Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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August 10, 2009

'IT'S NOT IN THE BILL'.... The health care discussion between Howard Dean and Newt Gingrich on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" yesterday was pretty good, and it covered a fair amount of ground in a short period of time. There was one exchange, though, that stood out for me.

Stephanopoulos had just finished highlighting Sarah Palin's bizarre attack on reform, including her allegation that President Obama wants to create a "death panel" as part of a "downright evil" system. The disgraced former House Speaker jumped in.

GINGRICH: But why -- why didn't you put up what Dr. Zeke Emanuel said? Because Dr. Zeke Emanuel, who's the chief adviser to the president and brother of the chief of staff, said in writing...

STEPHANOPOULOS: He's not the chief health care adviser. He's written three articles between 1996 and 2008 that include some of those phrases...

GINGRICH: Communal standards.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Those phrases appear nowhere in the bill. The only thing...let me just explain what's in the bill and then get you to respond to that. The only thing in the bill is they would allow Medicare to pay for what they say is voluntary counseling on end-of-life issues.

GINGRICH: I think people are very concerned, when you start talking about cost controls, that a bureaucracy -- we don't -- you're asking us to trust the government.... Communal standards historically is a very dangerous concept.

STEPHANOPOULOS: It's not in the bill.

There are a few interesting angles to this. Notice that Gingrich just casually insisted that Ezekiel Emanuel is "the chief adviser to the president." He was lying, and Stephanopoulos called him on it. Instead of acknowledging the error, Gingrich kept going, blasting a policy that isn't in the bill, and rationalizing his baseless attack by arguing that the public is "very concerned."

Well, perhaps Americans are "very concerned" because people like Gingrich keep making arguments that aren't true.

For that matter, the attacks on Dr, Emanuel's work can't stand up to scrutiny anyway.

Stephanopoulos deserves some credit for saying five words that should play a more prominent role in the larger debate: "It's not in the bill." Not, "Democrats say it's not in the bill." Not, "there's some debate about whether that's in the bill." Just, "It's not in the bill."

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (29)

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Comments

Good for Snuffleupagus. Too bad most people get to see reporting like last night's NBC Nightly News. Samantha Guthrie's report was an exemplar of "Shape of Earth: Views Differ" journalism. All the wild completely discredited bullshit from the right was presented on an equal footing with reality--and the viewer was given no hint that the stuff from the right was complete bullshit.

Any wonder people can be led to believe that Obama's healthcare reform will involve flying execution squads going to nursing homes around the country?

Posted by: Domage on August 10, 2009 at 8:06 AM | PERMALINK

Why is this blowhard invited to talk about healthcare? Does he really know anything about the subject? Perhaps the right has no spokesman who actually knows something?

I'm reading new warnings about swine flu coming back big-time soon, and wonder what a big outbreak would do to the healthcare debate. I'm guessing that helps the case for extending coverage fast.

Posted by: bob h on August 10, 2009 at 8:08 AM | PERMALINK

How long will it take until Stephanopoulos will be branded as a liberal left-wing hack?

(Slowly counting back from hundred)

Posted by: Vokoban on August 10, 2009 at 8:13 AM | PERMALINK

'Stephanopoulos deserves some credit for saying five words that should play a more prominent role in the larger debate: "It's not in the bill." Not, "Democrats say it's not in the bill." Not, "there's some debate about whether that's in the bill." Just, "It's not in the bill."'

Well, I think Stepphie has done something that other commentators and journalists haven't done: read the bill.

If more folks who report the news were actually informed about the issue, they, like Stepphie, could proclaim, "it's not in the bill". Until they become more informed, though, we will continue to see them parrot republican canards as fact because they don't know better.

Posted by: ChrisNBama on August 10, 2009 at 8:13 AM | PERMALINK

Democrats need to make this a pro-life issue. Every year an estimated 18.000 Americans die early because they don't have health coverage.

http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=10367&page=161

When debating people like Gingrich. Democrats need to ask whether they believe that human life is sacred, but only before it's born or whether they think that human life is sacred, but not as sacred as corporate profits.


Posted by: SteveT on August 10, 2009 at 8:18 AM | PERMALINK

Frank Luntz must have told Newt that "communal standards" was found to seem scary in his focus groups. Because Newt just says the term over and over again, and in a way entirely disconnected to the meaning of the term (actually it's more commonly phrased as "community rating").

Posted by: kth on August 10, 2009 at 8:19 AM | PERMALINK

Well, perhaps Americans are "very concerned" because people like Gingrich keep making arguments that aren't true.

in other words, gingrich is a fucking liar. and wee george should have made an announcement at the conclusion of his program that newtie will no longer be invited to participate in his round panel discussions, until he apologizes for lying to the viewers.

Posted by: linda on August 10, 2009 at 8:24 AM | PERMALINK

"Well, I think Stepphie has done something that other commentators and journalists haven't done: read the bill."

No.

Stephanapolous works for a company (Disney) that isn't involved in the healthcare business.

NBC, MSNBC, and CNBC "journalists", on the other hand, work for a company (General Electric) that gets a significant part of its revenues and profits from the healthcare business.

Folks never seem to be aware that General Electric makes most of its money off of financial services and healthcare, which are the two big areas the government is trying to regulate. This provides a constant bias to NBC, MSNBC, and CNBC coverage of healthcare and financial service reform that is immensely hostile to the public interest.

Posted by: Petey on August 10, 2009 at 8:24 AM | PERMALINK

Frank Luntz must have told Newt that "communal standards" was found to seem scary in his focus groups.

Sounds too close to Communes, which we know are run and populated by DFH's, and god knows we don't what them administering medicine since it will just be a combination of Dope, Acid and Buddhist chanting ;>

Posted by: martin on August 10, 2009 at 8:26 AM | PERMALINK

It's pretty telling that we've reached a level where we must applaud when journalists call out lies as they are told by hacks.

It's pretty amazing, really, what happens when journalists actually do call a spade a spade--there is a hunger for it amongst large swathes of the viewing public (e.g., Olbermann, Maddow, Sanchez occasionally). But I suppose the public is not the constituency of journalists, and hasn't been for quite awhile.

Posted by: terraformer on August 10, 2009 at 8:33 AM | PERMALINK

There's always a slant to politics. Politicians present their views to make their own pov sound so much better than the other guy's. That's normal and has been going on for thousands of years. It's the outright lying that has soured me so much on Republicans. They've been doing it for a long long time -- including all through Bush's presidency when they held all the reins of power & did pretty much what they pleased anyway. And still they had to lie. Why? Because the truth would have not gone down with most Americans.

After all this time they've come to expect that free pass, that wink nudge nod from the interviewer. Well, you know what? It shouldn't be allowed. The neocons are a good example of this. It's a failed ideology. But still people like Kristol get to spout whatever lies they want & they don't get openly called on it. I don't think these people should be silenced, though in many cases, as with Gingrich, I just don't see why this person's views would be anymore important than Freddie Palooka at Citi Field. But I do think that it's high time that journalists did their job and called lies lies. Most journalists don't even have a grasp of what they're talking about. There're Dr Maddow & Keith Olbermann. Is there anyone else who actually substantively explores issues?

I think once a person has been shown to be lying, their credibility should be qualified for what it is: nonexistent. Maybe if some of these liars had to face that sort of embarrassment, they'd be less inclined to lie in future.

Posted by: zhak on August 10, 2009 at 8:35 AM | PERMALINK

"communal standards" --- isn't that similar to the "community standards" the right likes to write into anti-pornography legislation? Or even the "reasonable person" standard of common law?

Posted by: sj on August 10, 2009 at 8:41 AM | PERMALINK

I think they need to install "Tinglers" in the chairs of guests who lie,and don't apologize every time they do -they get zapped.

Posted by: johnnymags on August 10, 2009 at 8:54 AM | PERMALINK

Its a good response from George, but you point to the common tactic used by Gingrich and others in these types of discussions. Even after being refuted they just go on repeating the same lie, or in Gingrich's case, adding a new level of detail to the same lie. If you don't know the issues, you don't know that Gingrich is repeating himself. George knows the issue, so he repeats the basic truth here, "its not in the bill."

One way for journalists to point that their guests are repeating the same false argument is to step back and ask them about it. Its unconventional and maybe Newt would get mad. That should make George and his producers happy: that moment would go viral on ABC.com and youtube.

Something like: "Newt, I've pointed out that the scary possibilities that you mention are in Obama's healthcare reform are simply not in the bills. So there is no factual basis for this fear. But you continue to make the same points. Why do you persist in repeating these (pick one) --falsehoods-- lies-- mistatements?

Posted by: KJf on August 10, 2009 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK

Right Wing meme: "My mind is made up, don't confuse me with the facts."

-and anytime an inconvenient fact confronts them, the Newts of the world re-enforce their 'belief' with the day's Big Lie.

Posted by: DAY on August 10, 2009 at 9:01 AM | PERMALINK

The TNR story is an attempt to sway me from slandering my fellow physician.

I'm not going to fall for that. Remember I'm a scientist.

Posted by: Mlke K on August 10, 2009 at 9:19 AM | PERMALINK

Stephanopoulos has past experience with policy and has past experience with Gingrich. Maybe it was long ago, maybe Newt assumes it's all bygones and no one remembers-- but maybe Stephanopoulos isn't the first test case one would try for that assumption.

Posted by: MattF on August 10, 2009 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

Gingrich could go on Stephanopoulos' program and argue that the moon is made of green cheese and his fans would believe him, in spite of all evidence that George produced to the contrary. Who says something is more important to wingnuts than what is actually said.

Posted by: dr sardonicus on August 10, 2009 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

If only the New York Times had as much spine. Read today's "primer" on the health care proposals. Here's a typical passage from the story:
--
Conservative critics say the legislation could limit end-of-life care and even encourage euthanasia. Moreover, some assert, it would require people to draw up plans saying how they want to die.

These concerns appear to be unfounded.
--
APPEAR to be unfounded?

Posted by: Melissa on August 10, 2009 at 10:01 AM | PERMALINK

I thought Howard Dean was great during that segment. In the part I saw, I really liked him including the comment about Health care reform being good for small businesses. The GOPers don't own that issue either.

We haven't heard much talk about this since Tom Dasche ran into tax problems but Howard Dean for Health Care Czar!

Posted by: leo on August 10, 2009 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

Even Stephanopoulos's colleague Jake Tapper, who never met an anti-Obama gotcha he didn't like, knows that Ezekiel Emanuel's words are being distorted for political purposes.

Posted by: Steve M. on August 10, 2009 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

Georgie Boy also made the point, not made often enough, that there is not ONE bill, so there is no "the" bill.

Seems like maybe he's got a little teeny pair growing there.

Finally.

Now if he'll just stop inviting extremely annoying right wing women pundits on his show. Can ANYONE stand to listen to Peggy Noonan talk? Or maybe it's something about being Irish. I can't stand to listen to Maureen Dowd either.

Posted by: Sarah Barracuda on August 10, 2009 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

Why even book Gingrich in the first place? It's not like anyone is shocked when he pulls lies out of his backporch but then everyone acts surprised and immediately elevates his perceived status by knocking down his statements.

The dugan, besides being lower than whale crap, isn't knowledgeable or credible and ABC still gives him a seat at the table? What, were all of the lobotomy patients already booked?

Posted by: BigSky on August 10, 2009 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

Gingrich can't even keep his lies straight.

First he claimed that his fake RightWing front group, the so-called 'Center for Health Transformation' had read all the bills and understood what was in them.

After Stephanopoulos pointed out that his assertion was not in the bill, he switched to, well the bill is over a thousand pages and nobody knows what's in it and we would have to trust the government.

Which is it Newt ?

Did your people read the bill and are too stupid to understand it, or they didn't read the bill because it's too long and you have no idea what's in it ?

Pick a lie !

Posted by: Joe Friday on August 10, 2009 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe George is getting tired of Newt's lies as well...since he's allowed to lie on TV so often. But did you notice that George referred to Newt as "Mr. Speaker". I was shocked by George addressing Newt as "Mr. Speaker"...lending credibility to Newt when it is undeserved.

Was "Mr. Former Speaker" too much of a mouth full or what?

Posted by: bjobotts on August 10, 2009 at 7:37 PM | PERMALINK

Stephanopoulos defended his friend's brother when Gingrich was straightforward in revealing that Rahm Emanuel's brother works for Obama (nepotism!) -- In reality, Dr. Zeke Emanuel has tremendous influence on the health care that Obama is cramming through. George has not read "the bill" -- it's not written; but he is "connected" through Rahm.
Gingrich called Dr. Zeke Emanuel what he is...chief health care advisor. This is not his official title in the administration; but as Rahm's brother he was hired to put forth his ideas ( a "hired gun.") READ HIS WRITTEN STATEMENTS about WHO should be treated and how well. Gingrich, whatever you think of him, got George ruffled; notice that George didn't say what "those phrases" were -- they are Dr. Emanuel's incriminating remarks about who should live and who should forget being treated. That's the problem with George's conflict of interest. Read the Dr. Emanuel's philosophy on health care....then pray that you never are old or disabled. Do your due diligence on what this guy says -- from his OWN written words, read one complete article and you'll get the idea.

Posted by: Pcafe on August 10, 2009 at 8:33 PM | PERMALINK

Pcafe,

"Gingrich called Dr. Zeke Emanuel what he is...chief health care advisor."

No he is not.


"READ HIS WRITTEN STATEMENTS about WHO should be treated and how well."

He's written THREE articles in the last 15 years, and it's his personal opinion.


"notice that George didn't say what 'those phrases' were"

Who cares if they're not in any of the bills ?

Posted by: Joe Friday on August 10, 2009 at 10:24 PM | PERMALINK

the point was that Dr. Emanuel is the Special Health Policy adviser or the the main guy, the head honcho when it comes to the health care reform......he's there to make policy. Don't you think his personal opinions had something to do with putting him in a power position??? His attitude about medicine and health that he has freely discussed is that everyone gets covered. Choices and judgments are made....elderly and disabled "sometimes will not be allowed best treatment because of cost" and the 'judgment' that they are not productive enough to deserve it.
The "phrases" are not in the bills. The "concepts" will be.
Also, as for the special "end of life" counseling and directives -- that is done for everyone, no charge in any hospital via the form and explanation. Reference to "end of life" should not be in any health care bill. If they want to cover hospice or those extra charges that is very different. Too bad you are not experienced with the process. I am, and I know exactly what the very lacking in compassion Dr. Emainuel has in mind. Save a dollar on one, give it to another......after 65, good luck if you have a medical issue.

Posted by: pcafe on August 11, 2009 at 1:49 AM | PERMALINK

pcafe,

"the point was that Dr. Emanuel is the Special Health Policy adviser or the the main guy, the head honcho when it comes to the health care reform"

No. He isn't.


"The 'phrases' are not in the bills. The 'concepts' will be."

But they are not.

Healthcare bills have already passed the three House committees, and four of five Senate committees (Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committees). Only the Senate Finance Committee remains, and that's the one that currently has the most Republican input.

Your "concepts" are nowhere to be found.


"Also, as for the special 'end of life' counseling and directives -- that is done for everyone"

No. It isn't.


"If they want to cover hospice or those extra charges that is very different."

Medicare already covers Hospice. What it does not cover is optional voluntary counseling in regards to Advanced Directives, Living Wills, and other End of Life OPTIONS, which is what was proposed.


"Too bad you are not experienced with the process."

Too bad you are clueless to what has been proposed.

Posted by: Joe Friday on August 11, 2009 at 4:06 AM | PERMALINK
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