Thursday, August 27, 2009

Media Matters Daily Summary 08-27-09

Conservative media invoke Wellstone memorial smear in predicting politicization of Kennedy's death
Following Sen. Ted Kennedy's death, conservative media figures have returned to the smear that the memorial service for Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-MN) became "a political rally" to suggest that progressives will excessively politicize Kennedy's death. But as now-Sen. Al Franken documented at length, the claim that Wellstone's memorial was politicized is a myth based on distortions propagated by the conservative media. Read More

Print media transcribe GOP excuse -- Kennedy's absence -- for obstruction on health reform
The Associated Press and The Washington Post repeated the Republican claim that Sen. Ted Kennedy's absence from the health care debate prevented lawmakers from reaching a bipartisan compromise and that had Kennedy been present, agreement on health care reform would have been more likely. Several progressive commentators have identified this talking point as GOP spin intended to disguise Republicans' obstructionism, with's Joan Walsh, for example, stating that "absolutely no evidence supports that point of view," and blogger Ezra Klein noting that Kennedy's committee has already reported out a bill. Read More

Radio hosts use Kennedy's death to fearmonger on health care rationing
Conservative radio hosts Rush Limbaugh and Tom Marr have used Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's death to attack health care reform, baselessly suggesting that if reform passes, elderly cancer patients -- like Kennedy was -- will be "denied" treatments or their treatments will be "rationed." Limbaugh claimed that Kennedy "chose to exercise as many options as were available to him to prolong his life" and asserted that "to put his name on a health care bill that denies that to other people" is "hypocrisy." Read More

Hannity falsely claims health bill doesn't have "any restrictions" on undocumented immigrants
Purporting to quote from a Congressional Research Service (CRS) report, Sean Hannity falsely claimed that the health care reform bill "does not contain any restrictions on non-citizens whether legally or illegally present" and that there is "proof that illegal immigrants could very well be covered by the Democrats' health care plan." In fact, Hannity distorted the CRS quote; and the bills under consideration do prohibit undocumented immigrants from receiving subsidies to purchase health insurance. Read More

Another McCaughey backtrack: How many more before media discredit her?
Serial misinformer Betsy McCaughey again backtracked on a false claim she made about health care reform, now writing in The Wall Street Journal that White House adviser Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel believes reform must include "redefining" the Hippocratic Oath; in May, Media Matters for America noted McCaughey had falsely claimed Emanuel wanted to "eliminate" the oath. McCaughey's claim is the latest in a series of instances in which she was caught making an outright false claim about health care reform and backtracked, but nonetheless continued to attack and distort progressives' policies without acknowledging her backtrack from her prior falsehood. Read More

WSJ ignores administration's plan to close "tax gap" in knock on Obama's handling of deficit
Arguing that President Obama "needs a believable business plan" for the deficit, Wall Street Journal economics editor David Wessel falsely claimed that the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board (PERAB) "has been told to move the tax burden around, not to raise more money." In fact, in announcing the board's Task Force on Tax Reform, Peter Orszag emphasized that the task force would be charged with finding "ways of being even more aggressive on reducing the tax gap" -- the difference between the amount of taxes that are owed and the amount that are voluntarily paid on time -- which Orszag said could potentially increase revenue by $300 billion a year or more. Read More

Karl's evidence that Kennedy's death hasn't "inspired newfound unity on health care reform" predates it
ABC's Jonathan Karl claimed that if "last night's town hall meeting in Phoenix is any indication" of whether Sen. Ted Kennedy's death will "inspire newfound unity on health care reform," "the answer seems to be no." But the video Karl aired to support his claim was from an August 25 event that occurred before Kennedy's death, not from "last night." Read More

Conservative media attack Dems for playing "death card" while using Kennedy's death to attack health care
Following Sen. Ted Kennedy's death, several conservative media figures -- including Rush Limbaugh -- have attacked Democrats for purportedly attempting to use his passing to stifle debate and enact health care reform legislation. But conservative media figures -- also including Limbaugh -- have used Kennedy's death to attack health care reform, baselessly suggesting that if reform passes, elderly cancer patients -- as Kennedy was -- will be "denied" treatments or that their treatments will be "rationed." Read More

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