Anchor Kiran Chetry introduced Kristof as someone who merely "supports the health care bill as it stands now" during a panel discussion segment at the bottom of the 7 am Eastern hour. After introducing Kristof and Tumulty, Chetry asked, "Does this hurt the President if indeed Congress goes forward with doing this behind the scenes?"
Kristof acknowledged that "to some degree it hurts him politically [and] I think he shouldn't have actually made that promise," but continued that, from his experience as a journalist, the lack of transparency was actually a good sign:
KRISTOF: One of the things you learn as a journalist, whether you're covering a negotiation over health care, a negotiation over nuclear weapons with North Korea or Iran, is that when people talk to you, that means they're not serious. When they actually are quiet and they are really negotiating behind closed doors and it's not transparent, that's an indication that they're actually serious, and they're willing to make the kinds of compromises to get a deal done. So I think that the only way you're going to get these compromises to get a health care package worked out is to have it be a non-transparent process.
The New York Times columnist later tried to underscore the apparent urgency to get ObamaCare passed:
CHETRY: And why is it - explain, Nicholas, why it is so critical right now for some health care reform bill to pass. I know that the State of the Union [address] is one of the markers, but then you're also looking at the 2010 elections, the midterm elections, where there is a lot of fear over whether or not they are going to continue to have the 60 seats needed, let's say, in the Senate to make something happen.
KRISTOF: Well, it's certainly crucial for the future of the Democratic Party to have something to show for it, but more importantly, this is crucial for the American public. There was a Harvard study that was published in December that showed that more than 40,000 Americans each year die prematurely because of lack of access to health care. We've got a huge problem with lack of access, and we have a huge problem with rising health care costs. I'd say that the ObamaCare proposal certainly doesn't resolve either problem, but it does begin to make some serious steps in both directions.
Even with Chetry's earlier muted disclosure of Kristof's position, the journalist became utterly shameless in his vouching for health care "reform" near the end of segment:
CHETRY: The Wall Street Journal did an article a couple days ago talking about the - quote, 'marriage penalty' in the version right now, showing that basically, if you stay unmarried and you're making a lower income salary, you're better off. If you had a combined income, meaning two people making $25,000 and living together, actually pay less for their health care if they have to go buy it on the open exchange than, let's say them being married and bringing in $50,000 for their household. A marriage penalty is not something that the Democrats really want to be associated with.
KRISTOF: Right, absolutely. As with the tax code, you have a real problem creating neutrality for a couple, and so, you tend to have either a marriage penalty at some moments or a widow penalty at others, where a single person- it's really hard to achieve that neutrality. They've got to do better on that. But I also think that we need some perspective. I mean, if you think back to when Medicare was brought in 1965, there were all these kinds of real problems with it, and those were legitimate criticisms. But at the end of the day, when we looked back, the real achievement was the fact that we hugely expanded health care for Americans over 65, and made a dramatic transformation in the state of American health care.
CHETRY: And you think that's going to happen- this bill's going to happen.
KRISTOF: Is there some wood I can touch?
CHETRY: This is all Lucite actually, but you can feel free to knock on it anyway.
KRISTOF: (laughs) Okay, let me do that because, yes, I think that this is going to make real strides that will benefit Americans. We will look back on it with pride.
- Matthew Balan is a news analyst at the Media Research Center.