Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Media Matters Daily Summary 08-19-09

Luntz's "gambit": Fearmongering that Obama is "declaring war on Medicare"
On Fox News' Hannity, GOP consultant Frank Luntz forwarded the false conservative talking point that President Obama plans to cut Medicare benefits, claiming that it "is almost like he's declaring war on Medicare because it's the only way for him to pay for health care," and that it is a "fact" that "[t]hey're talking about lowering the reimbursements for Medicare." In fact, as noted: "The claim that Obama and Congress are cutting seniors' Medicare benefits to pay for the health care overhaul is outright false." Read More

NBC's Costello butchers health care bill's tax on wealthy
NBC News correspondent Tom Costello falsely reported that the health care income surtax in the House tri-committee bill could mean a surcharge of $7,000 for those "with a taxable income of more than $350,000" and a surcharge of $15,000 for those "earning $500,000." In fact, since the surcharge rates established in the bill would apply only to the portion of a household's income that exceeds $350,000 or $500,000, respectively, families making between $350,000 and $500,000 would not pay more than $1,500, and families making between $500,000 and $1 million would not pay more than $9,000. Read More

CNN joins Fox News in falsely comparing reconciliation process to "nuclear option"
Echoing Fox News' Bill Sammon and Sean Hannity, CNN hosts Anderson Cooper and Kiran Chetry both falsely compared Senate Democrats' potential use of the reconciliation process to pass health reform legislation to the "nuclear option." In fact, the term "nuclear option" was coined by then-Republican Sen. Trent Lott in 2005 to refer to a possible Republican attempt to change Senate filibuster rules, while reconciliation is already part of Senate procedure and Republicans have used it repeatedly in the past. Read More

Doocy finds fault with "rude" Frank, not protester who compared Obama to Hitler
During the August 19 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy repeatedly defended a protester who claimed Rep. Barney Frank and President Obama support a "Nazi policy" on health care and held up a sign of Obama with a Hitler mustache. Doocy did not note the content of the protester's remarks, saying only that "somebody asked [Frank] a question," and criticized Frank's response to the protester as "rude," giving "attitude," and demonstrating that he might spend "a little too much time in Washington, D.C., away from real people." Read More

Fox News hosts birther Mark Williams to promote "how you can join" anti-Dem Tea Party Express
On its August 19 broadcast, Fox News' Fox & Friends told viewers "how you can join" the Tea Party Express, a bus tour organized by the Republican PAC Our Country Deserves Better, whose mission is to oppose President Obama and the Democrats. In promoting the tour, Fox News hosted Tea Party Express organizer and OCDB vice chairman Mark Williams, who has said Obama lacks a valid birth certificate and who has compared "Obama's death panels" to Nazi experiments. Read More

Reading FAIL: Hannity's claims to have "read the entire bill" undermined by falsehoods
After claiming to have "read the entire bill, all 1,018 pages," Sean Hannity falsely claimed that if small businesses "don't go for the public option" under a House health care reform bill, "they're going to be punished," and that end-of-life provisions in the bill would establish "a bureaucrat that is designated to save money talking to an elderly person and offering them end-of-life advice." In fact, the penalty on small business would apply to businesses that don't provide health care, not specifically on those that "don't go for the public option," and the end-of-life provisions would reimburse physicians -- not "a bureaucrat" -- for voluntary counseling sessions. Read More

UPDATED REPORT: Conservative media push 75-year-old "socialized medicine" smear against health care reform
In discussing health care reform this year, conservative media figures have revived the "socialized medicine" smear to undermine the efforts of President Obama and congressional Democrats, most recently by promoting Ronald Reagan's 1961 attacks on a legislative precursor to Medicare. In light of this trend, Media Matters for America is updating and republishing its March 5 report documenting that health care reform opponents have baselessly smeared at least 16 previous progressive reform proposals as "socialized medicine" over the last 75 years. Read More

Cable nets still misleading on AARP membership losses due to health reform
Media figures on CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News continue to attach significance to reports that 60,000 senior citizens have canceled their AARP membership since July 1 because of the organization's support for health care reform, often displaying large graphics of the number while discussing it. However, the Associated Press has reported that, according to the AARP, the organization regularly loses 300,000 members a month and has also gained 400,000 new members since July 1. Read More

After repeated debunkings of "death panels," conservative media backtrack to "de facto death panels"
Just as former New York Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey backtracked on her false claim that the House health care reform bill would "absolutely require" end-of-life counseling, other conservative media figures are hedging their support for former Gov. Sarah Palin's false claim that the health care bill would create government "death panels" to decide who lives and dies. These conservatives are allowing that there won't be actual "death panels," but also claiming that the bill itself will inevitably lead to the government making end-of-life medical decisions, or as a Fox News chyron put it: "De Facto Death Panels." Read More

In Wash. Times op-ed, attorney says Palin's "death panel" claim is "dead-on" based on entirely unrelated Texas law
In an August 19 Washington Times op-ed, medical malpractice attorney Robert W. Painter pointed to the "unintended consequences" of Texas' 1999 Advanced Directives Act to argue that "for many states," Sarah Palin's claim that a provision of the House health care reform bill "would result in 'death panels' " is likely "dead-on." However, the House provision -- which allows Medicare to cover voluntary counseling sessions in which patients can make decisions about their end-of-life care -- has nothing to do with the relevant part of the Texas statute, which establishes procedures for doctors to follow when refusing to provide patient-directed treatment (including life-sustaining treatment) they consider inappropriate. Read More

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