Megyn Kelly was a vision of sympathy for Republican outrage last week as she offered a friendly, uncritical platform for Republican Kris Kobach to suggest that because one navigator for the Affordable Care Act (i.e. "Obamacare") had once been arrested at a protest in front of his house, the whole process might be riddled with criminal and/or inappropriate activity. But what made this discussion especially notable was how it came just a few days after Kelly complained about the media seizing on two extremists, and therefore distorting, the larger picture at a veterans protest. But Kelly's contradictory stands on cherry picking had one thing in common: they each promoted a GOP-friendly meme.
To refresh your memory, earlier last week Kelly attacked media coverage of the veterans protest of the closing of the World War II memorial during the government shutdown. She criticized the disproportionate coverage of a man hoisting the Confederate flag and to one of the speakers urging President Obama to “leave town,” “put the Koran down” and “to figuratively come up with his hands out.” Kelly complained viewers would get a skewed picture from other networks because "They want you to believe that it's about the fringe."
But that's exactly what Kelly worked to have her viewers believe when she interviewed Republican operative Kobach - without disclosing his extremist background - and helped him promote the suggestion that one ACA navigator (people hired by the federal government to help the public sign up for health insurance) indicated that not just the whole lot but the entire program they work for is corrupt, untrustworthy and fraudulent.
With her trademark outrage, Kelly said, "Well, new questions about just who is working on the new health care rollout." But instead of trying to answer those "questions" with any real information, she brought on GOP Kobach (introduced merely as the "Kansas Secretary of State" ) to offer up his partisan spin. And despite Kelly's previous promise to Fox News media critic Howard Kurtz that she'd tell the "complete story" and "both sides," she was an active helpmate to Kobach.
Apparently, this navigator in question was one of many immigration protesters who had "stormed" Kobach's home. "It turns out one of the ringleaders of that protest is now working on the taxpayers' dime handling Obamacare signups," Kelly said. Kelly made no apparent effort to offer the "ringleader's" side of the story. Nor did she bother to mention how many total navigators there are. Considering that there are more than 100 organizations helping people with navigation, it's pretty clear that there's no reason to believe that this one person is representative of the entire crew.
But Kelly's concern for complete coverage and proportionality was nowhere to be seen. "You found this out, that this woman who you believe trespassed on your property, is now one of the so-called navigators," Kelly said as part of her "fair and balanced" introduction.
I would agree with Kobach that going to someone's house and "trying to intimidate," as Kobach described the protest, is not a good thing. But just what role did this navigator play and how credible is Kobach's "belief" that she trespassed? We never found out. Kelly's interest in the story seemed to begin and end with Kobach's version and opinion. She shook her head in disapproving disbelief - but without any apparent interest in any more facts - as Kobach described the "thug tactic" of the protesters.
Instead, Kelly moved on to suggest that thugs are working to enroll you in Obamacare. "She's an Obamacare navigator. They are getting paid millions - tens and tens of millions of dollars and federal funding to help guide Obamacare enrollees through the process. And our understanding is they have potential access to people's social security numbers and other private health care information." Then Kelly asked suggestively, "Are there any checks to find out who we're giving our information to?"
But Kelly surely knew that Kobach - from a state that has declined to participate in Obamacare's efforts to get more people insured - would not exactly be an impartial, informed source for an answer. And sure enough, he didn't know. But that didn't preclude him from hinting otherwise:
"My guess is that there are plenty of other, similar individuals all throughout this country," he said.
Kelly offered no indication she was going to look any further.
UPDATE: Kobach's first name was originally misspelled. I regret the error.
Well, Ellen, I’m going to have to disagree with you here. IF the “someone” is a private citizen who has “offended” certain right-wing or left-wing sensibilities (such as a doctor who provides abortions having his or her home being subjected to protests by anti-choice activists who may subject the doctor’s child or children to taunting), then I’m less inclined to support any protest. HOWEVER, if the “someone” is an elected, political official, I’m willing to allow a bit of “intimidation” be practiced in the name of the First Amendment’s right to peaceable assembly to petition a redress of grievances (provided the protest doesn’t become unruly and doesn’t hinder other residents in the neighborhood).