck called Breitbart -- who has a long history of smearing progressives -- one of the "great journalists of our time" for helping two right-wing activists selectively release highly edited, secretly recorded video of ACORN employees. Breitbart also served as one of Beck's major sources for his witch hunt against former White House adviser Van Jones.
But that's just an opinion show. It's not like Andrew Breitbart is setting Fox's news agenda.