Fox News spent a good portion of today running wild with the GOP talking point that the Congressional Budget Office undermined its December 19 and 20 estimates that the Senate's health care reform bill would reduce deficits by $132 billion during the first 10 years, with continued deficit reductions in the ensuing decades.
For example, FoxNews.com advanced the Republican spin under the headline, "Senators cite new budget letter to argue health care bill will hike deficit."
Problem for Fox News: The Congressional Budget Office actually reaffirmed its support for its estimate. Sen. Max Baucus noted on the Senate floor that day that he had received an email from CBO standing behind the earlier figure and explicitly stating that the memo pushed by Republicans and Fox News did not alter the earlier estimate:
BAUCUS: CBO says, CBO and the staff at the Joint Committee on Taxation estimate that the legislation would reduce the federal budget deficit by $132 billion during the ensuing period. Next, CBO expects the legislation will reduce federal budget deficits during the decade beyond 2019 relative to those projected under current law with a total effect during that decade in a broad range of one-quarter percent and one-half percent of GDP. Of course, we know that's about $650 billion to $1.3 trillion. That's CBO. Today.
From the front page of FoxNews.com at 7:04 pm ET:
Boy, David Weigel at the Washington Independent really nails this one, as he details the on-going absurdity of the media's decision to take seriously Palin's Facebook postings (which she may or may not even write herself), and to cover them as news. To not only cover them as news, but to allow Palin to also stiff journalists with her on-going refusal to submit herself to a single question from an actual political reporter.
Instead, Palin (or somebody working for Palin), posts something on Facebook, all Wizard of Oz-like, and the Beltway press dutifully types it up as news. Because hey, that's how the political press always treats losing VP candidates, right?
You have to give Palin credit (I guess), since she's managed to create a whole new media space for herself which allows her to stay in the news without ever have to answer a single reporter's question. Of course, I'm guessing if she were a prominent Democrat and uniformly stiffed the Beltway press corps like that, she'd get hammered. (How dare she?!) But instead, reporters dutifully pass along Palin's online postings and news and pretend it's not unusual that a high-profile Republican refuses to speak with reporters.
The media's indulgence of Palin's strategy — which often results in pure stenography of press releases that may or may not have been written by her — is ridiculous, bordering on pathetic.
Sometimes a headline says it all:
Pretty good distillation of WND's worldview, isn't it? The word gays in scare-quotes, the premise that "cooperating" with gay people is fundamentally inconsistent with being a conservative.
The article begins:
A viral alarm spreading among conservatives that the American Conservative Union is accepting homosexual sponsorship for its annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington is not the first indication that the organization is stepping away from its conservative foundations, based on an invitation from CPAC to WND a few months ago.
Oh, no! Not "homosexual sponsorship"! (WND describes the sponsor in question as "GOProud, which calls itself 'the only national organization for gay conservatives and their allies.'")
Interestingly, while WND is up in arms about a group of gay conservatives co-sponsoring CPAC, the article doesn't raise any concerns about another event co-sponsor: The John Birch Society.
Which isn't to say CPAC's "cooperation with 'gays'" is WND's only complaint. They're also miffed that CPAC doesn't seem to have much interest in allowing WND's Joseph Farah to peddle his Birther conspiracy theories at the event:
Joseph Farah, WND's chief executive officer and founder, said he received an invitation from CPAC's Lisa DePasquale for WND to be a cosponsor for the 2010 event, scheduled Feb. 18-20, and he responded with a brief private e-mail suggesting an interest in discussing the issue of President Obama's eligibility to hold office at the event.
"Never heard back from her - not even a polite acknowledgement of receipt of my e-mail," he said. "But months later she offered to an interviewer from the L.A. Times, among others, that CPAC 'turned me down.'"
So to sum up: WorldNetDaily thinks CPAC should exclude gays but include Birchers and Birthers.
When you get past Howard Kurtz's weird obsession with Tiger Woods, and his clumsy attempts to link Woods and President Obama, there's another problem with his piece today about Obama's race. Take a look:
I have no doubt that no matter how deep a hole Obama digs himself, African Americans, who are already the most loyal Democratic group, will remain his fiercest defenders. The latest Gallup tracking poll puts black support of the president at 90 percent -- just where it was after the inauguration. White support for Obama, by contrast, is at 42 percent.
See what Kurtz did there? He used white opinion as his baseline. In Kurtz's formulation, the fact that white support for Obama is at only 42 percent means that Obama has dug himself a hole. But African Americans support him anyway, despite his failings. White support for Obama, in this construct, is the impartial baseline against which Kurtz assesses Obama's "true" performance as president -- he has dug himself a hole. And since African American opinion of his performance doesn't reflect that "true" assessment, African Americans will fiercely defend Obama no matter what.
Later, Kurtz wrote:
[T]his is a striking formulation:
"The only thing I cannot do is, by law I can't pass laws that say I'm just helping black folks. I'm the president of the entire United States. What I can do is make sure that I am passing laws that help all people, particularly those who are most vulnerable and most in need. That, in turn, is going to help lift up the African American community."
In other words, Obama argues, good politics generally is good black politics as well.
Well, no. Obama is talking about policy, not politics. It isn't surprising that a Washington Post reporter would conflate the two, but it is disappointing.
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.