Universal Health Care Backer's 'Moment of Truth' Trumpeted by CBS --8/9/2007
2. CBS Makes Clinton Quote Less Divisive, Skips 'Right-Wing Machine'
3. Couric Hails Dem Congress for Promises Kept: 'Worked Much Harder'
4. Chicago Tribune: Bridge Collapse Anti-Immigrant and Anti-Muslim
5. ABC's Nightline Regurgitates Attack on 'Catholic Jonestown'
Tremendously exaggerating the number of Americans who lack access to health insurance, CBS on Wednesday night trumpeted the cause of an AFL-CIO member who denounced the United States for not providing health insurance coverage for his wife and endorsed the John Edwards plan for universal health care. Anchor Katie Couric previewed the upcoming story: "Presidential candidates hear a dramatic plea for help from one of the millions of Americans with no health insurance and no way to pay for it." Setting up the tribute to the retiree, Couric asserted that "45 million Americans have no coverage. That includes more than 13 million between the ages of 19 and 29. Many of them don't get coverage from their jobs, and cannot afford to buy it on their own." Of course, many can afford it and in that age range feel comfortable without insurance. In fact, 17 million of the uninsured earn more than $50,000. Removing those, plus people who are not U.S. citizens, leaves fewer than ten million chronically uninsured.
Reporter Michelle Miller began her CBS Evening News piece by championing how "every once in a while, a moment of truth breaks through a political campaign event. That happened last night when a 60-year-old retired steel worker from Union Township, Indiana, asked a question." Viewers then saw a clip of Steve Skvara from the AFL-CIO debate shown Tuesday night on MSNBC: "Every day of my life, I sit at the kitchen table across from the woman who devoted 36 years of her life to my family, and I can't afford to pay for her health care. What's wrong with America? And what will you do to change it?" Miller explained that "Skvara says he got the answer he was looking for from his favorite candidate, John Edwards," who proclaimed: "And we ought to have universal health care in this country!" Skvara agreed: "We need a national health care plan." Miller wondered: "Now the question is whether a moment in a debate will be the moment that motivates reform."
Earlier Wednesday, on MSNBC's Hardball, Chris Matthews featured a segment with Skvara and hailed him as "a great American who speaks so well to the needs of this country."
Skvara complained that when the steel company he had worked for went bankrupt he lost his promised lifetime health insurance. Not surprisingly, neither Miller nor Matthews raised Skvara's lack of personal responsibility in planning ahead for his own future when he worked in a declining industry, burdened by high health care costs, that many predicted long ago would go out of business. Nor did they look into the responsibility of the union to which he paid dues for decades. On Hardball, Skvara did acknowledge that he's on Medicare and his wife, who is several years younger, will qualify for Medicare in a few years.
Exactly one week ago, Couric and CBS promoted "landmark" and "historic" efforts to expand federal control of health, as recounted in the August 2 CyberAlert:
Wednesday's CBS Evening News trumpeted two liberal efforts to expand government power, leading by heralding "landmark legislation" to have the FDA regulate cigarettes followed by a story slanted in favor of, as reporter Thalia Assuras described it, an "historic expansion of health care coverage for children" of the "working poor." Assuras, however, ignored such inconvenient facts as how a family of four with an income as high as $82,600 could get on the taxpayers' dole. Katie Couric had teased her top story: "Tonight, landmark legislation that supporters say could save millions of lives. Congress takes a step toward regulating everything about cigarettes for the first time ever."
Next, Couric introduced a look at "getting medical coverage for the millions of American children who don't have it." Assuras touted how a proposed expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) "boosts funding by $50 billion over five years, almost doubling the number of uninsured kids covered from the current six million children to about 11 million." Sinking to the all too common media technique of exploiting a victim to push a liberal policy, Assuras cited "children like seven-year-old Pilar Edwards whose ear ache was so severe her mother brought her to this mobile medical clinic where she could get help even though Pilar is uninsured." Assuras did pass along how critics contend "the legislation is a slippery slope toward a universal health care plan," but against two negative soundbites, viewers heard from four advocates as Assuras concluded with a Senator's charge that "it would be a travesty if the President vetoed this legislation," followed by these final words from Assuras: "With kids caught in the middle." More like taxpayers.
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For the previous CyberAlert in full: www.mrc.org
An excerpt from a July 18 posting by Julia Seymour on the MRC's Business and Media Institute site, "Health Care Lie: '47 Million Uninsured Americans.'"
....[M]edia outlets incorrectly claimed the number of uninsured to be 40 to 50 million Americans. The actual total is open to debate. But there are millions of people who should be excluded from that tally, including: those who aren't American citizens, people who can afford their own insurance, and people who already qualify for government coverage but haven't signed up.
Government statistics also show 45 percent of those without insurance will have insurance again within four months after job transitions.
Accounting for all those factors, one prominent study places the total for the long-term uninsured as low as 8.2 million -- a very different reality than the media and national health care advocates claim.
The number of the uninsured who aren't citizens is nearly 10 million on its own, invalidating all the claims of 40+ million "Americans" without health insurance....
However, the Census Bureau report "Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2005," puts the initial number of uninsured people living in the country at 46.577 million.
A closer look at that report reveals the Census data include 9.487 million people who are "not a citizen." Subtracting the 10 million non-Americans, the number of uninsured Americans falls to roughly 37 million....
Many of the same people pushing the incorrect numbers of uninsured Americans also claim that these people cannot "afford" insurance....
Katie Couric echoed those sentiment on the CBS "Evening News" May 23.
"The number of Americans with no health insurance is continuing to grow as more and more employers say they can't afford to offer group insurance'€'People who try to buy insurance on their own often find the price beyond their reach," said Couric as she introduced a two-part "investigation of the health insurance industry."
But according to the same Census report, there are 8.3 million uninsured people who make between $50,000 and $74,999 per year and 8.74 million who make more than $75,000 a year. That's roughly 17 million people who ought to be able to "afford" health insurance because they make substantially more than the median household income of $46,326....
Subtracting non-citizens and those who can afford their own insurance but choose not to purchase it, about 20 million people are left -- less than 7 percent of the population.
"Many Americans are uninsured by choice," wrote Dr. David Gratzer in his book "The Cure: How Capitalism Can Save American Health Care." Gratzer cited a study of the "nonpoor uninsured" from the California Healthcare Foundation.
"Why the lack of insurance [among people who own homes and computers]? One clue is that 60 percent reported being in excellent health or very good health," explained Gratzer.... So what is the true extent of the uninsured "crisis?" The Kaiser Family Foundation, a liberal non-profit frequently quoted by the media, puts the number of uninsured Americans who do not qualify for current government programs and make less than $50,000 a year between 13.9 million and 8.2 million. That is a much smaller figure than the media report.
Kaiser's 8.2 million figure for the chronically uninsured only includes those uninsured for two years or more. It is also worth noting, that, 45 percent of uninsured people will be uninsured for less than four months according to the Congressional Budget Office.
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That's online at: www.businessandmedia.org
KATIE COURIC: It's well-known that far too many Americans have no health insurance, but what you might not know is that young adults make up nearly a third of the uninsured. According to a report today by the Commonwealth Fund, 45 million Americans have no coverage. That includes more than 13 million between the ages of 19 and 29. Many of them don't get coverage from their jobs, and cannot afford to buy it on their own. That, of course, is true for many Americans, regardless of age. Michelle Miller reports there was a dramatic reminder of that and a plea for help at last night's Democratic presidential forum in Chicago.
MICHELLE MILLER: Every once in a while, a moment of truth breaks through a political campaign event. That happened last night when a 60-year-old retired steel worker from Union Township, Indiana, asked a question.
For the CBSNews.com online version of the story, "Steelworker Takes the Spotlight at Debate: Gets Standing Ovation at Democratic Debate for Asking 'What's Wrong With America?' on Health Care," go to: www.cbsnews.com
Unlike ABC and NBC on Wednesday morning, CBS's Early Show edited a Hillary Clinton quote from the previous night's AFL-CIO debate to portray her as a populist for the little guys and gals, leaving out how her much-played "I'm your girl" line had followed her boast that "I have stood up against the right-wing machine." News reader Joie Chen relayed: "Front-runner Clinton also came up against sharp elbows with rivals accusing her of cozying up to big-money lobbyists. Before thousands of union members, the New York Senator sought to portray herself as champion of the little guy." CBS then ran this Clinton clip: "So if you want a winner who knows how to take them on, I'm your girl." The full quote, however, was much more divisive: "For 15 years I have stood up against the right-wing machine and I've come out stronger. So if you want a winner who knows how to take them on, I'm your girl."
[This item is adapted from a posting by Justin McCarthy on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
ABC's Good Morning America and NBC's Today both provided the full Clinton quote. From the August 8 GMA:
George Stephanopoulos: "Senator Clinton fired back, saying Democrats should not be fighting Democrats."
The Today show:
Chip Reid: "Moderator Keith Olbermann, of MSNBC, gave Clinton a chance to respond but she said she'd rather focus her attacks on Republicans."
When Nancy Pelosi rose to be the House Democrats' leader in 2002, Katie Couric gushed to NBC colleague Ann Curry: "Is it okay to say, 'You go girl!'?" That cheerleading spirit continued in her Monday "Katie Couric's Notebook" video commentary (featured at her Couric & Co. blog) lauding the new Democratic Congress: "This new crop worked much harder than the last. A big accomplishment was in challenging executive power with oversight hearings on Iraq, Medicare, the Department of Justice, and global warming." She concluded: "Promises, promises. Sometimes they are kept -- even in Washington."
That was certainly not the tone of CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather took toward Speaker Gingrich and the new Republican Congress in 1995: "The new Republican majority in Congress took a big step today on its legislative agenda to demolish or damage government aid programs, many of them designed to help children and the poor."
[This item, by Tim Graham, was posted Wednesday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
MRC intern Michael Lanza transcribed the August 6 commentary, in which Couric consulted congressional scholar Thomas Mann from the liberal-to-moderate Brookings Institution for help in grading the liberals:
To watch that: www.cbsnews.com
# "This is just for starters on a tough week ahead for President Clinton and his agenda. From another offensive wave on Whitewater to a sweeping rollback of federal regulations on health, safety, and the environment, it's a political carpet-bombing attack, wall to wall, House to Senate." -- Dan Rather, July 17, 1995 Evening News.
# Rather sounded a bit like a presidential press secretary in forwarding the idea that Clinton had reasonable ideas for improving Washington, and his enemies were radicals and extremists out to hurt people: "President Clinton will outline his version of a plan he says will balance the federal budget in ten years without what Mr. Clinton sees as a radical and extremist Republican plan to gut programs that help the old, the young, and the poor in order to bankroll tax giveaways to the rich. Republicans, of course, see it a different way." -- Dan Rather before CBS News coverage of President Clinton's budget address, June 13, 1995.
# With the tone of Dan's copy, it's quite surprising that CBS didn't feature some Grinch cartoon shots next to Rather's head to underline the evil Republican agenda: "The new Republican majority in Congress took a big step today on its legislative agenda to demolish or damage government aid programs, many of them designed to help children and the poor." -- Dan Rather on the March 16, 1995 Evening News.
By now it's been so widely adopted by the media that it's easy to be numb to it, but Chicago Tribune reporter E.A. Torriero breathed new life into the Bush-caused-it meme in the I-35W bridge collapse story by adding a new twist. The bridge collapse, suggested Torriero, is insult added to injury for mostly Muslim Somali immigrants already angered by American foreign policy.
In a story filed Tuesday evening, and printed in the August 8 newspaper, Torriero portrayed the collapse as insult added to injury for Somali immigrants, weaving in suggestions that America under President Bush is becoming akin to a third world country, unable or unwilling to build and maintain safe infrastructure: "The collapse was something Somalis never expected to witness in their new homeland. And it has some wondering if the American government has misplaced its priorities by ignoring a decaying national infrastructure in favor of its costly foreign policy." Torriero quoted a "young Somali" who charged: "Instead of building bridges, they spent more on invading countries."
[This item is a adapted from a Wednesday posting, by Ken Shepherd, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
An excerpt from the Chicago Tribune article, "Somali community hard hit by Minneapolis bridge disaster," by E.A. Torriero:
....To the Somalis who live near the bridge, the picture remains unfathomable. After all, they said, bridges collapse in underdeveloped African nations not in metropolitan Minneapolis....
Still, many in the Somali community recognize the determined scope of the recovery work by American authorities. They grieve like all in the Twin Cities for victims regardless of their nationality, community leaders said....
Still, the collapse was something Somalis never expected to witness in their new homeland. And it has some wondering if the American government has misplaced its priorities by ignoring a decaying national infrastructure in favor of its costly foreign policy.
"Instead of building bridges, they spent more on invading countries," said Abbi Osman, a young Somali who came to Minnesota four years ago and was watching buddies play dominoes Tuesday in a Somali coffee shop. "They are investing in the wrong places."
The collapse too adds to uneasy feelings among Somalis who say they have felt a federal backlash since Sept. 11, 2001 not only because of their Muslim faith but also because Somalia has been accused of harboring terrorists associated with Osama bin Laden. The bridge collapse has added jitters for Somalis who in recent years regrouped and rallied around one another....
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On Tuesday's Nightline, anchor Martin Bashir interviewed businessman Tom Monaghan, founder of a new Catholic university in Florida and also a community called Ave Maria that will be based around Catholic values. Bashir parroted criticism that the town has "been described as a Catholic Jonestown, a kind of Catholic Iran, where individual rights and liberties are curtailed."
Earlier in the segment, Bashir asserted that the community, which will encourage traditional values but be open to all, has "been called a Disney World for Catholics, a country club Christianity."
The Nightline co-host began the August 7 segment by wondering if Ave Maria would be as "welcoming to unbelievers" as it is to Christians. (Would it ever occur to ABC to ask, for instance, if San Francisco would be welcoming to conservatives?) He then proceeded to regurgitate criticism from a nearly two-year-old Wall Street Journal column that featured a quote maligning the proposed community as a "Catholic Jonestown":
The WSJ op-ed: www.opinionjournal.com
Monaghan, the founder of Dominos Pizza, went on to challenge the media-generated concept that opposing abortion and promoting traditional values makes one strange. "Maybe you're odd," he shot back at the ABC journalist.
[This item, by Scott Whitlock, was posted Wednesday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
The pizza magnate certainly has endured difficult interviews with hostile reporters. In March of 2006, Katie Couric, then with NBC's Today show, grilled him over how intolerant Ave Maria would be: "At the same time, you can understand how people would hear some of these things and be like, wow, this is really infringing on civil liberties and freedom of speech and right to privacy and all sorts of basic tenets this country was founded on? Right?"
She even closed the piece by announcing, in a threatening tone, "Well, we'll probably be following this story because I know the ACLU is too."
Monaghan, however, seemed to be philosophical about media coverage. During Tuesday's interview, he told Bashir: "I'm very happy. And when the media gets on me, I just say a Hail Mary for whoever wrote the article and it goes away just like that."
A partial transcript of the August 7 Nightline segment:
Martin Bashir: "But not everyone is delighted at the prospect of a town so avowedly Catholic, especially those concerned with civil liberties. You know that's it's been described as a Catholic Jonestown, a kind of Catholic Iran, where individual rights and liberties are curtailed."
-- Brent Baker