Ana Marie Cox – Media Whore: “I Think That It’s a Wonderful Expression of Democracy – I’m Not Sure If They’re AstroTurfed or Not Myself”

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CNN TRANSCRIPT AUGUST 9, 2009

Teabag-Cox

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: Thanks, John. It’s one of the oldest rituals of democracy. Election officials getting an earful from the voters, but a handful of high decibel critics at a spate of town hall meeting on health care reform have turned out to be a magnet for the media. You know how it works. The meeting might be dull, 99 audience members might be civil, but one screamer draws the cameras. You have probably seen some of this footage constantly replayed on television and across the Web.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The cash for clunkers program is —

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You’re lying to me!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That’s right!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are you waiting for?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don’t have sophisticated language. I recognize a liar when I see one.

CROWD: Just say no! Just say no! Just say no! Just say no!

LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: When they could no longer ignore the anti-Obama voters, Democrats began to dismiss them and demonize them as the hired guns of the insurance companies or Brooks Brothers protesters.

KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC: When Hamas does it or Hezbollah does it, it is called terrorism. Why should Republican lawmakers and the AstroTurf groups organizing on behalf of the health care industry be viewed any differently?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: Now the press trying to unravel allegations that the Republicans have planted some of these protesters and countercharges that the Democrats are trying to discredit legitimate dissent.

Joining us now to talk about the coverage of President Obama’s health plan and whether he’s getting a bit overexposed on television, in New York, Mark Halperin, editor-at-large and senior political analyst for “TIME” magazine, and author of the blog “The Page.” S.E. Cupp, blogger and the co-author of “Why You’re Wrong About the Right.” And here in Washington, Ana Marie Cox, national correspondent for Air America Radio and a columnist for “Playboy” magazine.

Mark Halperin, are the media playing up the loudest and the angriest of these protesters to the point where it distorts what’s what’s going on at most of these town hall meetings?

HALPERIN: Yes, it distorts it and it’s also bad for America. I’m embarrassed about what’s going on as an American. I’m not an advocate for any position on the president’s proposals, but I think this is, Howie, something you have written about and seen for years, the lowest common denominator, people taking video that is meaningless.

Yes, there should be discussion. Dissent is fine. I don’t care why the protesters are showing up, but this is a horrible breakdown of our political culture and our media culture to allow people who are going in with the intent to disrupt to become the story. The biggest issue in the health care debate, things like, should there be a public plan, completely ignored by all media and crowded out the discussion by stunts and gimmicks, and the White House has exacerbated it by attacking back on the same style.

KURTZ: Ana Marie Cox, Mark Halperin says this is a breakdown in the media culture, but we couldn’t not cover these people, and they do have a right to be heard, don’t they?

COX: Right, they do. And I actually do not think it’s a breakdown of democracy. I think that it’s a wonderful expression of democracy. I’m not sure if they’re AstroTurfed or not myself. I think they probably aren’t, but I think that’s almost a worse sign for the Republican Party.

I think this is actually the death throes of a dying Republican Party, or at least in this forum, and the not sort of the start of something new.

KURTZ: S.E. Cupp, you have to admit, if you want to look at the media’s performance here, that the various outlets, and particularly television, are giving these critics ample air time. [Read more…]

Healthcare Reform: What a Week

by mcjoan at D A I L Y  K O S

George_Takei

Mon Aug 10, 2009 at 07:16:03 AM PDT

These are times that try a progressive healthcare blogger’s soul. It shouldn’t be a surprise that a political establishment that looks at the fact that the Bush administration, led by Dick Cheney in every venal step, decided to start torturing people picked up in Afghanistan to amass false confessions about connections between bin Laden and Saddam so that they would have their “justification” for their war on choice, with nothing more than a yawn can report as straight across “news” that Sarah Palin thinks Obama is coming to kill her baby. But it still astounds that this is the new “normal.” Just unfathomable. And that’s what last week was.

The image that will be indelibly linked in my mind I saw in one of the reports on the Rachel Maddow show with video from a townhall meeting held by Rep. John Dingell, and referenced in gdunn’s diary. There’s a young, disabled woman (pictured in the diary), speaking to the group propped up by her crutches, trying to explain what she’s been through since her insurance company dropped her last year and her inability to get coverage now because of her “preexisting condition.” She’s trying to tell her story, and an older woman stands a few rows back from her and screams, her face distorted and ugly in it’s anger and ignorance and selfish extremism, “I shoudn’t have to pay for your health care.” And these are normal, patriotic, “concerned” citizens? The ones abusing disabled people, hanging people in effigy, destroying property, making death threats. (Oh, and also insurance and pharmaceutical industry shills and Republican operatives.) This is political discourse now, and Cokie Roberts says it’s the liberals’ fault. I guess she and Rahm Emanuel have that in common.

That’s the week we had.

Other stuff happened, too. The obscene amounts of money was in the news again. Hmmm, suppose there’s a link between the $1.4 million plus spent per day by industry trying to kill this and the townhall screamers?

Max Baucus set deadline number 578 for when he’d be done with his bill, September 15. Jon Kyl took his turn as the GOP concern troll to say that there’s no way. And to add to the bipartsan fun, Chuck Grassley, in an extreme display of Senate comity and decorum, used his colleague Ted Kennedy’s illness to lie about the proposed public option. So Democrats want to kill granny, Sarah Palin’s kid, and Ted Kennedy, for those of you keeping score at home.

Bipartisan negotiations in the Baucus committee seemingly continue unabated.

Billy Tauzin created a stir when he leaked a White House/Baucus deal with PhRMA that would have blocked proposals in the legislation to extract cost savings from them beyond an agreed-upon $80 billion through price negotiations or rebates. Then it got confusing, with some Dem Senators saying that the White House told them there was no deal, while at the same time the White House was reaffirming it. The week ended with the White House backing out of a chunk of the deal, and with many Dems (those not named Baucus) with a bad taste in their mouths. The most disturbing aspect of this story is the extent to which the White House is using Baucus, knowing what we already know about what is going to be lacking in the Baucus plan: namely, a public option.

This week, the primary media story is likely to continue to be the townhalls, since they’ll make good copy. The behind the scenes story will be the fight for a real public option, and not some watered down co-op system. Stay tuned.

Pretty Damn Disgusting That StephaStabaClint had Michelle Malkin on This Week

Pretty damn disgusting that Stephanopoulos had Michelle Malkin on This Week.

If ever there were a “Jump the Shark” moment for “Television Journalism” -I’d wager that this will eventually be the winner.

This is a woman, if you don’t know and you should, that claims Obama isn’t a citizen and about ten other vile things that I don’t want my brain to focus on cause I’m dealing with 4 yr. olds and want them to have a happy childhood.

But Stephanopoulos had this human on his serious News show and this is why I’m afraid Mr. Obama is doomed.  For his Presidency.

It looks like this Health Care Bill will be a watered-down version of what should have gotten done this time.

DC is so hard for a Bill any Bill-there’s a new talking point this week in DC that Obama is finished-forever-if this bill doesn’t get passed. And we gotta get some Republicans on board so they won’t trash the President TOO bad when they’re out campaigning next year.

Hooey of course and I betcha that No Bill would actually be the better call. That probably won’t happen and it’s a shame.

And traitors and liars like Michelle Malkin are truly mucking up the debate by scaring the rubes with talk about Euthanizing the Elderly and The Socialist President and Obama is going to Take Your Guns.

And the Press fails to mention the LA Fitness shooter’s two allusions to Obama in his diary.

It’s getting really scary out there in no-job America.

David Brinkley just puked in his grave.

Health Care Industry Operates Shadow Congress of Lobbyists

Sunlight Foundation

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The Washington Post reports today that the health care industry, in its attempt to influence the debate over health care reform, has hired at least 350 former government staffers and former members of Congress to lobby on the issue. With the many connections these former government workers have, particularly former members of Congress or congressional chiefs of staff, they will have near saturation coverage of the 535 current members of Congress. They also are operating with seemingly bottomless funding. The industry is currently spending $1.4 million a week on lobbying. Perhaps, the most unparrelled lobbying campaign ever.

Now the Post story has a few caveats that indicate that this lobbying campaign is probably larger than their reporting shows. For one:

The analysis identified more than 350 former government aides, each representing an average of four firms or trade groups. That tally does not include lobbyists who did not report their earlier government experience, such as PhRMA President W.J. “Billy” Tauzin, a former Republican congressman from Louisiana. Federal law does not require providing such detail.

Lobbying disclosure reports contain a field for listing prior government work, but this field is often left empty by lobbyists with government experience. If someone like Billy Tauzin, who is the poster boy for everything wrong with the revolving door, does not list his previous work as a leading lawmaker, what hope do we have for the many lesser former government workers to list their previous government work. I’d assume that the number of former government employees working in this campaign far exceeds 350.

One other aspect of the story highlights something which we’ve discussed here, lobbying contacts. The real problem with the revolving door is the unusual amount of access that former government officials, particularly members of Congress, have to current government officials. And that includes the ability to meet, call, or email with staffers or lawmakers to push their client’s agenda. Of course, Congress does not require any disclosure of lobbying contacts, thus obscuring the role that these 350+ lobbyists are having in the process of crafting a health care reform bill that will affect everyone in the country.

If you want to see other reporting on the network of former government staffers turned health care lobbyists, we’ve been looking at the Senate Finance Committee — “the central broker in the [health care] debate,” according to the Post — and the connections each lawmaker has with health care lobbyists. You can see our visualization of Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus’ connections or our visualization of all Senate Finance Committee Democrats and their connections. I’ll be posting about the Senate Finance Committee Republicans this week.

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