Yesterday, a variety of progressives -- from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Health Care for America Now to this blog -- criticized NBC and the Wall Street Journal for a change in the wording of their poll questions about the public plan for health care reform.
As I explained last night, the NBC/WSJ poll dropped the word "choice," and shifted the focus of the question from the impact a public plan would have on consumers to the impact it would have on insurance companies.
NBC's Chuck Todd claimed that the word "choice" made the original question "biased," but didn't explain how.
Feeling the heat, NBC released a statement last night from the pollsters who conduct their poll. But that statement did not explain what was wrong with the original wording, or address the change in focus of the question.
Now NBC says its next poll will include both wordings:
NBC's White House correspondent Chuck Todd told the Huffington Post on Wednesday afternoon that pollsters Bill McInturf and Peter Hart will ask respondents two questions regarding the public plan for their September study.
Todd's decision to put both questions in the mix also should placate a host of progressive health care proponents who were critical of the NBC pollsters.
On Wednesday, Todd defended the decision to drop "choice" from the survey, calling the word a "trigger" that sent a certain "message" to respondents. And while he argued that the revised way of asking the question was "very neutral" he admitted that the idea of putting both options side by side was "something we wanted to test."
So far as I've seen, neither Todd nor the pollsters nor anybody else connected with the poll has yet explained how describing a plan that gives people a choice as giving people a "choice" is "biased" -- or why the new wording was better.
Given the decision to reinstate the choice wording, it seems safe to assume we'll never see such an explanation.
Tom DeLay on Hardball: "I would like the president to produce his birth certificate."
MSNBC's Monica Novotny: "Confusion in the health care debate: Should the WH blame town halls, the GOP, conservative media outlets, or itself?"
Notice what's missing from that list of possible culprits? Yep: MSNBC and other media outlets. Lousy health care reporting hasn't been limited to just conservative media outlets.
Even today, MSNBC has told us over and over again that there is confusion, and speculated about why there is confusion. What hasn't MSNBC done? Spent any significant time giving people detailed, factual explanations of health care. Instead, we've gotten stuff like this.
Last week, Media Matters for America documented that JC Penney was one of several companies that recently advertised on Rush Limbaugh's hate-filled radio show, despite having been included on a 2006 list of advertisers that reportedly requested that none of their ads be broadcast during Air America programs.
According to a tip from a Media Matters reader, JC Penney is now stating that its "company policy is to run no advertising on any programming that is political or religious in nature - and that includes the Rush Limbaugh show."
Media Matters has the audio of a JC Penney ad that aired on New York's WABC-AM at the beginning of Limbaugh's May 29 show at 12:06 p.m. ET.
Here's the text of the email JC Penney reportedly sent:
Thank you for contacting us online.
Our company policy is to run no advertising on any programming that is political or religious in nature - and that includes the Rush Limbaugh show. We have a record of supporting candidates ? Democrat and Republican -- that have an interest in issues that are important to the retail industry.
We welcome comments and suggestions from our customers that call matters to our attention and enable us to address each issue. Customer concerns are always forwarded to the proper areas responsible for the issue. Your comments are a great help toward increasing satisfaction of all JCPenney customers.
As a company servicing half of America's families for over 100 years, our customers have come to know JCPenney as their trusted retail partner.
At JCPenney, what matters to you, matters to us. Customers like you are our most valuable resource for creating the optimal shopping experience.
Thank you for taking the time to share your input. We look forward to
serving you in the future.
JCP.com Customer Service
Every Day Matters
On Monday, we posted the text of a similar email apparently sent by Home Depot asserting that Home Depot doesn't "support the Rush Limbaugh radio show." Media Matters posted audio of a Home Depot ad that did, in fact, air during Limbaugh's show.
He's been chasing his tail over the whole Nazi-mini-mob connection for more than a week now and honestly, it's sorta sad to watch.
TWS is peeved that anyone would think that right-wingers protesting health reform would brandish Nazi posters and talk about Hitler. TWS's frustration is palpable. (Building a political movement around Hitler posters? Not such a good idea.) But it's obviously misdirected. If deep thinkers at places like TWS think it's wrong to bring swastika posters to town hall rallies, than why doesn't TWS condemn it?
And more importantly, if TWS thinks only "idiots" talk about Hitler as part of our national discourse, why doesn't anybody get up the nerve to call out Rush Limbaugh when he does it? I asked this question last week and never did get a response, so I'll ask it again: Has anyone at TWS condemned Limbaugh, either in print or online, for recently equating the Obama White House with a Nazi organization? Anyone?
We'll see if McCormack can follow this rather obvious logic: If the most-listened-to conservative in the country openly refers to Obama and his administration as being Nazi-like, and then nobody in the Right says boo about it, guess what? Mini-mob members (and self-identified "conservative" "Republicans") take that as a green light to bring Nazi posters and yell "Heil Hitler" at rallies.
So until TWS gets up the nerve to, y'know actually disagree with Rush Limbaugh, save us the lectures about how nobody on the right would dare evoke Nazi and Hitler. It's laughable, because the guy who runs the GOP does it all the time.
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."