Glenn Thrush seems to think his post yesterday about Nancy Pelosi & family planning funds is vindicated by reports that House Democrats may strip those funds from their stimulus package.
Here's Thrush today:
Apparently she has -- at the behest of President Obama.
Actually, Thrush "took some heat" for baselessly repeating bogus GOP spin, and falsely suggesting that public support for contraception funding is unpopular.
Most notably, Thrush suggested supporting funding for contraceptives would make Pelosi look like a "Bay area liberal" with a "far left agenda." In fact, backing public funding for contraceptives isn't a "far-left" position, as Thrush later acknowledged. It is a position that enjoys overwhelming public support. So overwhelming that opposing such funding could probably be described as a "far-right" position.
Thrush's post yesterday was reminiscent of the first media reports during the Terry Schiavo controversy - the ones that contained the baseless speculation that the "wedge issue" would play to the GOP's benefit. But it didn't: the American public isn't where the conservatives think they are - or where reporters think they are. That's been true for quite some time.
The fact that House Democrats may drop funding for contraceptives from their bill doesn't vindicate Thrush's lazy reporting. If it says anything at all about that reporting, it is that the credulous repetition of false right-wing spin can have an effect on public policy debates. That shouldn't be something to be proud of; it should be a reminder that reporters have a responsibility to carefully and factually assess spin - and their own assumptions - before they write their articles.
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Glenn Thrush gets awfully creative in promoting the Right's attacks on Nancy Pelosi over her support for public funding for contraceptives.
It may seem like a nothing, but Nancy Pelosi is facing one of her biggest political threats of the 111th thus far over this birth-control-in-the-stimulus thing.
Wow, really? "One of her biggest political threats of the 111th" Congress? Sounds scary. Until you remember that the 111th Congress is about three weeks old. Then it begins to look like Thrush is breathlessly hyping "a nothing" into "a something."
Drudge, along with CNN and others, are trumpeting a House GOP talking point -- ridiculing Pelosi's support of a Medicaid waiver in the stimulus package to reimburse states for contraceptives. And they they think they have a winner, a classic gays-in-the-military, Honeymoon-killing wedge issue.
Nonsense. Thrush doesn't know what House Republicans and Matt Drudge "think." They might think, as Thrush says, that in 2009, support for contraceptives is as controversial as gays-in-the-military was in 1993. Or maybe they just think they can convince reporters like Glenn Thrush that it is. If the former, they are almost certainly wrong. If the latter, it probably turned out to be easier than they ever could have hoped.
Then Thrush explains:
Third -- and most dangerous to Pelosi personally -- it undercuts her carefully crafted image as a measured centrist, playing into the right wing caricature of Pelosi as a Bay Area liberal who will abuse her power to push her far left agenda.
Thrush provides no polling to back up his suggestion that support for public funding for contraceptives would "undercut" Pelosi's "image as a measured centrist" or that it constitutes a "far left agenda." To the contrary, The National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association says such policies are extremely popular. For example, "Eighty-six percent of voters and 85 percent of Catholic voters want the government to fund programs that provide contraception to women without health insurance." (That poll -- conducted by a polling firm headed by Republican Linda DiVall -- is from 2005. It seems unlikely that public support for public funding of contraceptives has dropped from 86 percent to "far-left" status in less than four years, but if Thrush wants more recent numbers, he can do his own research.)
Finally, Thrush seems to invent out of whole cloth the idea that Pelosi's support for public policy that House Republicans disagree with constitutes an "abuse of power."
UPDATE: Thrush has updated his post, acknowledging the high public support for contraception funding.
On Hannity, speaking of President Obama's reported plan to reverse the U.S. government's Mexico City policy restricting federal funding for international family planning groups, Rush Limbaugh falsely claimed "[former President] Clinton imposed it." In fact, the Mexico City policy prohibiting the federal government from providing funds to international family planning groups that promote abortion or provide information, counseling, or referrals about abortion services in other nations was imposed by President Reagan, rescinded by Clinton, and revived by George W. Bush.
After President Bush's farewell speech, John King said of Bush's program to fight AIDS in Africa, "Any liberal will tell you it has been a dramatic success." However, progressives and health organizations have criticized the legislation that authorized the program, which originally required that 33 percent of funds be spent on abstinence-until-marriage education -- a provision the Bush administration reportedly lobbied Congress to add.
On Lou Dobbs Tonight, Lisa Sylvester uncritically reported that "[f]iscal conservatives ... argue" that a cigarette-tax increase in a House bill expanding SCHIP "will not generate enough revenue to pay for the program." However, Sylvester did not note that a CBO cost estimate of the bill found that it would be "fully offset, primarily through an increase in federal tobacco taxes." Sylvester also aired Rep. John Boehner's claim that "no verification system to speak of is contained in the bill" -- without noting that the bill does include a citizenship verification process in which states would use SCHIP applicants' names and Social Security numbers to determine whether they are eligible.
On his radio show, Rush Limbaugh falsely suggested that Planned Parenthood mainly provides abortions, saying, "You go into Planned Parenthood for an abortion, all right?" In fact, according to the Planned Parenthood website, 3 percent of its health services are abortion services.
Digby recently made a compelling argument when, trying to pinpoint moment when the Bush administration, and the larger conservative movement, lost touch with America, she pointed to the showdown surrounding Terri Schiavo in early 2005.
I would just add to her insight that the episode also represented a telling, and I'd suggest historic, tipping point for the press, as well. Having convinced themselves that Bush had won a "mandate," in 2004, despite earning the slimmest margin of re-election for a sitting president since Woodrow Wilson, reporters and pundits immediately declared the GOP's all-in on the Schiavo right-to-die story to be a brilliant strategic move.
As I noted in Lapdogs:
The Schiavo coverage began with a strikingly deferential tone with the MSM clearly awed by the Republican's culture-of-life strategy. Indeed, radical was a word the MSM all but refused to use when reporting any part of the Schiavo story, despite the fact it was being fueled by rampant far-right extremism. The controversy highlighted not only how far to the right the GOP had lunged -- a 2003 Fox News poll found just 2 percent of Americans thought the government should decide the right-to-die issue -- but it also illustrated how paralyzed the MSM had become in pointing out the obvious: that the GOP leadership often operated well outside the mainstream of American politics. Reporters, fearful of being tagged as liberal or anti-religion, politely ignored the salient fact.
The press, and especially ABC News, also seemed to do everything in its power to ignore early polling data that showed that Republicans were in the very steep minority when it came to the Schiavo controversy.
Perhaps the larger point here is that the fortunes of Bush and the Beltway press in 2005 were intertwined. So it was inevitable that when, as Digby argues, Bush began his descent with the Schiavo story, so did the media.
There's a reason why nobody ever mistook Tucker Carlson for a "policy wonk," even when he was still wearing the bow tie. Here he is making a fool of himself during a Washingtonpost.com online discussion:
Harrisburg, Pa.: I wish to please ask a question to Mr. Carlson (and Ms. Cox is free to also respond.). I saw you on MSNBC and I agree that a national health care system will increase government spending. Yet, how much would it increase costs to consumers? Are there national health insurance plans that could reduce costs to consumers, especially if, to be candid, government inefficiency can be found to be less costly that current health care administrative costs?
Tucker Carlson: With all respect, you've answered your own question: Increased government spending amouunts to an increased cost to consumers, since in the end consumers are the only source of government revenue.
Carlson doesn't seem to understand that "increased government spending" does not amount to "increased cost to consumers" if it replaces a larger amount of money that the consumers were already spending.
This really isn't all that complicated. Maybe the Post should consider replacing Carlson with someone who has some idea what he is talking about?
The Century Foundation's Niko Karvounis has a must-read piece warning that the news media could "derail health care reform":
Policy can get pretty complicated; so the public will rely on the media to help it navigate the ins and outs of the issue.
Unfortunately, reporters aren't health care policy experts. In fact, they rarely ever talk about the issue. In a December report, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that, out of 3,513 health news stories in newspapers, on TV and radio, and online between January 2007 and June 2008, health care policy made up less than 1 percent of news stories and just 27.4 percent of health-focused stories.
history shows that when health care reform efforts are actually under way, the media ignore policy in favor of more sensational stories.
During President Bill Clinton's efforts at health care reform in the 1990s, for example, media reports disproportionately focused on politics rather than policy. In their 1998 book Politics, Power, and Policymaking: The Case of Health Care Reform in the 1990s, Missouri State University professors Mark Rushefsky and Kant Patel found that that in 1993 and 1994 -- the height of public debate over Clinton's plan -- the New York Times reported just 257 stories about policy considerations (proposed reforms and solutions, analyses of options) and a whopping 549 on politics (personalities, disagreement, partisanship). When the nation's health care system was at stake, spats received more coverage than substance.
The Hill reports this morning that in 1992 "Pennsylvania Gov. Bob Casey (D) was barred from speaking at the DNC because of his anti-abortion rights stance."
This is a common claim, but it's completely false.
There were no fewer than eight speakers at the 1992 convention who opposed abortion rights. Therefore, it cannot be the case that Casey was barred because of his stance on abortion.
That really shouldn't be difficult to understand, but those interested in additional details can find them here.
Here's the short version:
1) Casey wasn't "denied" a speaking spot; that suggests he was entitled to one. He wasn't; nobody is (save, I suppose, the nominees for president and vice president and the convention officers.)
2) There is scant evidence from contemporaneous reporting that anyone other than Bob Casey thought it would be a good idea for Bob Casey to speak at the convention.
3) Casey had not only refused to endorse Bill Clinton, he had actively suggested that the party should choose a different nominee at the convention.
4) It logically cannot be the case that Casey was denied a speaking slot because of his views on abortion, given that severals speakers shared his views.
5) Casey planned to use his convention speech -- the possiblity of which apparently existed only in his own fantasies -- for a single purpose: attacking the Democratic Party.
That's why Casey didn't speak at the 1992 convention: because nobody wanted him to, because he refused to endorse the party's nominee, and because he planned to devote his entire speech to attacking the Democratic party; the speech didn't include the words "Clinton" or "Gore" a single time.
Finally, those who insist on pointing to Casey's lack of a speaking role at the 1992 Democratic convention as evidence of the party's lack of inclusiveness are invited to produce an example of a Republican convention speaker who refused to endorse the nominee and spent his entire speach attacking the GOP's position on abortion without saying a single word in praise or support of the party's nominee.
They can't do it, because there is no such example.
Resuming his attacks on the poor, Bill Cunningham stated that "[w]e're about the only country in the world with fat poor people" and that "the poor community, so to speak ... have cell phones, they have pagers, they have telephones, they have cars, they have HDTV, and they have those things because they spend no money on food, because it's all given to them for nothing." He added: "Why would a grocery store open in the poor community when everyone gets fed free and they eat too much?"