Friday, July 17, 2009

From Media Matters:

Charting a misleading course on health care

(BKA Health Care Lies of Right Wing Media)

Nothing sends media conservatives off the deep end quite like the issue of health care reform. This week was certainly no exception.

This Wednesday on his nationally syndicated radio show, Fox News' Glenn Beck blew up on a caller who dared to challenge his unyielding, misleading war against health care reform. After patronizing the angry caller for several minutes, Beck "los[t]" his "mind," screaming at the caller: "Get off my phone you little pinhead!" Since then, the disturbing exchange has been burning uphighlighted the clip as an example of how conservative "anger" has "intensified." Capping things off, Beck's screaming fit spawned a hilarious YouTube user-generated remix titled: "Glenn Beck 'Get Off My Phone' Radio Freak Out (Twilight Vampire Metal Remix)." YouTube and is currently ranked the #5 video overall with more than 350,000 views. MSNBC's David Shuster and Tamron Hall even

Coverage of health care, though, has been anything but funny of late.

This week, the Drudge Report, Fox News Channel, Fox Business and CNBC's The Kudlow Report ran with a chart released by congressional Republicans that day - just one day after House Democrats introduced their health care reform bill -- that purported to show "the complex health care reform proposal by Democratic congressional leaders." The release from Rep. Kevin Brady (TX) about the chart, titled "BAFFLING FLOW CHART; Public Gets Peek at Complicated Bureaucracy in Democratic Health Care Plan," stated that the chart "depicts how the health care system would be organized at the national level if the Democrats' plan became law. These new levels of bureaucracy, agencies, organization and programs will all be put directly between the patient and their health care."

Fox News' Sean Hannity hosted Bill O'Reilly ambush-producer-extraordinaire Griff Jenkins, who described the chart as "Candyland," noting that "whatever it is, it's a lot of government between you and your doctor," while syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, also on Fox, touted the chart by saying it makes the health care bill "look like an absurd Rube Goldberg device."

The conservative media's promotion of the House Republican chart harkens back to the media attention devoted in 1994 to a similar misleading chart -- distributed by the office of then-Republican Sen. Arlen Specter -- that then-Senate Republican leader Bob Dole claimed illustrated "what the health care bureaucracy would look like under" President Clinton's health care reform plan.

It really was a textbook example of how the right-wing noise machine operates. Media Mattersproduced a chart of its own documenting the media's web of misinformation on the subject, illustrating the disturbingly common pattern of conservative spin making its way from a Republican politician's press release to the Drudge Report to Fox News and other outlets on the right. Additionally, I discussed the subject as a guest on MSNBC Live noting, in part, that the conservative movement has been using the media to attack health care reform efforts for more than 70 years.

Not to be left out in the world of insane health care claims, an editorial by the conservative Investor's Business Daily actually claimed that the House tri-committee health-care reform bill includes "a provision making individual private medical insurance illegal." The claim is false, of course, but that didn't stop Rush Limbaugh, the Media Research Center or a host of other media conservatives from advancing the delusional line of attack on reform.

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