Cavuto links Dems' use of kids in SCHIP debate with Saddam's TV interview with young British hostage

Video ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

Fox News' Neil Cavuto juxtaposed a video clip of children pulling red wagons in front of the White House as part of a recent demonstration against President Bush's threatened veto of legislation to increase funding for the State Children's Health Insurance Program with a still image of Saddam Hussein and a British boy that was taken in a TV interview in which Saddam appeared with Western hostages in the lead-up to the Persian Gulf War.

Loading the player reg...

On the October 2 edition of Fox News' Your World, host Neil Cavuto asked, "[W]hat does this?"-- while he aired a video clip of children pulling red wagons in front of the White House as part of a recent demonstration against President Bush's threatened veto of legislation to increase funding for the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) by $35 billion over five years -- "have to do with this?" -- whereby he aired a still image of Saddam Hussein with a young British boy, an image from a widely publicized TV interview that aired on Iraqi state television in which Saddam appeared with Western hostages to whom he had refused exit visas in the lead-up to the Persian Gulf War.

Red Wagon Kids

Hussein and British boy

Cavuto juxtaposed the two images to set up a debate between conservative radio talk show host Ben Ferguson and Democratic strategist Julian Epstein about the use of "kids as props." After asking: "Remember that picture? Saddam posing with that little boy right before the start of the first Gulf War," Cavuto stated: "Now, some Democrats are using kids to strong-arm President Bush into approving a very costly health care bill." Cavuto then asked Ferguson, "So, Ben, you say they're props," to which Ferguson replied: "Sure they are. We have seen this happen multiple times before. You look at the school lunch program back in '94, and what did they do, they paraded them out on Capitol Hill and they held up a bottle of ketchup and said, you know, 'Are the Republicans trying to take away kids' only, you know, hot meal a day. Is this going to be a vegetable?' " Epstein, however, noted that "politicians have been kissing babies from time immemorial" and pointed out that Bush has also "used children as props on things that were much more controversial, things like the stem cell research veto, things like the No Child Left Behind." He later stated, "[I]f you want to have a child-free zone for politicians, then I think you can't be selective on it."

President Bush did in fact veto the bipartisan SCHIP legislation on October 3. The Washington Post reported that in vetoing the bill, "the president finds himself isolated politically," adding that the bill "is broadly popular in Congress, even among many Republicans."

From the October 2 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:

CAVUTO: In the meantime, what does this have to do with this? Remember that picture of Saddam posing with a little boy right before the start of the first Gulf War? Now, some Democrats are using kids to strong-arm President Bush into approving a very costly health care bill. Now the president is expected to veto it tomorrow. So are kids being used as props? With us now radio talk show host Ben Ferguson and Democratic strategist Julian Espstein. So Ben, you say they're props.

FERGUSON: Sure they are. We have seen this happen multiple times before. You look at the school lunch program back in '94, and what did they do, they paraded them out on Capitol Hill and they held up a bottle of ketchup and said, you know, "Are the Republicans trying to take away kids' only, you know, hot meal a day. Is this going to be a vegetable?" Every time you see where kids can be used, they use them to get people to say, "Oh my gosh, I can't imagine that we would not treat kids with health care." And no one's claiming that we shouldn't treat kids who do not have health care. What they're claiming is you don't give health care to families that are making $83,000 year that don't want to pay for their own health care, and they're using kids that know nothing about this to make their point. And it's sad.

CAVUTO: Julian, what do you think of that?

EPSTEIN: Well, I think politicians have been kissing babies from time immemorial, ever since there's been politicians. I think to single out the use of children in a press conference when you're dealing with a health care issue as an example of something crossing a line seems a little bit odd to me, since Republicans, including President Bush, have used children as props on things that were much more controversial, things like the stem cell research veto, things like the No Child Left Behind, which is a controversial, a very controversial piece of legislation now. Even last week, the president used children as props when he made his famous gaffe about the word "childrens is learning." And of course, remember on 9-11, the president was reading My Pet Goat to fifth graders. So, I think it's -- if you want -- if you want to have a -- if you want to have a child-free zone for politicians, then I think you can't be selective on it.

FERGUSON: I'm not being selective, I think --

EPSTEIN: You are being selective, you're only citing Democrats.

FERGUSON: No I'm not, I think that - well, first of all --

EPSTEIN: You didn't cite any Republican examples.

FERGUSON: -- when the president was reading of 9-11, it had nothing to do with legislation. The second thing is this, you don't use kids to make your point. Pass your legislation on the merit of the legislation. It can work on the Democratic and Republican side, but when you take kids to the gates of the White House to drop off petitions, which you know will not be accepted by the Secret Service -- because everyone that went with them was smart enough to know it wasn't going to work -- you're using children.

Posted In
Health Care, Children's Health
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Neil Cavuto
Show/Publication
Your World w/ Neil Cavuto
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.