For Immediate Release: Andrew Langer (703) 683-5004 - Friday, October 8, 1999
Vol. 3, No. 37
TV Reports Sell "Bill of Rights" Terminology, Stress Link Between GOP Opposition and Insurance Cash
The Media Allow No Conservative Idealism
Several journalistic practices are sending a clear signal that Republicans are
disobeying media wishes on health legislation. Begin with the almost automatic recitation
of the liberal term for their litigation scheme: "the patients' bill of rights."
Few reports have even placed "so-called" in front of it. These same media
outlets ignore conservative terms (for example, "partial-birth abortion" becomes
"a certain type of late-term abortion," or on rare occasions is preceded by
"what opponents call").
The other practice
is heavy-handed linking of "bill of rights" opponents with the narrow financial
self-interests of insurance companies. No opponent could have a sincere belief in a
better, freer health care system [see box]:
NBC, Tuesday night. Tom Brokaw began by discussing "the rights of
patients in this increasingly impersonal world of managed health care. The debate starts
tomorrow, but we begin tonight with breakfast this morning, breakfast with the Speaker of
the House and some of the most powerful health care lobbyists. They were paying for a lot
more than bacon and eggs at $1,000 a plate."
CBS, Tuesday night. Bob Schieffer lamented Hastert's ill-timed
fundraiser: "The bill that Hastert and the insurance industry are trying to kill, and
the industry is mounting a massive campaign against it, would give patients the right to
sue HMOs that wrong them."
ABC, Tuesday night. Peter Jennings announced that "on the eve of
an important debate about managed health care in the country, it was the perfect
opportunity to see money at work." Reporter Linda Douglass complained: "There
has been very little pressure from the public, and when the public is silent, money
ABC, Wednesday morning. Reporter Karla Davis concentrated on cash:
"Doctors spent $45 million last year lobbying Congress. On the other side, the
insurance industry spent $77 million and its lobbyists say the bill will hurt, not help
patients....So it looks like Congress must make a choice to disappoint some very rich
contributors or some who are even richer."
NBC, Wednesday night. Lisa Myers asserted: "With hundreds of
millions of dollars and the health of American families at stake, tonight's partisan
bickering appears to threaten House approval of new rights for 161 million Americans in
HMOs. The President accuses House Republicans of using poison pills to try to scuttle
reform... Republicans insist that's not true."
CBS, Wednesday night. Dan Rather announced, "The long-stalled,
heavily lobbied patients' bill of rights is supposed to give people more say in the
decisions of managed health care plans. Instead, it is the latest example of political
gridlock turning into a chain reaction pileup of the nation's agenda." None of these
stories allowed a Republican to explain their philosophical reasons for opposing the bill.
That would only ruin the greedy gun-for-hire caricature. -- Tim Graham
L. Brent Bozell III, Publisher; Brent Baker, Tim Graham, Editors;
Jessica Anderson, Brian Boyd, Geoffrey
Dickens, Mark Drake, Paul Smith, Brad
Wilmouth, Media Analysts; Kristina Sewell, Research
Associate. For the latest liberal media bias, read the
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