Selling Socialism: The Media's Campaign for ObamaCare
Next week, the Supreme Court will hear arguments on the constitutionality of ObamaCare, but if the media were the judges, the Court would rule 9-0 in favor of it. During its coverage of the health care debate, the liberal press never permitted questions about ObamaCare’s legality to interfere with their dream of a government takeover of the health care sector.
Starting even before Barack Obama became President, the press has been campaigning hard for passage of the most liberal version of health care reform as a cure-all elixir to all of America’s health problems. First, they pitched the public on the desperate need to, as ABC’s Dr. Tim Johnson demanded, fix America’s “national shame” of no universal coverage.
Then they ignored the history of Medicare, Medicaid and every other entitlement program as they praised the liberal plan as fiscally prudent with reporters like CBS’s Maggie Rodriguez ludicrously proclaiming it would “actually reduce the deficit” and save “billions.”
However, it wasn’t enough to hype the plan, but also to lionize and encourage its supporters. ABC’s Diane Sawyer hailed Nancy Pelosi’s efforts to pass the politically unpopular ObamaCare as “an epic blend of persuasion, muscle and will.” NBC’s Andrea Mitchell urged Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings to deliver a win for Obama on the issue: “You’ve got to get this for him.”
Of course, any one who dared oppose Pelosi and her Democratic colleagues was demonized. When outraged voters started showing up at townhall meetings, at Tea Party rallies and on Capitol Hill, they were derided as “ugly” by CBS’s Chip Reid and even sexist and racist. MSNBC’s Chris Matthews obnoxiously pondered if ObamaCare opponents were “really angry about...an African American president and a woman Speaker?” Matthews’ MSNBC colleague, Ed Schultz, went as far to absurdly accuse the GOP of wanting to commit mass murder as he screamed: “The Republicans lie! They want to see you dead!”
Finally, after the bill was passed, the media took a victory lap with the likes of the Washington Post’s Steven Pearlstein as he proclaimed that with ObamaCare’s passage the U.S. had “finally” joined “the rest of the industrialized world” and restored “trust and confidence in our political process” and “in ourselves.”
The following compilation of quotes from the MRC’s archive tells the story of the five phases of the liberal media’s quest to get the constitutionally-challenged ObamaCare passed:
1. SELL THE DESPERATE NEED FOR OBAMACARE
Lack of Universal Health Care is “Immoral”
Carole Simpson: “Even though the U.S. spends twice as much per person as
any other developed country on health care, the U.S. is the only
developed country that fails to provide universal coverage for all its
Medical Editor Tim Johnson: “We have a country that wants to believe it is the best in everything, but until all of us embrace the idea that health care should be a right, not a privilege, our system cannot be glibly described as, quote, ‘the best in the world.’”
– ABC’s World News Tonight/Sunday, October 19, 2003.
“In fact, every industrialized country in this world that is successful with health care — often more successful than we are — has a partnership between government and the private sector. And that’s what I think we have to have in this case.”
— ABC’s medical editor Dr. Tim Johnson discussing Hillary Clinton’s new health care plan on the September 17, 2007 World News with Charles Gibson.
“We’re the only industrialized democracy that doesn’t cover every citizen. That is immoral....to be a country this wealthy and be the only industrialized democracy that hasn’t figured out how to cover everyone.”
— Time senior political analyst Mark Halperin, ex-ABC News political director, on CNN’s Lou Dobbs Tonight, August 6, 2009.
Obama Will Fix “National Shame” of Health Care
“Ultimately, David, there is just one fact I want to let everybody hear: We spend more than twice as much, per person, on health care in this country as the average of all other industrialized countries, yet we’re the only one that doesn’t have universal coverage. That’s a national shame...”
— ABC medical editor Dr. Tim Johnson to anchor David Muir on World News Sunday, March 1, 2009.
NBC Doc: “I Was Rooting for Obama to Hit a Home Run”
“As a physician, you know, I felt like I understood the complexity of the problem. As an American citizen, I was rooting for the President to hit a home run....We’re going to pay big time if we don’t get this [Obama’s health care plan]. I don’t think we’re going to be a great world power.”
— NBC medical correspondent Dr. Nancy Snyderman on a special edition of MSNBC’s Hardball following President Obama’s July 22, 2009 press conference.
Free Clinic Shows “Desperate Need” for ObamaCare
“Once again, we begin tonight with the battle over health care reform, but this time, we’re not starting at a town meeting. Tonight, we’re going to show you why many believe reform is desperately needed. These are just some of the tens of thousands of Americans who need health care but have no insurance or not enough of it, and they’re lining up at a free makeshift clinic in Los Angeles.”
— CBS’s Katie Couric opening the August 13, 2009 Evening News.
“In Inglewood, California, tonight, a vivid demonstration of the health care crisis: A clinic that provides free health care has been inundated with patients. Almost 46 million people in this country do not have health insurance, but the problem is a lot bigger than that....”
— ABC’s Dan Harris on the August 15, 2009 World News.
Why Can’t We All Get Along — and Pass ObamaCare?
“I think providing health care for people who can’t afford it is something that most people do agree with — that there has to be some kind of alternative other than our national, our nation’s emergency rooms for people who need health care. And I read somewhere — I think it was in The New Yorker — that 45,000 people died needlessly because they simply don’t have access to health care, and that just seems so unfair and so undemocratic.”
— Katie Couric in a December 22, 2009 Facebook video chat. The statistic Couric cited, which she also touted on the September 17 CBS Evening News, was generated by the left-wing Physicians for a National Health Program.
2. PRAISE THE PLAN
Resistance Is Futile
“The great news tonight is this bill is on track for passage. Historic change is coming to the United States.”
— Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter on MSNBC after Obama’s speech, September 9, 2009.
If You Ignore the Huge Price Tag, ObamaCare “Saves Billions”
“The Senate Finance Committee said today it will vote on its reform plan next week, and according to a new report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the plan costs less than expected and would actually reduce the deficit. So why do Republicans still oppose it?”
— Fill-in anchor Maggie Rodriguez on the CBS Evening News, October 8, 2009.
“President Obama’s health care plan gets a green light from the Congressional Budget Office, as a key bill not only pays for itself, but actually saves billions....This morning Democratic leaders are cheering a report that shows that the Senate Finance Committee’s health care bill actually saves money.”
— CBS’s Maggie Rodriguez on The Early Show, October 8, 2009. In fact, the initial 10-year projected cost of the health care package was estimated at $829 billion, much of it paid for with new taxes and penalties. A new CBO report released last week doubles the cost.
Excited by Socialism’s Progress
“Good evening. In 1912, almost a hundred years ago, Teddy Roosevelt called for universal health care. It now may be closer than at any time since then. The Senate Finance Committee today voted 14 to 9 in favor of a bill that would overhaul the nation’s health care system. President Obama called it a milestone....”
— ABC’s Charles Gibson leading off World News, October 13, 2009.
Once Morons “Understand” ObamaCare, They’ll Be Thrilled
“A lot of people are going to like [the health care bill] a whole lot once they see what’s in it. For the first time, it’s got some long-term care in it, which everybody is desperate for as the population gets older. It’s paid for, totally paid-for long-term care insurance. So, I think that there’s a lot in the bill that people are going to like. It’s just a question of understanding it.”
— ABC’s Cokie Roberts on This Week, December 20, 2009.
Okay, but Preferred Even More Left-Wing Approach
Anchor Charles Gibson: “Tim, where this stands now, the question that I hear most often is, is this bill, without a public option, without an expansion of Medicare, is it better than nothing?”
ABC’s Dr. Tim Johnson: “I would say absolutely, Charlie. We have to remember that doing nothing leaves us with the status quo, a non-system that is headed for financial and health care disaster....I would personally prefer to have the public option and/or Medicare expansion directly challenging private insurance. But what’s left is not insignificant.”
— Exchange on ABC’s World News, December 18, 2009.
“Absurd” to Say Government Health Care Is Worse
“I’m on Medicare. People who’ve been in the military are on a government health program. And yet the Republicans were able the make the idea that being on a government health program is terrible. How absurd.”
— Longtime ABC News correspondent Sam Donaldson on This Week, January 24, 2010.
3. LIONIZE ITS SUPPORTERS
“Blown Away” By Obama’s Smarts on Health Care
Anchor Charles Gibson: “Our medical editor, Dr. Tim Johnson, was one of those attending today’s White House health care forum....”
Dr. Tim Johnson: “I have to tell you, Charlie, I was blown away by President Obama’s grasp of the subject, how he connected the dots, how he answered the questions without any script.”
— ABC’s World News, March 5, 2009.
Obama Summoned Ghosts of Democratic Greats
“There were ghosts in that chamber tonight, the other Presidents who tried to reform the health care system and failed. From Teddy Roosevelt, to Harry Truman, to Bill Clinton who came to Congress 16 years ago this month with his plan....There was another ghost in the chamber tonight, the spirit of Senator Ted Kennedy, who fought for decades for universal care....At the end, President Obama sought to draw on the grand rhetorical tradition of President Kennedy and others, trying to summon the country to a great and necessary endeavor.”
— ABC’s Terry Moran reporting on Obama’s speech to Congress on Nightline, September 9, 2009.
Andrea’s ObamaCare Plea: “You’ve Got to Get This for Him”
Anchor Andrea Mitchell: “Bottom line, what happens if you don’t get health care for this President is — this is really all-or-nothing for the sense of his power, for his legacy. He’s invested so much in this, in this first year. You’ve got to get this for him.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD): “Andrea, I agree with you a million percent.”
— Exchange on MSNBC’s 1pm ET Andrea Mitchell Reports, March 12, 2010.
Diane Salutes “Indefatigable, Unwavering” Pelosi
“All agree she gets credit for locking up this vote, one of the biggest since Medicare in the 1960s. And she’s said to have done it with an epic blend of persuasion, muscle and will, even when half the town said it couldn’t be done....Their indefatigable, unwavering almost 70-year-old Speaker, mother of five, grandmother of seven....[to Pelosi] What do you think your dad and your mom would have said about this moment?”
— Diane Sawyer interviewing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on World News, March 22, 2010.
4. DEMONIZE ITS OPPONENTS
“Reckless” Republicans Risking People’s Health Care
“You’re always honest about both political parties. Governor, do you believe that the Republicans are playing politics here, at the risk of people’s health care?...Is it upstaging the need to help people right now? Is this getting to be a little bit of a reckless situation?”
– ABC's Chris Cuomo to Arnold Schwarzenegger on Good Morning America, July 22, 2009.
“People are saying that you are playing pure politics with this issue....Are you rallying conservatives to the cause of health care reform? Or are you rallying conservatives to the cause of breaking a President?”
– NBC's Matt Lauer to Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) on Today, July 22, 2009.
Need a Latter-Day Buckley to Purge Conservatives
CNBC’s John Harwood: “What do you suppose Bill Buckley would think of the nature of the arguments that are being made against the Obama health care plan right now, death panels and all the rest?”
New York Times Week-in-Review editor Sam Tanenhaus: “Well, you know, one of the great contributions Bill Buckley made to conservatism was to move it toward the center. And one way he did that was to repudiate in a very forceful way what was then called the lunatic fringe....We may see in the days ahead where serious responsible Republicans and conservative thinkers say if they’re going to make a forceful argument the country can accept, they’ll have to cut themselves off from this more extreme view.”
— Exchange on MSNBC’s New York Times Edition program, August 14, 2009.
Health Care Debate Threatens Obama’s Safety?
“We turn now to the contentious debate over President Obama’s health care agenda. The rising anger is now ramping up concerns over the President’s personal safety....”
— ABC’s Bill Weir introducing a story on Good Morning America, August 14, 2009. The on-screen headline: “Anxious Moments; Threats Growing In Health Care Debate?”
The Republicans Want to Kill You!
“The Republicans lie! They want to see you dead! They’d rather make money off your dead corpse! They kind of like it when that woman has cancer and they don’t have anything for her.”
— Ed Schultz, host of MSNBC’s The Ed Show, September 23, 2009.
Letting “Half the Country Die” Just to Thwart Obama
Host Dylan Ratigan: “Some Republicans and conservatives celebrating Obama’s failed attempt to bring the 2016 Olympics to Chicago. Down with Chicago! Contessa Brewer has the latest.”
News anchor Contessa Brewer: “Can you imagine this, that some people actually went as far as to cheer?”
Ratigan: “Sure. I mean, there are people that are actually trying to derail health care in order to take down Obama, even if it means half the country dies.”
— Exchange on MSNBC’s 9am ET Morning Meeting, October 5, 2009.
ObamaCare Opponents Are the Real Terrorists
“What would you do, sir, if terrorists were killing 45,000 people every year in this country? Well, the current health care system, the insurance companies, and those who support them are doing just that....Because they die individually of disease and not disaster, [radio host] Neal Boortz and those who ape him in office and out, approve their deaths, all 45,000 of them — a year — in America. Remind me again, who are the terrorists?”
— MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann in a “Quick Comment” on Countdown, January 5, 2010.
“It’s that rare election where voters know exactly what they’re voting on. If they’re with Democrat Martha Coakley, they get health care reform. If they go for Republican Scott Brown, it’s deliberate, premeditated murder for health care!...These people been told one simple thing by this Republican. ‘I’m keeping it simple. Vote for me, I vote no. I kill this thing in its bed.’”
— MSNBC’s Chris Matthews on Hardball, January 19, 2010 a few hours before the polls closed in Massachusetts.
Media in Mourning: Teddy’s Liberal Dream “Derailed”
“On a personal note, you said last night the first call you made after your victory was to Ted Kennedy’s widow, Vicki....How comfortable was that for both of you, knowing that you plan to do whatever you can to derail what Ted Kennedy called, called ‘the cause of his lifetime,’ which is health care reform?”
— NBC’s Meredith Vieira to Senator-elect Scott Brown on Today, January 20, 2010.
Selfish Massachusetts Voters Squelched Health Care for Rest of America
“My fellow Americans, the state of our union is, well, quite wretched at the moment....Massachusetts, which for nearly half a century proudly sent a senator to Washington to fight for social justice and universal health care, has chosen as his replacement someone who campaigned in effect on the slogan ‘We’ve got ours, so the hell with everyone else.’”
— Washington Post business columnist and former business reporter Steven Pearlstein in a January 27, 2010 piece detailing the speech he wished President Obama would deliver that night.
“Unfortunately...Health Care Is Being Held Hostage”
Co-host Maggie Rodriguez: “Deadlines keep getting missed for passing health care. Obstacles keep mounting. Will your husband ever give up on trying to find a compromise?”
Michelle Obama: “Yeah, we can’t afford to keep — to give up. Not in this country....”
Rodriguez: “Unfortunately at the moment, though, health care is being held hostage by partisanship.”
— Excerpt of taped interview shown on CBS’s The Early Show, February 22, 2010.
ObamaCare Opponents = Violent Thugs
“Opponents of the bill have been out today, and some of them pulled out all the stops. Protesters roaming Washington, some of them increasingly emotional, yelling slurs and epithets.”
— ABC’s Diane Sawyer on World News, March 21, 2010.
CBS Insists: Anti-ObamaCare Demonstrators Get “Ugly”
Correspondent Chip Reid: “The closer we get to a vote, the nastier the debate becomes....Outside the Capitol, a few hundred members of the conservative Tea Party movement called on Congress to kill the Democratic health care reform bill as Republicans urged them to keep fighting.”
Representative Mike Pence (R-IN): “And you are here to say the American people don’t want a government takeover of health care!”
Reid: “Moving inside, they tried to lobby undecided Democrats. At times, it got ugly. [Video shows an office door being closed on group chanting in the corridor.] The angry war of words over health care reform in Washington is echoing across the nation....”
— CBS Evening News, March 16, 2010.
“A year-long debate that’s been rancorous and mean from the start turned even nastier yesterday. Demonstrators protesting the bill poured into the halls of Congress shouting ‘Kill the bill!’ and ‘Made in the USSR.’ And as tempers rose, they hurled racial epithets, even at civil rights icon John Lewis of Georgia, and sexual slurs at Massachusetts Democrat Barney Frank. Other legislators said the protesters spit on them, and one lawmaker said it was like a page out of a time machine.”
— Bob Schieffer leading off CBS’s Face the Nation, March 21, 2010.
If You’re Anti-ObamaCare, You Must Be a Bigot
“What are the Tea Partiers really angry about? Health care reform, or the fact that it was an African American President and a woman Speaker of the House who pushed through major change?”
— MSNBC’s Chris Matthews at the top of Hardball, March 29, 2010.
Opposing ObamaCare Makes Cokie Think of Pre-Civil War “Nullification”
“You have these 14 states attorneys general saying that they want to have the [Supreme] Court overturn the recently passed health care law. I must say, I was just with my grandkids at Fort Sumter, and the notion of nullification made me extremely nervous because it was, of course, the first step toward the Civil War. But that is going to be a huge question before the Court this fall.”
— ABC’s Cokie Roberts on This Week, April 11, 2010.
Opposing Government-Run Medicine Just Like Opposing Civil Rights
“We’ve lived through a version of this story before, and not just with Medicare. Nearly every time this country has expanded its social safety net or tried to guarantee civil rights, passionate opposition has followed....After Brown v. Board of Education outlawed school segregation in 1954, 101 members of Congress signed a statement calling the ruling an instance of ‘naked judicial power’ that would sow ‘chaos and confusion’ and diminish American greatness. A decade later, the Wall Street Journal editorial board described civil rights marchers as “asking for trouble” and civil rights laws as being on “the outer edge of constitutionality, if not more.”
— New York Times writer David Leonhardt in his December 15, 2010 front-page “Economic Scene” column, “Opposition to Health Law Is Steeped in Tradition.”
5. CELEBRATE ITS PASSAGE
Another Benefit: We Can “Trust” Ourselves Again
“It’s shaping up to be a great weekend here in Washington. I’m not just talking about the spectacular weather or another upset-filled NCAA basketball tournament. I’m talking about the prospect of a quasi-climactic vote in the House that would finally have the United States join the rest of the industrialized world in offering health insurance to all its citizens....Passing a health-care reform bill would restore not only a measure of trust and confidence in our political process but also, more significantly, trust and confidence in ourselves.”
— Washington Post business columnist Steven Pearlstein, March 19, 2010.
Ted Kennedy Idolatry: “The Unfinished Business Is Done”
“You heard the President pay tribute to Senator Ted Kennedy, who devoted his career to health care reform. But there was another quiet tribute at the Senator’s grave. A note left by his son, Congressman Patrick Kennedy. It said simply: ‘Dad — the unfinished business is done.’”
— ABC’s Diane Sawyer on World News, March 23, 2010.
ObamaCare Fixes Reagan Legacy of “Inequality”
“At least one thing seems clear: The bill that President Obama signed on Tuesday is the federal government’s biggest attack on economic inequality since inequality began rising more than three decades ago....The laissez-faire revolution that Mr. Reagan started did not cause these trends. But its policies — tax cuts, light regulation, a patchwork safety net — have contributed to them.”
— New York Times economics writer David Leonhardt in his March 24, 2010 “Economic Scene” column.
“For Many, Health Care Relief Begins Today”
— New York Times headline over a series of articles about official launching of ObamaCare, September 23, 2010.
“Millions of seniors are about to get their first taste of health care reform, and a lot of them will probably like it. For the first time, the 45 million seniors on Medicare can get free annual physicals, no more co-payments. They’ll get free screenings for diabetes and cancer....Advocates say most of these first provisions taking effect are quite popular and will be hard for anyone to take away.”
— Correspondent Sharyl Attkisson on the December 31, 2010 CBS Evening News.
- Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow Geoffrey Dickens on Twitter.