Aug
16
2012

ABC's Unrealistic Paul Ryan Reality Check

Campaign rhetoric, we're led to believe, can be hard to sort out. If Paul Ryan says his budget plan protects Medicare and the Democrats say it "ends" it, what should we believe? Those are the kinds of questions journalism is supposed to answer. Which is why ABC World News' August 14 "Reality Check" on Medicare was such a failure. Actually, the fact that it wasn't very good wasn't a total shocker. That was to be expected as soon as you heard Diane Sawyer said this: So we asked ABC's Jon Karl for a reality check on the plan and what […]

Jun
29
2012

Public TV's Narrow Debate on Supreme Court and Obamacare

PBS NewsHour host Judy Woodruff introduced a panel discussion on the Supreme Court's Affordable Care Act decision (6/28/12) as a chance to get "some reaction and assessment from those who will deal with the law or had worked to overturn it." That set-up sounded like it a pretty narrow discussion was to follow–and it did. At the table was Karen Ignani, president of the insurance industry lobby America's Health Insurance Plans. So was former Republican Florida attorney general Bill McCollum, who sued the White House over the law. There was one advocate of Obamacare–Ron Pollack¬† of Families USA, a group […]

Jun
29
2012

The Race to Be First to Be Wrong at the Supreme Court

In corporate media there is always a race to be first to report a breaking story seconds before your competitors. It means nothing to the rest of the world–we're talking a matter of seconds, much of the time–but it's a point of pride in the news business to be first. Being right is more important, by several miles, and on that score a few prominent outlets failed spectacularly yesterday at the Supreme Court, telling viewers that the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act had been struck down. The prime offenders on cable were Fox News (photo by @jasonkeath)¬† and […]

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 […]