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Eric Shawn: “Fair and Balanced” Panel of Conservatives Push the Agenda of Town Hall Protesters and Skewer Obama’s Healthcare Plan

Reported by Julie - August 17, 2009 -

On August 15, 2009, on Fox News Watch with Eric Shawn, he gave conservatives Andrea Tantaros, Jim Pinkerton, Judy Miller and Kirsten Powers (a Greta-style Fox News “Democrat”) a platform to smear and further the right’s agenda on thuggery at healthcare reform town halls, President Obama’s healthcare reform, and the role of the media. I guess Shawn thought a conservative media “expert” (Pinkerton), a conservative discredited journalist (Miller), a neoconic hate-spewing blogger (Tantaros) and a columnist who mainly embraces conservative positions (Powers) were the best folks to talk about all this weighty stuff. With video.

Which Democrat was on the panel? Uh, yeah, none (no, I’m not counting Powers) – well, unless you count the clip of White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, who talked about the fact that people who go to the town hall meetings for information basically just get yelled down, and sort of slammed the media coverage of the meetings. As for Shawn’s panel, you’ve got your Jim Pinkerton, of the New America Foundation – who was a recent speaker at RightOnline’s conference, sponsored by none other than Americans for Prosperity (yes, the same organization organizing the town hall meeting revolts). As one attendee at the conference said, “I've never been in a room with this many conservatives before.”

Then there’s Andrea Tantaros, a well-known Obama-hater, who tipped the see-saw further to the right, followed by former Times reporter, neocon Judy Miller, and Kirsten Powers, who Fox seems to use as a token “Democrat” to deliver watered-down arguments in favor of Democrat positions.

Shawn started off the segment with the lovely and hateful Andrea Tantaros and -- what a shocker -- Tantaros thinks the “Obama Administration has made a lot of mistakes” when it comes to health care . . . and, as we’ve seen, when it comes to foreign policy, even blaming President Obama for Iran’s post-election chaos . . . and when it comes to President Obama’s choice of Sonia Sotomayor and the “racist” tag assigned to her (said Tantaros, “. . . calling her a racist — though intellectually honest — is politically most unwise”) . . . when it comes to everything Obama, from his favorable media coverage to his “untouchable” persona. Suffice it to say that Tantaros is no fan, and not exactly “fair and balanced.”

At the start of the segment, Tantaros said indignantly, “First they came out with a moral imperative – we need to get everybody covered – and if you pull apart that number of uninsured it really just doesn’t add up . . . CBO says this isn’t going to save money . . .” First of all, that’s just not true, Miss Andrea -- as reported by Crooks and Liars, “Senator Max Baucus, the Democrat who heads that committee, revealed last week that the C.B.O. had evaluated a draft of his bill and concluded that it would cover 95 percent of all Americans, for a cost below $900 billion, and would actually start reducing the deficit in 2019.” And as for the number of uninsured that “really just doesn’t add up” . . . even the crawl on this segment stated that, according to the Congressional Budget Office, at any given time at least 45 million people are uninsured – does Fox consider that a small number? Sitting financially pretty with her little hate-spewing blog and her little hate-fests on Fox News, Tantaros can pooh-pooh the 45 million without healthcare. I doubt those uninsured individuals would think that number so worthy of dismissal.

Powers weighed in, saying, “. . . One could argue, why aren’t the Democrats going and yelling at Republicans . . . making their own scene.” Hmm, well , the Democrats have in fact marshaled the resources of the SEIU union, and ACORN has showed up at a town hall meeting or two – but according to the right, THAT constitutes organized mob action. Keep in mind that Powers is the same woman who, when talking about the “death panels” on Fox News’ Special Report Panel on August 14, 2009, said, “I think once you have the president having to try to convince you he is not going to kill your grandmother, you're in trouble.” It might have behooved Shawn to point out that the only reason President Obama had to address this at all was because Sarah Palin got all Facebooked up and started floating her “box of crazy” about “death panels” to the right-wing public.

Pinkerton laughingly agreed with Shawn that the yelling and screaming probably obscured the facts that the American people need, but hey, why should that matter, because people sympathize with these right-wing protesters [1 out of 3 isn’t exactly a majority, guy], and that according to “according to a Fox News poll,” by a 49-34 margin “they” are against the Obama healthcare plan. Woah there, homey – a Fox News poll? Are ya tripping? Yes, 49% of those polled disapprove of President Obama’s handling of healthcare reform. But previous CNN polls showed that 63% people questioned said they’d be okay with the federal government’s increased involvement in their own health care plans. And hey, if a Fox News poll is considered valid, then this CNN “Quick Vote” poll is just as valid. When asked, “Do you believe healthcare is a fundamental American right whether people can pay for it or not?”, 83% of those polled said “yes,” and 17% said “no.” A latest Gallup poll also showed that people are almost evenly divided, for-or-against (35-36), for the new healthcare bill, with 29% having no opinion.

Shawn turned to Judy Miller and noted admiringly that she, the former Times reporter turned just one more Fox News “analyst” (who didn’t add much except a comforting conservative presence to this segment) went to jail to “protect a source.” However, as reported by the Huffington Post, Miller “didn't go to jail to preserve the integrity of journalism; she went to jail to protect Scooter Libby -- and her complicity in the Bush administration's successful selling of a bogus war, as well as the White House's desperate attempts to keep its misleading of the American people under wraps.”

Tantaros, happy in Fox-la-la-land, said “The blaming of Fox News, which that’s how I took it . . . they just called this ‘manufactured outrage,’ they discounted it . . . insulting people doesn’t work, imagine that, and now they’re blaming the media . . . .”

It’s funny, really, that Tantaros would continue to deny the existence of “manufactured outrage”. As reported by Media Matters, on August 12, 2009, Fox News’ Carl Cameron confirmed that the town hall meetings were being “organized” by the same folks who brought us the tea parties. Not even a half hour later, Andrea Tantaros, along with Fox News' Bill Hemmer, denied the town hall meetings were “organized,” with Tantaros saying, “[T]he only thing that is organized are the unions showing up.” Her reasoning? The signs were professionally made.

Pinkerton agreed with Miller that, “Healthcare is a serious issue . . . but healthcare policy and health insurance reform . . . is not what people worry about. What people worry about with medicine is illness and cures . . . .” Right, they sure do worry about illness and cures -- and paying for those things, when they have no money and no health insurance.

Shawn? As the host, think you might want to weigh in?

Powers admitted that the media isn’t doing a good job of breaking it down for people, to which Tantaros argued, “There are no details . . . there’s no details to this plan . . . so really the media doesn’t have that much to go on . . . .”

Powers lent a bit of “fair and balanced,” saying that a perfect example of media misinformation is the death panel thing: “There is no death panel . . . and actually what was crafted, was crafted by a Republican.” Score that zinger, Powers.

In response, Pinkerton alleged, “True or false - within the public health bureaucracy of liberalism in the last 40 or 50 years a significant euthanasia movement has emerged . . . .” Shawn, in perfect Fox News tradition, saw no reason to delve into the facts behind this statement – such as the fact that liberals are generally all about choice, and it really doesn't have anything to do with killing granny. I guess if it’s got an anti-liberal message, those-on-Fox-who-call-themselves-journalists don't need to bother with pesky facts.

There’s one last thing that neither Shawn nor this panel mentioned –the faces in the crowds shown in the clips Shawn played. Notice anything?