Following Sen. Ted Kennedy's death, several conservative media figures -- including Rush Limbaugh -- have attacked Democrats for purportedly attempting to use his passing to stifle debate and enact health care reform legislation. But conservative media figures -- also including Limbaugh -- have used Kennedy's death to attack health care reform, baselessly suggesting that if reform passes, elderly cancer patients -- as Kennedy was -- will be "denied" treatments or that their treatments will be "rationed."
Limbaugh invokes Wellstone memorial -- "a frat party compared to what's going to happen" with Kennedy. On the August 27 edition of his radio program, Limbaugh said that the memorial service following the 2002 death of Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-MN) "was a frat party compared to what's going to happen here," adding that Democrats were going to turn Kennedy's memorial service into "the biggest political rally you've ever seen." As Media Matters for America has noted, the claim that Wellstone's memorial was politicized is a myth based on distortions propagated by the conservative media.
Referencing Wellstone memorial, Beck suggests Democrats "exploit[ing]" Kennedy's death. On the August 27 edition of his radio program, Glenn Beck stated that "to honor Ted Kennedy, they are going to pass health care reform. Yes. To honor, to -- not to exploit, not to capitalize on his death." Beck also referenced "the somber moment of Paul Wellstone."
Ingraham says Dems playing "death card" with Kennedy's passing. Guest-hosting the August 27 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, Laura Ingraham accused Democrats of "using" Kennedy's death to "guilt lawmakers and the public into supporting Obamacare." After referencing the "embarrassing and exploitative" Wellstone memorial, Ingraham accused Democrats of "playing the death card again."
Fox News asks: "Are Democrats Using Kennedy's Death To Stifle Town Hall Protesters?" On the August 27 edition of Your World with Neil Cavuto, Fox aired the following graphic:
Hannity: "[W]e're now being implored to get behind Obamacare because it's what Ted Kennedy would have wanted." Discussing Kennedy's death during his radio program, Sean Hannity asserted, "We've got The Wall Street Journal reporting -- and by the way, a lot of this was the politicizing of -- remember Paul Wellstone's death? You know, 'Let's do everything for Paul.' And we're now being implored to get behind Obamacare because it's what Ted Kennedy would have wanted." [The Sean Hannity Show, 8/26/09]
But conservative media figures -- including Limbaugh -- have used Kennedy's death to attack the health care bill
Limbaugh: "[T]o put his name on a health care bill that denies" care to others "is hypocrisy." On his radio show, Limbaugh stated:
LIMBAUGH: I think it would be a tremendous disservice to come up with a health care bill that we have now in the House and is floating around the Senate, the one that [President] Obama's talking about, where the government is going to decide whether people like Ted Kennedy get to go through every aspect of survival that he did. Exercise their spirit. He had a spirit for life; he wanted to live. He did not want to die.
Now, Obama has said, well, we can't look at that, because costs -- looking at somebody's spirit and will to live -- well, Ted Kennedy's spirit was to live, and he chose to exercise as many options as were available to him to prolong his life. And to put his name on a health care bill that denies that to other people and say we're doing this in his memory is hypocrisy, and it would be insulting to his memory. [Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show, 8/26/09]
Later in the program, Limbaugh stated: "I think it suffices to say that it would be hypocritical as it could be to put his name on a health care bill that forces things on people that he was not forcing on himself. I think it would be an insult to his memory."
Marr said under public option, a "bureaucrat" would have told Kennedy, "77, brain tumor, bye-bye." Guest-hosting The Lou Dobbs Show, Tom Marr stated that "the government option that is in there that the late Senator Kennedy supported would never allow you to get the Bentley health care that Senator Kennedy got provided to him by the people of the United States." He later added: "The senator used everything possible to fight for over a year, and he fought a gallant fight. That is going to be denied and rationed if they get away with this government-run option. Yes, there will be a bureaucrat saying 'No, 77, brain tumor, bye-bye.' " [United Stations Radio Networks' The Lou Dobbs Show, 8/26/09]