Jun
14
2012

WaPo's Plug for Health Insurer Misses the Deadly Fine Print

The Washington Post (6/11/12) had a story by headlined "Largest Health Insurer to Keep Key Parts of Law Regardless of Court Ruling." In the piece, reporter N.C. Aizenman relayed UnitedHealthcare's announcement that even if the Obama healthcare law is struck down by the Supreme Court, the company "will keep in place several key consumer provisions": The company will continue to provide customers preventive healthcare services without co-payments or other out-of-pocket charges, allow parents to keep adult children up to age 26 on their plans, and maintain the more streamlined appeals process required by the law. UnitedHealthcare would also continue to […]

Apr
10
2012

Samuelson's Social Security Screed

Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson really doesn't like Social Security and Medicare. And he'll go a long way to argue that they're wasteful, inefficient forms of welfare. (See Extra!, 10/11.) But his arguments rarely hold up. His most recent column (4/9/12) is no exception; in fact, it recycles a totally misleading factoid from a column he wrote last year. Samuelson's column has problems from top to bottom–you can read Dean Baker's dismantling of it at his Beat the Press blog: There is no trust fund, benefits cuts are necessary and inevitable, there are too many retirees supported by not very […]

Mar
06
2012

Sandra Fluke Controversy: Distraction or Revelation?

There seems to be a popular line emerging in the Rush Limbaugh/Sandra Fluke controversy that says his comments are especially harmful because they distract attention from the real issues. Kathleen Parker (Washington Post, 3/4/12): Inadvertently, Limbaugh also helped advance the argument from the left that Republicans are waging a war against women…. He has given his "feminazis" justification for their claims that conservatives hate women. Peggy Noonan (ABC's This Week, 3/4/12): But what he said was also destructive. It confused the issue. It played into this trope that the Republicans have a war on women. No, they don't, but he […]

Mar
05
2012

Rush and the Right: The 'Clown' GOP Leaders Fear

Rush Limbaugh's attack on Georgetown student Sandra Fluke–calling her, among other things, a "slut" for advocating for contraceptives coverage–has caused some stirrings on the right that are worth looking at. One outcome is the idea that Limbaugh's an outlier who sensible people repudiated. Kathleen Parker's Washington Post column on Saturday (3/2/12) cheered Limbaugh for uniting all decent people in opposition to his crude attacks: Who'd have thought that Rush Limbaugh would become the great uniter in this divisive political season? Indeed, he has united decent people of all stripes and persuasions with his vile remarks about a Georgetown University law […]

Jan
24
2012

Mother's Health News, Brought to You by Carcinogenic Baby Shampoo

Arianna Huffington had an announcement (1/19/12) about a new section in her Huffington Post: I'm delighted to announce the launch of Global Motherhood, a new section within HuffPost Impact dedicated to the health and well being of mothers and babies around the world, and sponsored by Johnson & Johnson. It goes without saying that it's a bad idea in general to have a corporation in the health industry sponsoring health coverage; the potential for conflict of interest is obvious. But given that these kinds of special sections are typically created to meet an advertiser's need–an impression strengthened by the fact […]

Aug
10
2011

Barney Frank Questions the Questions at NPR

It's an article of faith in mainstream media discussions of the budget: Social Security and Medicare are the "entitlements" driving our debt problems. That's not really true, but that's overwhelmingly the starting point for these discussions. Occasionally, perhaps by accident, someone questions that assumption. That's what happened on NPR's Morning Edition on Monday (8/8/11), when Rep. Barney Frank (D.-Mass.) was interviewed by Steve Inskeep about, among other things, the entitlement burden. Read what happened–or listen to the excerpt below: INSKEEP: Congressman, if I can, we've just got a few seconds. You have mentioned defense spending. You've mentioned tax increases. Those […]

Jun
17
2011

Time Magazine Feeds the Bachmann-tum

The story of Michele Bachmann's surging campaign momentum continues, this time courtesy of Beltway reporter Mark Halperin of Time magazine: Why has Michele Bachmann suddenly become the It candidate? With her impressive New Hampshire debate performance, Bachmann has gone from a conservative Sarah Palin-lite curiosity to a potential game changer. For two hours onstage with her GOP rivals, Bachmann appeared polished, serene and in command. Her smooth performance was partly the work of a top-shelf team of veteran advisers (manager Ed Rollins, pollster Ed Goeas, forensic coach Brett O'Donnell). They sanded down some of her rough edges but let Bachmann […]

Jun
01
2011

ABC's Karl: There's No Dem Plan for Medicare (Except for the New Law)

The roundtable panel on ABC's This Week (5/29/11) spent some time talking about the politics of Medicare, specifically the idea that the recent Democratic victory in a special Congressional election in New York could mean that Paul Ryan's Medicare plan might be a tremendous liability for the GOP. One of the most prevalent talking points from the Republican side is to complain that while Ryan's plan might have its flaws, at least they have something–unlike the Democrats. It was a point that ABC reporter Jonathan Karl passed along as fact: [Bill Clinton] said that I hope Democrats don't use this […]

May
11
2011

Single-Payer Silenced, Again

I saw a press release yesterday announcing that Rep. Jim McDermott (D.-Wash) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I.-Vt.) were introducing a single-payer healthcare bill in both houses of Congress. Unless there was a drastic change in the corporate media, this news wasn't going to be, well, news. And it hasn't been so far. There were mentions in independent outlets like Democracy Now!, GritTV and the Nation. But in the corporate media, next to nothing– except for one brief mention on CNN, thanks to Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel: VANDEN HEUVEL: The progressive caucus, which put out a people's budget which is […]

May
06
2011

Disability Rights Activists Are Even Invisible Getting Arrested on Capitol Hill

Elite media's selective disdain for public activism is well known. Still, you'd think some things would garner a word or two. Like 300 disability rights activists, a couple hundred in wheelchairs, occupying the rotunda of the Cannon House Office Building in Washington, D.C. The May 2 demonstration was organized by the rights group ADAPT to protest Republican budget plans for Medicaid. Ninety-one people were arrested and carted off by Capitol police. Yet days after the rotunda protest, and another action the next day in which 300 demonstrators gathered outside the Longworth House Office Building, many getting inside to Rep. Paul […]

Apr
08
2011

Paul Ryan, Serious Numbers Geek (Aside From His Fuzzy Numbers)

The uncritical coverage of Paul Ryan's budget plan continues.In the new issue of Time magazine,Michael Crowley and Jay Newton-Smalltell us that Ryan is "the new face of federal frugality": Just 41 years old, with jet black hair and a touch of Eagle Scout to him, the House Budget Committee chairman unveiled an ambitious package of huge budget cuts designed to dig the country out of its crippling debt crisis. For Ryan, reining in spending is nothing less than an act of patriotic valor. Valor. Eagle Scout. Great hair! Ryan'scritics have notedthat his plan actually does very little about the "crippling […]

Apr
06
2011

The Washington Post and Paul Ryan's Wonky Math

Dean Baker's Beat the Press is the best Early Warning Media Mythbuster. It's simple: You read it every morning before you read the papers (he is up before you are, trust me) and you're well prepared to deal with the economic nonsense you'll be subjected to. Today (4/6/11) he proposes this headline for stories about Rep. Paul Ryan's budget blueprint: Representative Ryan Proposes Medicare Plan Under Which Seniors Would Pay Most of Their Income for Healthcare Baker writes: "That is what headlines would look like if the United States had an independent press." He explains that the central idea in […]

Apr
04
2011

Only Hotheads Talk About the Effects of Budget Cuts

Corporate media's preference for"centrism" canoftentranslate intoreporting that casts two sides of a debate as equally belligerent or unwilling to compromise. ABC reporter Jonathan Karl's report yesterday on This Week (4/3/11) offers a perfect example of the absurdity of this worldview. His focuses was on the battle over the federal budget. On one side are Tea Party activists who want deeper spending cuts. Karl notes that this createssome frictionbetween the activists and GOP leaders. Then there's the other side of the debate: KARL: Democrats have their hot heads, too. One Obama administration official said the Republican bill, which cuts $5 billion […]