To The Right-Wing Media, It's All An Obamacare Distraction

››› ››› OLIVIA MARSHALL & OLIVIA KITTEL

Right-wing media are dismissing President Obama's and Congressional Democrats' work on filibuster reform, a diplomatic agreement with Iran, and immigration reform as merely attempts to distract from the Affordable Care Act.

Senate Vote Eliminates Filibusters On Most Presidential Nominees

Senate Votes To End Filibuster Of Most Judicial And Executive Nominees Following Historic Obstructionism. On November 21, Senate Democrats voted to employ the 'nuclear option,' removing the ability of the minority to filibuster most judicial and executive branch nominees. The New York Times explained:

The Senate approved the most fundamental alteration of its rules in more than a generation on Thursday, ending the minority party's ability to filibuster most presidential nominees in response to the partisan gridlock that has plagued Congress for much of the Obama administration.

[...]

Under the change, the Senate will be able to cut off debate on executive and judicial branch nominees with a simple majority rather than rounding up a supermajority of 60 votes.The new precedent established by the Senate on Thursday does not apply to Supreme Court nominations or legislation itself.

It represented the culmination of years of frustration over what Democrats denounced as a Republican campaign to stall the machinery of Congress, stymie President Obama's agenda and block his choices for cabinet posts and federal judgeships by insisting that virtually everything the Senate approves be done by a supermajority. [The New York Times11/21/13]

Fox Figures Decry Filibuster Reform As "Distraction From The Affordable Care Act Debacle"

Fox News' Sean Hannity On Filibuster Reform: "This Was Politically Timed."  On the November 21st edition of Fox News' Hannity, host Sean Hannity began the show by insisting that the Senate vote "was politically timed all to turn your attention away from Obamacare."

HANNITY: This administration proved just how low they will go to push through their radical agenda in one of the most lawless power grabs in the history of the U.S. Senate. Liberal Harry Reid used the quote nuclear option to eradicate most filibusters for presidential nominees. There is absolutely no question now that this was politically timed all to turn your attention away from Obamacare, but on this program nothing will stop us from getting to the truth on both issues. [Fox News, Hannity, 11/21/13] 

Fox News' Bret Baier On Senate Vote: "Obama Is Thankful For Any Distraction." On the November 21 edition of Fox News' Special Report, host Bret Baier introduced a segment on filibuster reform by characterizing President Obama as "thankful for any distraction from the health care mess":

BAIER: With his poll numbers plummeting President Obama is thankful for any distraction from the health care mess, but as Mike mentioned there are potential downsides to the Senate move. More now, from Chief White House Correspondent, Ed Henry.

[...]

ED HENRY: The shifted focus to the so-called nuclear option also enables the President to try and change the subject from the broken gears over at Healthcare.gov, which have been sinking his poll numbers even as aids tried to downplay the significance of bringing in liberal pundits to try and right the ship. [Fox News, Special Report11/21/13]

Fox & Friends' Steve Doocy And Elisabeth Hasselbeck Frame Filibuster Reform As A "Diversion" From The ACA. On the November 22 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy framed filibuster reform as a "diversion" from the Affordable Care Act's rollout, and co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck agreed that the vote was "an effort to make up for what's going on with the Obamacare crisis":

HASSELBECK: In an effort to make up for what's going on with the Obamacare crisis, they're seems to be this sort of, you know boomerang being thrown into, get into the Senate and redefine what it has really been for over two hundred years.

DOOCY: A lot of people are going well, this is only going to be a one- or a two-day story, and today could probably be the last day on it. Well why'd they do it? A diversion. Many Republicans say it's a diversion. The White House, the Democrats are taking such a beating over the Affordable Care Act which is not very affordable for many, and so they're trying to change the subject. Is it working? A little bit, for a day or two. But then, after that, we're going to continue to talk about this horrendous rollout of Obamacare. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 11/22/13]

Fox News' Martha MacCallum: Nuclear Option "Is A Whole Other Distraction." During the November 22 edition of America's Newsroom, co-host Martha MacCallum listed filibuster reform as a sign that the Obama administration is "on defense," describing the historic Senate vote as "a whole other distraction" from the health care law. [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 11/22/13]

Iran, U.S. Reach Deal On Iran's Nuclear Program

Iran, World Powers Reach Historic Nuclear Deal. On November 23, the United States reached a deal with Iran on the country's nuclear program. From The Washington Post:

The deal, intended as a first step toward a more comprehensive nuclear pact to be completed in six months, freezes or reverses progress at all of Iran's major nuclear facilities, according to Western officials familiar with the details. It halts the installation of new centrifuges used to enrich uranium and caps the amount and type of enriched uranium that Iran is allowed to produce.

[...]

The concessions not only halt Iran's nuclear advances but also make it virtually impossible for Tehran to build a nuclear weapon without being detected, the officials said. In return, Iran will receive modest relief of trade sanctions and access to some of its frozen currency accounts overseas, concessions said to be valued at less than $7 billion over the six-month term of the deal. The sanctions would be reinstated if Iran violates the agreement's terms.

[...]

In an address from the White House after the deal was announced, President Obama praised the negotiators' work. "Today, that diplomacy opened up a new path toward a world that is more secure -- a future in which we can verify that Iran's nuclear program is peaceful and that it cannot build a nuclear weapon," he said. "While today's announcement is just a first step, it achieves a great deal. For the first time in nearly a decade, we have halted the progress of the Iranian nuclear program, and key parts of the program will be rolled back." [The Washington Post11/24/13]

Right-Wing Media Characterize Iran Deal As Attempt To Distract From ACA

Fox News' Heather Childers: Many Believe Iran Deal "Yet Another Attempt To Distract" From Health Care Website's Problems. On the November 25 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends First, co-host Heather Childers claimed the Iran nuclear deal shifted focus away from Obamacare, sparking "many to believe that it is yet another attempt to distract from the disastrous rollout and the looming deadline to get the site up and running at full speed." [Fox News, Fox & Friends First11/25/13, via Media Matters]

Doocy: "Some People Are Skeptical" Of Iran Deal Because Administration "Trying To Change The Subject" From Health Care. In an interview with White House Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken on November 25, Fox & Friends co-host Doocy asked if the deal with Iran was the administration "trying to change the subject":

DOOCY: Right, Tony, some people are skeptical, a little critical. They're going, why now? Oh, maybe because so they're trying to change the subject, Obamacare not working out. President's approval at 38 percent. [Fox News, Fox & Friends11/25/13, via Media Matters]

Rush Limbaugh: "Obama's Trying To Distract Us From The Obamacare Scandal With This Iranian Deal." On the November 25 edition of The Rush Limbaugh Show, Limbaugh claimed of the agreement, "Now, Obama's trying to distract us from the Obamacare scandal with this Iranian deal. And that I firmly believe." [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show11/25/13]

Fox Analyst: Iran Deal Is An Attempt To "Get Away From Obamacare For 20 Minutes." On the November 24 edition of Fox Business Network's Lou Dobbs Tonight, Fox strategic analyst Lt. Col. Ralph Peters claimed the Iran deal is a way for the administration to "desperately get a deal for good headlines and get away from Obamacare for 20 minutes." [Fox Business Network, Lou Dobbs Tonight11/24/13]

President Obama Urges Congress to Pass Immigration Reform

San Francisco Chronicle: Obama Focuses On Immigration Reform. President Obama spoke about the need for Congress pass immigration reform while on a visit to San Francisco on November 25, the San Francisco Chronicle reported:

President Obama issued an impassioned call Monday for Congress to pass immigration reform during a visit to San Francisco that - in true city-by-the-bay fashion - included everything from a nod to Batkid to an exchange with a protester who pleaded with him to halt all immigrant deportations.

[...]

Obama opened his five-hour visit to the city at the Betty Ann Ong Chinese Recreation Center, hoping to jump-start a comprehensive immigration reform package that has passed the Senate but stalled in the GOP-controlled House of Representatives.

Although he blamed "the unwillingness of certain Republicans in Congress to catch up with the rest of the country," he pointedly exempted Speaker John Boehner from his criticism - noting that the Ohio Republican has recently opened the door to the possibility of bringing pieces of the package to a vote. [San Francisco Chronicle11/25/13]

Fox News Attacks President's Immigration Focus As "Changing The Subject"

Fox News' Brian Kilmeade: "Will Changing The Subject" To Immigration "Actually Work?" Previewing Obama's immigration reform speech in San Francisco on November 25, Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade asked: "Forget Iran, forget Obamacare, President Obama wants to talk about immigration? Will changing the subject actually work, I say, with italicized work?" [Fox News, Fox & Friends11/25/13, via Media Matters]

Baier: The White House Is "Trying To Turn The Page" Away From Obamacare With Immigration Focus. Later on in the broadcast, Kilmeade again asserted that Obama is "going to have a hard time changing the subject to immigration" in light of ACA problems. Special Report anchor Bret Baier agreed, replying:

BAIER: He is, because -- listen. Every day, there is some story about Obamacare, and it's not just the website anymore, and we've gone over that. But the more and more people see the premiums, that's really the sticker shock. And I think you've got -- when you've got a White House trying to turn the page a number of different times, a number of different ways, he might have a challenge. [Fox News, Fox & Friends11/25/13]

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