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In an August 12 dispatch on a presidential appearance in New Hampshire, the wire service reported that “Obama assailed ‘wild misrepresentations’ of his health care plan…, taking on the role of fact-checker-in-chief for his top domestic priority.” The AP thus erased the distinction between journalism and politics, or between truth and power.
A day earlier, the Washington bureau of McClatchy Newspapers published an article that began:
Two independent organizations that are widely respected for objective fact-checking on topics of political controversy are FactCheck.org, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at
the University of Pennsylvania, and Politifact, a Pulitzer-prize winning project of the St. Petersburg Times.
Their research into critiques of the health care legislation pending before Congress was cited Tuesday in a memo from staff to two Democrats who are helping to shape the legislation—Reps. George Miller of California, chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee. Both panels approved similar versions of the legislation.
The House Democrats’ memo, with summaries of fact-checking research and links to the fact-checkers’ Web sites, follows.
The rest of the story was simply a reprint of the Miller-Van Hollen press release. McClatchy had been well regarded by Bush administration foes for its muckraking foreign-policy investigations. Now it is reduced to letting congressmen from the party in power literally write the news.
David Stout of the New York Times went so far as to “fact-check” a question at a town meeting:
“Why does the government want to rush into this bill when many don’t want it?” Senator Ben Cardin, Democrat of Maryland, was asked at a “town meeting” in Hagerstown. “Why are you rushing this?”
Calmly, the senator replied in a snippet shown on CNN, “We’ve got to take as much time as we need to get it right.” And he added, “The status quo is unacceptable.”
The senator was too polite (or intent on survival) to correct his questioner by pointing out that there is not one bill yet, but rather several proposals working their way through five committees in both houses of Congress, and that to talk of “the government” as a single entity makes no sense, at least in this context, because of the divisions between Republicans and Democrats, House and Senate, Capitol Hill and the White House.
Stout did offer this concession: “As for any implication that there is a ‘rush’ to enact health care legislation, President Obama may have been responsible for that, at least in part, by calling for final action before the House and Senate adjourned for August.” You don’t say.
One of the bitterest arguments in the summer health care debate arose when Sarah Palin, in an essay on her Facebook page, raised the specter of “death panels” denying treatment to sick or disabled patients. Her language was hyperbolic, but it underscored legitimate concerns about rationing of care and financial incentives for doctors to provide end-of-life counseling aimed at encouraging patients to decline treatment.
An item on the Los Angeles Times website provided perhaps the best encapsulation of the media’s pro-Obama approach:
The Palin claim about “death panels” was so widely discredited that the White House has begun openly quoting it in an effort to show that opponents of the healthcare overhaul are misinformed.
The fearless, independent journalists of the Los Angeles Times justify their assertion that the Palin claim was “widely discredited” with an appeal to authority—the authority of the White House, which is to say, the other side in the debate.
This is the flip side of liberal media bias. Along with unfair coverage of Republican administrations, it leads to cheerleading coverage of Democratic ones. If Dan Rather gets his presidential commission, it may be the death panel for independent journalism.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?