This morning, NBC News' First Read reports that the "rampant misinformation" conservatives have been flooding the zone with is deceiving the American public about the health care reform plans of President Obama and congressional Democrats. Wonder of wonders, they even admit that they are partially at fault, stating that "credible messengers" have been "using the media to get some of this misinformation out there," which they say should "worry… the news media that have been covering the story":
*** Rampant misinformation: One of the reasons why the public appears so wary about Obama's health-care plans is due to all the misinformation out there. Majorities in the poll believe the plans would give health insurance coverage to illegal immigrants (55%), would lead to a government takeover of the health system (54%), and would use taxpayer dollars to pay for women to have abortions (50%) -- all claims that nonpartisan fact-checkers say are untrue about the legislation that has emerged so far from Congress. Additionally, 45% think the reform proposals would allow the government to make decisions about when to stop providing medical care for the elderly, which also isn't true. When you have nearly half of the public believing that the government is willing to pull the plug on grandma, you're in trouble.
*** FOX vs. CNN/MSNBC: Here's another way to look at the misinformation: In our poll, 72% of self-identified FOX News viewers believe the health-care plan will give coverage to illegal immigrants, 79% of them say it will lead to a government takeover, 69% think that it will use taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions, and 75% believe that it will allow the government to make decisions about when to stop providing care for the elderly. But it would be incorrect to suggest that this is ONLY coming from conservative viewers who tune in to FOX. In fact, 41% of CNN/MSNBC viewers believe the misinformation about illegal immigrants, 39% believe the government takeover stuff, 40% believe the abortion misperception, and 30% believe the stuff about pulling the plug on grandma. What's more, a good chunk of folks who get their news from broadcast TV (NBC, ABC, CBS) believe these things, too. This is about credible messengers using the media to get some of this misinformation out there, not as much about the filter itself. These numbers should worry Democratic operatives, as well as the news media that have been covering this story.
Surely, in the wake of these results, NBC News must be redoubling its efforts to ensure that its own airwaves are not conduits for such misinformation, right? And yet, from the same Nightly News broadcast in which those poll results were detailed:
NBC News correspondent Tom Costello falsely reported that the health care income surtax in the House tri-committee bill could mean a surcharge of $7,000 for those "with a taxable income of more than $350,000" and a surcharge of $15,000 for those "earning $500,000." In fact, since the surcharge rates established in the bill would apply only to the portion of a household's income that exceeds $350,000 or $500,000, respectively, families making between $350,000 and $500,000 would not pay more than $1,500, and families making between $500,000 and $1 million would not pay more than $9,000.
Oops. I guess they still aren't "worr[ied]" enough to do some basic fact-checking before they air their stories. Maybe next time?
More from Andrea Mitchell:
Medicare has not controlled costs to the satisfaction of the fiscal hawks. And people worried about the deficit say that Medicare is the worst possible paradigm for a new, expanded health care system.
Hmmm. Do people who are really worried about the deficit say this -- or do people who say they are worried about the deficit say this?
See, Medicare has very low overhead costs, and Medicare costs have grown at a much slower rate than costs for private insurance. To the extent that the Medicare system faces financing trouble, it is largely a result of a growth in health care costs, not of a flaw in Medicare itself.
And the people who Mitchell is referring to oppose health care reforms that would do the most to control skyrocketing health care costs -- things like single-payer, or a public option. And as Paul Krugman recently noted, "There has been a lot of publicity about Blue Dog opposition to the public option, and rightly so: a plan without a public option to hold down insurance premiums would cost taxpayers more than a plan with such an option."
So, aside from her apparent lack of understanding of why Medicare costs have increased, Mitchell is unjustifiably crediting critics of reform with being "worried about the deficit." We don't know that they're actually worried about the deficit, or capable of understanding how it can be reduced. All we know is that they say they are worried about the deficit. So that's all Mitchell should say; anything else is mind-reading.
Actually, that's not quite right: She should also note that they oppose the very proposals that would do the most to keep the deficit in check.
(Also worth noting: It is not the case, as Mitchell suggests, that "people worried about the deficit" are united in the belief that Medicare would make a poor model for health care reform.)
From an August 19 Politico article:
Already, twenty companies have agreed to pull advertisements from Glenn Beck's television show, within weeks of the Fox host calling Obama "a racist" and saying the president "has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture."
Now, Farmers Insurance can be added to that list, a Farmers spokesperson confirms to POLITICO.
"We advertise on Fox News Channel which places our ads in the Network programming, and we ceased placing on Glenn Beck a week ago," said the spokesperson.
Just because advertisers pull ads from Beck's show doesn't mean the network will lose any money.
A Fox News spokesperson told the Daily News yesterday that "advertisers referenced have all moved their spots from Beck to other programs on the network so there has been no revenue lost."
ColorOfChange.org, an African-American online political organization, has been targeting advertisers, while others, like RedState defend Beck in the midst of this boycott.
Andrea Mitchell to Sen. Bernie Sanders, moments ago:
"Why is this so important? Is it better to have nothing than to have a plan that does not include the public option?"
It seems to me that framing -- a choice between nothing and what liberals want -- is common, while conservatives don't face such questions in the health care debate.
So here's a challenge for Andrea Mitchell: The next time you interview a Ben Nelson or a Joe Lieberman or a Mary Landrieu or a Chuck Grassley, ask them "Is it better to have nothing than to have a plan that includes the public option."
The right-wing blogoshere remains a joke because it's led by dopes. (Simple answers to simple questions, right?) It's led by people like Andrew Breitbart who launched a site earlier this year, Big Hollywood, in hopes of leading conservatives out of the Internet wilderness. Supposedly, Breitbart got it. He got the blogosphere and pop culture and the future of mass communication, and he was going to help the Noise Machine play catch-up.
But it turns out Andrew Breitbart is just another right-wing conspiracy loon who couldn't get published anywhere that employed a fact-checker. Andrew Breitbart, as he proves week after week, is sorta nuts, which means the Rightroots movement will remain stuck in neutral as long as people like him are at the helm.
Behold the wonder as Andrew (call-me-Kenneth-Gladney) Breitbart explains how the world really works:
UPDATED: Here, a conservative writer laments Breitbart's constant embrace of (fictional) victimhood.
From the August 19 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
Goldberg actually scores extra points for hypocrisy because he embraces a blatant double standard while accusing others of having a double standard [emphasis added].
Now, I'm not asking you to do this so that you might be able to see through the glare of Obama's halo or the outlines of the media's staggering double standard when it comes to covering this White House. Rather, it is to grasp that the Obama administration has been astoundingly incompetent.
Lashing out at the town hall protesters, playing the race card, whining about angry white men and whispering ominously about right-wing militias is almost always a sign of liberalism's weakness - a failure of the imagination.
How has the Obama administration played "the race card" during the health care debate? Goldberg, as is his firm tradition of never actually practicing journalism, never bothers to explain or detail. He just likes the way the accusation sounds. Conservatives love to tar the other side by suggesting they have a habit of "playing the race card" and that it makes them weak and untrustworthy. Right-wingers like Goldberg can't stand it when folks start "playing the race card."
Except when Glenn Beck does it.
Except when Glenn Beck claims Obama has a deep seated hatred for white people and when Beck calls Obama a "racist." When Beck recent unfurled that shocking race-card claim, Goldberg (a frequent guest on Beck's show) shifted into apologist mode and quickly explained to National Review readers why it was perfectly acceptable. The way Goldberg saw it, if Goldberg thought the President of the United States was a racist, than he ought to say so. If Beck thought the incendiary claim was true, than Beck practically owed it to his fans to play the race card. Hard.
So to review: Goldberg concocted his claim the White House was "playing the race card" and then condemned the phantom ploy. This, just weeks after Goldberg defended Beck's race-based smear of Obama.
Great work, National Review.
UPDATED: Don't know if Goldberg is still on his comical search for Nazi and Hitler posters, references, etc. among town hall mini-mob members (he claims they don't exist), but if he is, he might want to check this latest viral sensation. And yes, she's a "conservative" "Republican."
By insisting on a government-run plan, liberals have played right into the hands of Republicans who aim to defeat any reform by mischaracterizing it as a government takeover.
Here's the thing: If Republicans are going to try to defeat any reform by mischaracterizing it as a government takeover, any reform you offer can be said to play into their hands. Their willingness to mischaracterize what you propose means that it doesn't matter what you actually propose; they'll mischaracterize it as a government takeover regardless.
Pearlstein's argument is blame-the-victim nonsense that is typical of the way the media has approached decades of Republican lies. Sure, they'll say, Republicans and the media distorted Al Gore's comments throughout the 2000 election -- but he shouldn't have given them the opening by being imprecise. Nonsense. People who are willing to lie about you and make things up don't need an opening to do so.
But reporters would rather blame the victim than acknowledge who is really to blame: Politicians who spread falsehoods, and the media who repeat them or do a lousy and ineffectual job of correcting them.
Maybe Pearlstein will understand if I put it this way: By Pearlstein's logic, his column opposing a public plan gives me an opening to point out that he's secretly on the payroll of health insurance companies who oppose a public plan.
Except I just made that up. Why would Pearlstein blame himself for something I made up?
From Times blogger, and Laura Bush's former flak, Andrew Malcolm [emphasis added]:
Now that they've seen Paris together this summer, you can also scratch Arizona's Grand Canyon off the Obama family's list of must-see sites.
The Chicago clan spent a little more than three hours Sunday not hiking but looking out at the large hole in the ground created by the Colorado River over more years even than Joe Biden served in the U.S. Senate. (See video below, much shorter than three hours.)
That kind of snide, derogatory language seems to be way out of bounds for a mainstream news outlet, especially considering Malcolm is a devoted critic of the Obama White House, and that the right-wing is pushing the claim that Obama is a corrupt Chicago pol.
Wednesday's New York Times article about the possibility of Democrats pursuing health care reform without Republican cooperation contains this passage:
The Democratic shift may not make producing a final bill much easier. The party must still reconcile the views of moderate and conservative Democrats worried about the cost and scope of the legislation with those of more liberal lawmakers determined to win a government-run insurance option to compete with private insurers.
Gee, reading that, you'd never know that Kent Conrad admits his co-op plan wouldn't do much to bring down costs, would you? Or that inclusion of a public plan -- which the conservatives are balking at -- would lower costs?
In fact, nothing in the article so much as hints at either of those things.
Just another way the media gives conservatives credit for wanting to control costs, even as they oppose policies that would actually do it -- and, thus, stack the deck against a public plan.