Playing the Julian Assange to Fox News’ Western Civilization, Media Matters intercepted emails that showed media bias at Fox News:
At the height of the health care reform debate last fall, Bill Sammon, Fox News’ controversial Washington managing editor, sent a memo directing his network’s journalists not to use the phrase “public option.”
Instead, Sammon wrote, Fox’s reporters should use “government option” and similar phrases — wording that a top Republican pollster had recommended in order to turn public opinion against the Democrats’ reform efforts.
Sammon suggested various terms, which stressed that the public option would be government-run health insurance – when in reality, the public option would in fact be run by… well, the government.
But the intrepid bias-hunters at Media Matters have a point – words make a difference. Media Matters’ counterpart on the right, Newsbusters, has taken this on by pointing out that maintaining current tax rates is not an increase in government spending – a misnomer used by CNN and other media outlets. (As an aside, Republicans have failed miserably in defining the expiration of the “Bush Tax Cuts” as a de facto tax increase.)
While factually accurate, describing the public option as “government health care” does convey a negative connotation. But maybe the question isn’t in the word choice among Fox News correspondents. A better question, perhaps, might be posed to the Administration and the President: Why hide the government health care program behind euphemisms?
Claims of racial epithets and gay-bashing have diffused the impact of the crowds that descended on the Capitol last weekend. The images on TV of citizens rallying by the thousands were amazing; the allegations that some of those citizens used ugly, personal, and unintelligent attacks.
Democrats have used the alleged incidents to criticize tea partiers – and it certainly gives them a convenient way to shift the debate away from the massive amounts of people who showed up to oppose a government-mandated reorganization of the health care system.
Far be it from me to say that Democrats are trying to use race to scare people out of siding with their opposition. But it wouldn’t be the first time.
The real problem here isn’t what racial epithets may or may not have been used. Anyone who has worked in legitimate Republican and conservative circles knows that racists tend to be booted out as soon as they are discovered. The racial arsonists of the left start enough fires on their own, they don’t need any kerosene.
Democrats like to throw it back in Scott Brown’s face that he voted for the Massachusetts health bill back in 2006. Mitt Romney gets it thrown back in his face a lot, too. That bill was the Mogwai to the current Gremlin of a proposal that Congress is trying to pass-without-passing.
Those critics don’t like to mention the problems Massachusetts is having now. And Romney and Brown aren’t about to issue the mea culpa the country needs to hear now.
As Bay State native Dan Flynn chronicles, the Massachusetts plan has increased coverage but also insurance costs. State treasurer Tim Cahill, a Democrat turned Independent, railed against the plan.
“This has been tried, and it failed,” Romney or Brown could plead of the current incarnation. “In Massachusetts, we tried this. It cost the state more, it cost patients more, and though there were more people insured they got less care for their money.” They might even quote Franklin Roosevelt: “It is common sense to take a method and try it: If it fails, admit it frankly and try another.”
The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein revealed yesterday that Harry Reid and others feel like the filibuster has been “abused” because it takes days for the Senate to enact cloture votes. (It sparked an interesting discussion in the Post’s message boards, as well.)
“I file cloture” — the motion to end a filibuster — “to move to discuss the bill on Monday,” Reid explained. “That takes two days to ripen. We don’t have a vote till Wednesday. Once that’s done, Republicans have 30 hours to do nothing. After the 30 hours is up, you’re on the bill. If there’s no amendment offered” — remember, amendments can be filibustered, too — “you file cloture to move to the vote. It takes two days and then another 30 hours. So that’s 60 hours plus four days to vote on the bill. That happened 67 times last year.” You do the math.
One way to make the lawmaking process more efficient would be to reduce the number of people in the legislature, or to merge lawmaking authority with the executive branch. Cuba, Venezuela, Iraq, North Korea, Germany, France, and others enacted similar systems at various times in history… though it hasn’t gone well.
Otherwise, we all may have to accept that our legislature’s inefficiency is by design. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, of course.
The filibuster exists to maintain the Senate’s deliberative nature, so the best reform might be to force actual filibusters. Senators who want to extend debate should actually have to talk.
When Republicans made the same grumblings years ago, they missed an opportunity to demonstrate Democratic obstructionism on judicial nominees. The GOP could have made political hay out of CSPAN clips of Democrats talking endlessly or reading the phone book to keep debate going. Republican parties in the home states of the filibuster-ers could have organized “Save the Judicial Branch” rallies to protest their talkative Senators.
The problem for Democrats now is that the filibuster is blocking an unpopular piece of legislation. If I were a Senate Republican, I would welcome the chance to speak on national TV about the future of health care, about federal spending, about the risks of government running anything, and the bribes Democrats are using to win support. And even the bill’s passage may be a losing proposition.
At the very least, we should all agree that the filibuster should be maintained so that the eventual remake of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington makes sense. All in favor… say die:
TechPresident has an intriguing behind-the-scenes look at technology behind “On the Air,” the DNC/Organizing for America talk radio call-in project. OFA compiled the data the site needed (dial-in information for all those shows) from volunteers thanks to a program that emerged from their Innovation Labs division. The program itself is impressive enough, but the idea of a creative division spitballing ideas is a bold step.
Organizations funded by other people’s donations have to be able to show results, or else the gravy train stops. A labs division, which may produce one tangible product for every 25 they conceive, seems like a poor investment. Considering the usefulness of that 4% yield, it’s usually worth the investment.
To use OFA’s example, they now have a database of talk radio programs across the country. In addition to national programs like the Glenn Becks and Rush Limbaughs, they also have good, current information for regional and local shows. And don’t forget, OFA still has a massive list of email addresses and – especially important – mobile numbers, which they can filter for voters in a certain state or Congressional district. So if you live in a district with a competitive House race in September, you could easily get a text message asking you to dial in to your local talk radio show, with the number included.
On the Air is a good innovation, but the underlying technology could have even great applications down the road. For DNC/OFA donors, this should prove the labs experiment is a successful one.