Why Watch Fox?

I don’t understand why people watch Fox. Even if that is the viewpoint they want to hear, why not just read GOP press releases directly and cut out the middle man?

(My current Facebook status)

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Factcheck.org Exposes Republican Malarkey On Health Care

The previous posts note how the Republicans are distorting the financial regulation legislation. Factcheck.org has put out yet another report on the misrepresentations being spread about the health care legislation. Here is just a brief summary of their findings:

We’ve seldom seen a piece of legislation so widely misrepresented, and misunderstood, as the new health care law. We stopped counting the number of articles and items we turned out on the subject after the total reached 100.

Some of that is understandable. The debate went on for more than a year, while the different House and Senate bills changed their shape constantly.  The final law was the product of an awkward two-step legislative dance that first enacted the Senate’s version, then quickly amended it with a reconciliation “fix.” No wonder people are confused.

And even now the misrepresentations continue. The new law is no longer a moving target, but some opponents persist in making false or exaggerated claims about it. Our inboxes are filled with messages asking about assertions that the new law:

  • Requires patients to be implanted with microchips. (No, it doesn’t.)
  • Cuts benefits for military families and retirees. (No. The TRICARE program isn’t affected.)
  • Exempts Muslims from the requirement to obtain coverage. (Not specifically. It does have a religious exemption, but that is intended for Old Order Amish.)
  • Allows insurance companies to continue denying coverage to children with preexisting conditions. (Insurance companies have agreed not to exploit a loophole that might have allowed this.)
  • Will require 16,500 armed IRS agents to enforce. (No. Criminal penalties are waived.)
  • Gives President Obama a Nazi-like “private army.” (No. It provides a reserve corps of doctors and other health workers for emergencies.)
  • “Exempts” House and Senate members. (No. Their coverage may not be as good as before, in fact.)
  • Covers erectile-dysfunction drugs for sex offenders. (Just as it was before the new law, those no longer in jail can buy any insurance plan they choose.)
  • Provides federal funding for abortions. (Not directly. But neither side in the abortion debate is happy with the law.)

More detail on these points is provided at the Factcheck.org site.

The Right Wing Noise Machine’s Awesome Ability To Create Its Own Reality

On issues such as health care and the stimulus the Democrats were right on the issues but the Republicans are winning the spin war. Paul Krugman compared the Democrats to Lucy and the Football, fearing they are not anticipating the Republican response to financial reform:

I have a theory about the problem here. My understanding is that Obama officials have looked at the polls, which show that the public overwhelmingly favors cracking down on Wall Street; so they assumed that the GOP wouldn’t dare stand in the way. But they seem not to have learned, even now, that the right has an awesome ability to create its own reality: that Mitch McConnell et al would stand in the way of reform while claiming to be taking a stand against Wall Street.

Nor can you count on the truth to sink in with the public. The conventions of he-said-she-said reporting, among other things, make it surprisingly easy to get away with even the most obvious hypocrisy.

And let’s be clear: there’s a sort of tribal thing going on (and I don’t necessarily mean race, although that’s part of it). The hard right has managed to convince a large number of Americans that it consists of people like them, whereas progressives are alien and untrustworthy; in the face of that, rational arguments don’t make much of a dent.

To break through that, you need hard-hitting campaigns and simple slogans. And I have a sinking feeling that once again, the Obama team is going straight for the capillaries. Let’s hope they prove me wrong.

I think the problem is not that the Obama administration fails to recognize that Republicans have an “awesome ability to create its own reality,” but that they have not been able to overcome this. I provided an example in the previous post which demonstrates that the Obama administration is aware of the problem. White House economic adviser Austan Goolsbee showed such awareness in his characterization of the Republican response to financial reform:

Everybody knows a consultant just handed them that line and they’re just reading it. It doesn’t matter what’s in the bill. It could be a bill about breakfast cereal and they’re going to say this is a bailout bill.

Mark Halperin Accuses Republicans Of “Willfully Misreading” Financial Reform Bill

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

I’ve often been critical of Mark Halperin for describing what he calls the “freak show” in politics and then proceeding to parrot the claims coming from the “freak show.” I was pleasantly surprised to find that Halperin took a stand on Morning Joe yesterday (video above).

During a discussion of the Republican response to the financial reform legislation, Joe Scarborough asked Halperin to defend the Republican position. The Republican position on the financial reform legislation, as with most recent Republican positions, is counter to reality with Republicans falsely claiming that the reform bill will lead to a permanent bailout. Here is a portion of the discussion:

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Just this once, defend the Republican position.

MARK HALPERIN: I cannot defend what they’re doing.


SCARBOROUGH: Look at you! Look at you!


HALPERIN: They are willfully misreading the bill or they are engaged in a cynical attempt to keep the president from achieving something.

White House economic adviser Austan Goolsbee summed up the Republican response:

Everybody knows a consultant just handed them that line and they’re just reading it. It doesn’t matter what’s in the bill. It could be a bill about breakfast cereal and they’re going to say this is a bailout bill.

Steve Benen points out the significance of Mark Halperin refusing to repeat the Republican claims: “Note to Republicans: when even Mark Halperin is calling you out for lying, the conventional wisdom is turning against you.”