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Fox News Interrupts Obama Town Hall To Spin And Distort It And Complain Not Enough "Screaming And Yelling"

Reported by Ellen - August 11, 2009 -

“Fair and balanced" Fox News interrupted its coverage of President Obama’s health care town hall meeting to mischaracterize Obama’s position on health care, mischaracterize Nancy Pelosi’s criticisms of town hall disruptions, and, after developing a sudden interest in making sure that an audience had not been staged, complain that there wasn’t enough “screaming and yelling” in opposition. With video.

Evidently disappointed that there weren’t the kinds of disruptions that Fox News has been drooling over in other town halls, Trace Gallagher interrupted Obama’s town hall after just a few questions.

“We told you this was not a pre-screened crowd,” Gallagher said. “The White House said they expected people to come in and sometimes maybe yell and shout a little bit. We’ve not seen that. We’ve seen a very friendly crowd here so far.”

Perhaps to compensate for that disappointment, Gallagher immediately moved to discredit Obama with a false suggestion that the upcoming health care bill puts forth a single payer system. “One of the many concerns that people have is that whole single payer issue. Right? Universal health care? The government run with no choice or competition?” Gallagher could have and should have laid those concerns immediately to rest with the facts: that there is no single payer system on the table, but a public option designed to compete with private health insurance plans.

Gallagher should have also noted that universal health care does not necessarily mean a single payer plan. Massachusetts has such a system, for example. Instead, Gallagher perpetuated the false conflation by highlighting a quote from Obama in 2007, saying, “I believe that by the end of my first term in office we will have a universal healthcare system instituted in this country. That is a commitment that I’ve made and a commitment that I want to be held accountable for.”

The first guest, was a News Corp. VP and Wall Street Journal columnist, William McGurn.

“It seemed like very friendly surroundings,” Gallagher began pointedly. I’m sure that it was just a coincidence that Gallagher was giving validity to the talking points of New Hampshire Republicans, that the town hall would be staged, talking points that would be echoed throughout the segment, without offering any evidence whatsoever.

McGurn admitted, “I don’t know the mechanics of the distribution (of tickets)” before adding that no White House would want the president to go before an unfriendly crowd.

“There’s got to be a happy medium,” Gallagher said, though nobody on Fox seemed to feel that way about the heated, angry town halls. “We’ve seen these (other) town halls… and all of a sudden the president holds a town hall and it looks like it could be a campaign stop.”

Co-host Juliette Huddy jumped in with some spin and distortions of her own. “On the heels of Nancy Pelosi, and you know, calling some of these protesters ‘un-American.’” As Huddy ought to know, though Fox keeps spinning it otherwise, is that Pelosi said the DISRUPTIONS to town halls are un-American.

Predictably, nobody corrected the unwarranted attack of supposedly neutral Huddy, but McGurn went on to characterize Obama’s rhetoric as “not very presidential.”

Noting the “somewhat tame audience,” Huddy asked, “Don’t you think (Americans) want to see a real, a real, honest-to-goodness town hall? …This looks like theater.” She later said, “You want to hear President Obama answer a fiery opponent.”

I so wish I had been around Fox in 2003 during the run up to the Iraq war. Something tells me this passion for spirited debate was notably absent when it would have been a Republican administration in the hot seat.

Gallagher got back in with further distortions. “The President… says that he’s got the American Medical Association on board, the American Nurses Association on board. What he doesn’t have, it seems like, according to polls, is the American people on board.”

Is Gallagher trying to be the next Hannity? This is nothing more than a further distortion. Polls clearly show that while Americans have doubts, they just as clearly want health care reform and very often want a public option.

Next up was an unbalanced panel consisting of conservative Tucker Carlson, conservative Stephen Hayes and lone Democrat Alicia Menendez. That’s two-to-one against the Democrats, not counting the hosts.

Gallagher reiterated his earlier complaint by saying snidely, “This town hall looks very, very friendly, indeed.”

“All presidents try to manage the audience or their staff tries to manage the audience,” Carlson replied. “And all presidents lie about it. This one clearly is following in that grand tradition!” He chuckled heartily at his own observation. Neither Carlson nor any of the “impartial” hosts noted that no evidence to prove such an accusation had been put forth.

Gallagher asked Menendez, “Don’t you want the president to have a little bit of screaming and yelling? Don’t you want the president to answer some of these heated questions?”

It’s funny how these pundits keep fixing on “staged audiences” in Obama’s town hall and keep disregarding the same issue when the audiences are on the verge of violence. Unfortunately, Menendez never addressed the blatant bias staring her in the face during this discussion.