After waging an epic misinformation campaign during the debate over the Affordable Care Act and throughout the year following its signing, right-wing media have continued attacking the health care law, claiming that it is the "final nail in the coffin of this country" and that it "makes everyone a slave." As the two-year anniversary of the health care law approaches, Media Matters looks back at the right-wing media's latest attacks on health care reform.
The Right-Wing Media's Unhinged Health Care Attacks Enter The Second Year
Rush Limbaugh Claimed Health Care Reform Law Is "The Final Nail In The Coffin Of This Country." On the April 26, 2011, edition of his show, Rush Limbaugh claimed that Democrats "are hiding and delaying the final nail in the coffin of this country till after 2012, and that's Obamacare. And that is the final nail in the coffin. In the country as we've known it. Once that implements in full, then all kinds of your freedoms -- our freedoms are in that great peril. Economic and others." [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 4/26/11, via Media Matters]
Limbaugh: "Health Care Is The IV To Total State Control Over A Population. Hitler Knew It." On the May 18, 2011, edition of his show, Limbaugh claimed the health care reform law is "the eventual end of private sector health insurance companies." Limbaugh continued:
LIMBAUGH: It is well known -- authoritarians, totalitarians throughout history have known -- controlling the health care of a society is -- that's like the IV. You go in the hospital, they put an IV in your arm, it's there in case they need to get in, in an emergency to do something else, they've already got the pathway in. Health care is the IV to total state control over a population. Hitler knew it, the Nazis. It's one of the first things that they tried. That will be the Media Tweak of the Day. Although it's nothing new. We've said it before. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 5/18/11, via Media Matters]
Fox Regular Jonathan Hoenig: Health Care Reform Law "Makes Everyone A Slave." On the November 14, 2011, edition of Fox Business' now-defunct show Freedom Watch, regular Fox News guest Jonathan Hoenig claimed:
HOENIG: For decades [the health care system] has been dominated by programs like Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP. And all this proposal does -- all Obamacare does is essentially put the coffin in the private health care industry in this country. It establishes health care as a right, which makes everyone a slave and ruins it for all. [Fox Business, Freedom Watch, 11/14/11, via Media Matters]
Fox's Gretchen Carlson: "Can The President Scare The American People Into His Plan For Saving?" On the April 15, 2011, edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson claimed that "there's [also] concern about whether or not President Obama is stoking some fear in some of the comments he's been making." Fox & Friends then aired a segment of an ABC News interview with Obama while on-screen text accused Obama of "Playing on the Public's Fear." Later, Carlson asked: "Can the president scare the American people into his plan for saving?" After playing portions of Obama's interview, Carlson asked, "So will fear sell you on the idea of raising taxes?"
[Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/15/11, via Media Matters]
Fox's Neil Cavuto Repeatedly Asserted Democrats Are Using Health Care "Scare Tactics." During the May 7, 2011, edition of his show, Fox News host Neil Cavuto stated that "Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius" was "taking scare tactics to a new level" by calling out "the Republican plan to deal with Medicare." Fox contributor Charles Payne agreed that "Democrats continue to use these scare tactics" against GOP Medicare plans. [Fox News, Your World, 5/7/11, via Media Matters]
Fox's Chris Wallace: "Scare Tactics In Politics Are Nothing New." During the May 11, 2011, edition of Fox News' Special Report, guest host Chris Wallace adopted the GOP talking point that Democrats are using "scare tactics" to protect programs such as Social Security and Medicare. From Fox News' Special Report:
CHRIS WALLACE (guest host): Scare tactics in politics are nothing new. Entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare have long been the subject of such attacks. Tonight, chief Washington correspondent Jim Angle reports on what Republicans say is another example of Democrats saying one thing and doing another.
JIM ANGLE (Fox News correspondent): Freshman Republicans are complaining that Democrats are violating a pledge from President Obama not to demonize proposals tackling big problems such as Medicare, including the proposal from Republican Paul Ryan. [Fox News, Special Report, 5/11/11, via Media Matters]
For the truth about how Republicans' Medicare plans could negatively affect seniors, click here.
Sean Hannity: "Death Panels Are Inevitable." On the January 11 edition of his radio show, Sean Hannity claimed:
HANNITY: [W]hen government has to instill austerity measures, i.e. Greece, i.e. other places in Europe, what happens? The people rebel, they get angry. They feel like they have had the, you know, the floor pulled out from under them. "Where's my retirement?" They don't have the money, they overspent. "Where's my health care?" You have to wait six months for that X-ray. "Where's my - I'm sorry you're too old to get that hip replacement." All these things are happening in Europe. Why would they not happen here? "You're talking about death panels again, Hannity." Death panels are inevitable. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 1/11/12, via Media Matters]
Wall Street Journal: Advisory Board Could Lead To "Political Rationing Of Care For The Elderly." In an April 20, 2011, editorial, The Wall Street Journal wrote that the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) created in the health care law could lead to "the political rationing of care for the elderly, as now occurs in Britain, or else the board will drive prices so low that many doctors and hospitals drop out of Medicare." [The Wall Street Journal, 4/20/11]
Fox's Andrea Tantaros Fearmongered That Medicare Board Is "Going To Lead To Rationing." On the April 21, 2011, edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Fox News contributor Andrea Tantaros stated:
TANTAROS: If I were a senior, I would be extremely disturbed by what the president is proposing. He's actually proposing ... an independent panel -- 15 bureaucrats, 15 government-appointed officials -- this is these "rationing boards" we've heard about, who are going to make decisions about how to limit individual expenditures from Medicare patients.
What does that mean? They're going to decide what programs you can have, and what programs you can't, what's going to be the most cost-effective. This is going to lead to rationing. Just look at England. It always does. If you start to cut payments to doctors, cut payments to hospitals -- which is what the Obama plan does - eventually, doctors start to not want to treat Medicare patients. It's a very, very scary prospect, what the president's proposing. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/21/11, via Media Matters]
Big Government: Obama's "Proposal To Decrease Healthcare Costs ... [Is] Rationing." An April 25, 2011, post on right-wing blog Big Government claimed that the Obama administration's "proposal to decrease healthcare costs ... [is] rationing." The post claimed that the IPAB will likely "limit healthcare costs by reducing access to physicians, restricting choice of treatments, [and] restricting access to medication and technology." [Big Government, 4/25/11, via Media Matters]
For the truth behind the falsehood that the Independent Payment Advisory Board created by the health care law will lead to rationing, click here.
Fox's Eric Bolling: Health Care Law Waivers Are "Blatant Cronyism." On the May 11, 2011, edition of his now-defunct Fox Business show, Eric Bolling asked: "So, do you think it's a coincidence that 20 percent of the new Obamacare waivers are for gourmet restaurants, nightclubs, and fancy hotels in Nancy Pelosi's district?" He continued: "[S]eriously, the left has absolutely no shame, blatant cronyism. Really? Really? Come on." [Fox Business, Follow The Money, 5/11/11, via Media Matters]
Gretchen Carlson Asked If Waivers Are "Political Corruption." Previewing a segment on the health care waivers on the May 18, 2011, Fox & Friends, Carlson asked: "Political corruption or just simply coincidence?" [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 5/18/11, via Media Matters]
Hannity: "Why Does The Word Corrupt Come To My Mind?" On the May 17, 2011, edition of his Fox News show, Hannity said: "There were 204 brand new Obamacare waivers that were granted in April. Thirty-eight of those 204, or 20 percent, came from, let's see, Nancy Pelosi's district. What does that tell you about, first of all, all the companies wanting waivers, some companies granted waivers, a lot of unions have been granted waivers, and then Nancy Pelosi's district is one of the biggest beneficiaries of waivers for health care? What is your reaction to that?" Hannity also said:
HANNITY: Why does the word corrupt come to my mind when I hear that there's any waivers for any person anywhere? I mean, you know, I understand why McDonald's wanted a waiver, I understand why some companies want it. But, you know, the idea that some people are going to be subjected to this law, you know, it seems like this may even hit the equal protection clause by the time this is all said and done. [Fox News, Hannity, 5/17/11, via Media Matters]
For the truth about the phony health care waivers controversy, click here.
Wash. Times' Jeffrey Kuhner: "Profoundly Immoral" Contraception Proposal "Is Essential To Forging A Pagan Society." In a July 21, 2011, Washington Times column, Jeffrey Kuhner called the Institute of Medicine's recommendation that health insurance plans should cover contraception without cost to the consumer part of "Obama's culture of death," which he claimed was "essential to forging a pagan society based on consequence-free sex." From The Washington Times:
The proposal is profoundly immoral. Contraception violates the natural moral order. It decouples sexual intercourse from its main purpose: procreation. It entrenches the hedonistic ethic that sex is about recreation and individual gratification. It strikes at the very heart of a functioning, self-renewing civilization - having children and perpetuating one generation to another. This is why practically every major religion and most cultures have rightly believed that birth control, pornography, homosexuality and adultery are wrong. They threaten the basic institution of society: the traditional family. The family existed before the state; its importance transcends the state. Hence, our ancestors understood that moral standards must be upheld, not demolished. The breakdown of the family inevitably leads to social collapse. [The Washington Times, 7/21/11]
Fox's Greg Gutfeld: Contraception Is The Left's "Way To Eradicate The Poor." On the July 20, 2011, edition of Fox News' The Five, co-host Greg Gutfeld said: "If you're talking about free birth control, who is going to use free birth control? The people who can't afford it. So the left has figured out a way to eradicate the poor. And it's by eradicating the poor." [Fox News, The Five, 7/20/11, via Media Matters]
Andrea Tantaros: "A Lot Of This Is For Population Control. This Has Nothing To Do With Women's Health." On the February 8 edition of Fox News' Hannity, Andrea Tantaros claimed:
TANTAROS: Well don't forget, Nancy Pelosi thinks birth control is stimulative. These were comments that she made. And a lot of this is for population control, Jehmu [Greene]. This has nothing to do with women's health.
GREENE (Fox News contributor): Population control?
TANTAROS: Yeah, this is what liberals are doing. [Fox News, Hannity, 2/8/12, via Media Matters]
Gretchen Carlson: If Contraception Mandate Is Enforced, "Your Rights Could Be Taken Away Down The Road." On the February 9 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Gretchen Carlson claimed:
CARLSON: What you brought up earlier is very important to this discussion which is this is about religious freedom.
STEVE DOOCY (co-host): Absolutely.
CARLSON: And just imagine if there was another religion that was being attacked. I mean, I think that's the way to look at this whole thing. Your rights could be taken away down the road.
On-screen text during the segment stated, "Trumping religious rights?":
[Fox News, Fox & Friends, 2/9/12, via Media Matters]
For the truth behind the right-wing media freakout about the contraception mandate in the health care law, click here.
Glenn Beck: "This Is The End Of Prosperity In America Forever ... The End Of America As You Know It." Telling his radio audience, "You must not allow this to pass," Glenn Beck stated in November 2009 that "they're going to get past that 60-vote barrier. And they'll get there by people like [Sen.] Joe Lieberman, who's a reasonable guy and has good intent. You'll get past it by people like that, who say, you know what? Look, we got to be reasonable; we have to have a debate. And then Harry Reid will go for the 51 count and he'll pass this thing. And it will be a nail in the coffin of America." Beck added: "You must -- must get on the phone in your districts. You must wake everybody up you know. This is the end of prosperity in America forever if this bill passes. This is the end of America as you know it." [Premiere Radio Networks, The Glenn Beck Program, 11/19/09, via Media Matters]
Beck: "The Health Care Bill Is Reparations. It's The Beginning Of Reparations." On the July 22, 2009, edition of his radio show, Beck claimed that "none of [Obama's] bills are about what he says they're about. The health care bill is reparations. It's the beginning of reparations ... the medical schools will get more federal dollars if they have proven that they are putting minorities ahead." [Premiere Radio Networks, The Glenn Beck Program, 7/22/09, via Media Matters]
Radio Host Jim Quinn: "You Are Going To See Insurrection. You're Going To See An Uprising." On January 13, 2009, radio host Jim Quinn predicted that "if they pass this thing, you are going to see insurrection. You're going to see an uprising. People are just not going to take this. I mean, your taxes are going to go through the roof. It's going to be a bloodbath when people find out how much this is going to cost and for the first four years, they're not going to get anything." [Clear Channel, The War Room with Quinn & Rose, 1/13/10, via Media Matters]
Neal Boortz: "Obama's Health Care Plan Is Going To End Up Killing People." On the June 17, 2009, edition of his radio show, Neal Boortz claimed, "Obama's health care plan is going to end up killing people ... especially among the ranks of the elderly, there's going to be people who die." [Cox Radio Syndication, The Neal Boortz Show, 6/17/09, via Media Matters]
Fox's Peter Johnson Jr: Health Care Reform Is "The Government Deciding Who Will Live, Who Will Die." On the June 25, 2009, edition of Fox & Friends, guest host Peter Johnson Jr. claimed that a line from a health care town hall by Obama referencing evidence-based treatments "was the most disturbing quote of the night. President as social engineer, president as bioethicist, the government deciding who will live, who will die. You're too old, you're too young. ... Is that what this plan is about? To save money by killing old people?" [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 6/25/09, via Media Matters]
Brian Kilmeade: Health Care Reform Will "Devastate" Health Care Research And Innovation. On the August 13, 2009, edition of his radio show, Brian Kilmeade responded to a caller asking about the effect of the bill on "medical research and stem cell research." Kilmeade claimed it was a "great question and we know the answer. The answer is devastate it. It will take the entrepreneurship and the industrialness [sic] out, and the creativity out of the biotech business." [Fox Radio Network, Brian and the Judge, 8/13/09, via Media Matters]