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Fox News Coverage Of Health Care Reform Parallels Right Wing Strategy

Reported by Ellen - August 4, 2009 -

Just as town hall health care discussions are being hijacked by right-wing astroturfers, Fox News has ceded its own coverage to the same scare tactics, talking points and outright advocacy disguised as discussion and debate. Yesterday (8/3/09), I posted about Fox & Friends’ not-so-subtle efforts on behalf of right-wing efforts to kill health care reform. Last night, Fox News contributor Dick Morris took it a step further on Hannity when he ratcheted up the scare tactics, claiming, among other things, that the Obama administration “wants” elderly people to die and urging the audience to take explicit steps to fight the legislation. With video.

“We have got to let ‘em have it,” Morris said, endorsing the right-wing efforts to hijack town halls.

“Democrats are afraid to show up at these town halls!” an obviously appreciative Sean Hannity exclaimed. He never pointed out, nor did he later host a guest to do so, that the disruptions at public meetings on health care reform are part of an astroturfing effort by the right wing.

Morris urged, “This has got to be a time of unbelievable pressure.” He went on to enumerate the “four steps you need to take to fight back.”

Morris contiued, “This is the end of Medicare as we know it… Go to my website and learn how to promote (an anti-health-care-reform) ad. Then write your senator, write your congressmen, call them and write your friends to do it. On my website, I explain how to do all this and who the targets are. There are 15 moderate Democratic senators we can get over this bill and we’ve got to get ‘em if we’re gonna have a health care system.”

Hannity, never one to recognize irony, said with hypocritical outrage, “(Democrats) are engaged in a propaganda campaign! …Can these simplistic talking points work?"

Morris said they could if people don’t know the facts. Then, without providing any evidence, he engaged in blatant fear mongering. “The facts are that… you just won’t get to see a doctor. You won’t get any care. You won’t have a co-pay, you won’t have a deductible. In fact, you won’t have a doctor, you won’t have a nurse and you won’t have any medicines.”

He continued, “Look… a quarter of all Medicare money is spent in the last year of a patient’s life. They can’t say we want those people to die but that’s what they mean. They are going to slice Medicare.”

Morris went on to say about his 99 year-old father, who was just in the hospital for bleeding ulcers, “He’d be dead today if Obama’s plan passed… I couldn’t pay for it. I wouldn’t be allowed to.”

In fact, the euthanasia and “no private health insurance allowed” claims are right-wing talking points that have been debunked. But that information was not told to the "we report, you decide" network's viewers.

Hannity, predictably, never offered any challenge to Morris’ outlandish claims. Instead, he piled on by painting a false analogy. Hannity held up an article from The Guardian about British patients “forced to live in agony” because the national health service won’t pay for cortisone shots for chronic back pain sufferers.

While mouthing concern for certain (hypothetical) patients, Hannity and Morris completely overlooked the real ones who are currently dying and suffering because of lack of health insurance now. Indeed, the two fat cats actively sought to minimize the problem by suggesting that the numbers of uninsured have been inflated. Then why are 450,000 doctors saying otherwise? I think they are in a position to know better than Hannity and Morris. Yet, their views are consistently excluded from the show on “fair and balanced” Fox News.