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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Wash. Times and Fox News now unleashing mobs on private citizens (including kids)

By Eric Boehlert

Last week, a Washington Times blogger posted a call to arms, beseeching readers to help the newspaper dig up more information regarding a long list of arts organization representatives who took part in a conference call with the White House on August 10. The call was part of a National Endowment for the Arts initiative, and it's a conference call that was secretly taped and has been wildly overhyped in conservative media circles as some sort of linchpin in a larger criminal enterprise being run out of the White House to politicize the arts. (There's no evidence the August 10 conference call broke any laws.)

Still, the Times was asking for help. It wanted readers to search through a spreadsheet it posted that included names of the arts representatives who participated in the NEA conference call. The Times wanted readers to snoop around online -- doing some crowdsourcing -- and find out everything they could about the arts reps.

In theory, of course, online dirt-digging and sleuthing makes perfect sense and represents a new era of participatory journalism embraced by the Internet. Josh Marshall and his reporting team at Talking Points Memo, for instance, famously used crowdsourcing to track policy positions of members of Congress during the debate over Social Security in 2005. Readers also chipped in and helped rifle through thousands of pages of memos that the Bush White House dumped at a time when the U.S. attorney scandal was widening. Thanks to Marshall's readers, TPM was able to tease out all sorts of interesting news leads.

Note, however, who the targets of TPM's crowdsourcing were: members of Congress and other major players in the federal government. Marshall urged his readers to monitor politicians and to read through government documents while focusing on people in power who are expected to be held publicly accountable.

But The Washington Times' disturbing call to arms? The paper wanted its readers to find out all they could about private citizens who work at little-known arts organizations and whose only connection to the spotlight was that they were invited to dial in to a conference call.

Times blogger Kerry Picket assured readers, "The people on the call didn't necessarily do anything controversial or wrong." Yet look at the kind of dirt Times readers were urged to dig up about the arts reps. Had they:

  • Been active in Democratic politics?
  • Made any campaign donations recently?
  • Blogged for The Huffington Post?
  • Believed in the 9-11 "Truther" conspiracy theory?

The obvious odor of Red Scare-era snitching that hung over the Times' wrongheaded project was too much to take even for some loyal conservative readers. Wrote one Times reader in the comments section:

As a Republican, this story makes me sick to my stomach. What is this? A witch hunt? McCarthy is back? As someone who lived through that, I am saddened to see the Washington Times engage in this type of behavior. STOP ACTING LIKE THIS. They are private citizens. I am a VERY proud Republican, but this is not who we are.

But increasingly, this is who conservatives have become. They've become a mindless mob, and the right-wing media, more and more often, are sending their overeager foot soldiers out on seek-and-destroy missions involving private citizens. They're even targeting innocent schoolchildren, like the group of second-graders in New Jersey that became a right-wing (mob) object of disgust last week after an old YouTube clip surfaced that showed the students singing a song in honor of the president of the United States. (You're supposed to recoil in horror at the mere suggestion of such a thing happening in America.)

The reason the Times' crowdsourcing bulletin was so misguided, and possibly even dangerous, was that the people the newspaper was urging to go digging for dirt were, by and large, the same type of people who are packing pistols at anti-Obama rallies, parading around with Hitler posters, and claiming the POTUS wasn't born in America. Meaning the right-wing mob, which suddenly decided last week that the NEA represented all that is evil in the world, is not all that stable and should not be setting its crooked sights on private citizens.

Again, original research and citizen journalism are both laudable pursuits. But in the hands of right-wing radicals who exhibit very little common sense and even less common decency, the witch hunts of peripheral players, including now-regular attempts to target children, no longer represent journalism in any recognizable sense. Instead, they're just unsettling -- and dangerous -- attempts at mob rule. They're a way to send a signal that anybody who is even marginally involved in public discourse can suddenly become a target of the mob. And then, all bets are off.

This trend of targeting private citizens is not new. But it has become more pronounced in recent weeks and months, as collective Obama hatred has pushed the GOP Noise Machine to ignore the boundaries of fair play. (Like posting the possibly stolen contents of somebody's Rolodex.)

The growing obsession with singling out children for mob ridicule is especially troubling. Recall in early August, it was an 11-year-old girl who became the object of right-wing taunts after she had the audacity to stand up at an Obama town hall and ask the president a question. Busted! The kid wasn't participating in public democracy. Instead, the mob called her out as a shifty, "in-the-tank questioner."

Fox News quickly channeled the blog attacks and posted this headline [emphasis added]:

White House Says Girl with Campaign Ties Chosen at 'Random' to Speak at Obama Town Hall

Campaign ties? The girl was in elementary school! How could she have had "campaign ties"? The only "tie" was that her mom was an Obama donor and supporter in 2008, a fact quickly discovered when right-wing bloggers began scouring Facebook photos and friends lists, as well as FEC filings, in search of info about the girl's mother, a "political hack." Why? To unmask the girl's "campaign ties," of course.

In other words, her mom did what a few million other Americans did last fall, yet in the eyes of Fox News, Michelle Malkin, and the mob leaders, that suddenly meant the woman's daughter had "campaign ties"? And for right-wing bloggers, that meant the kid was fair game for ridicule? That meant that, of course, she deserved to be mocked as a "leftist plant." (The caped crusaders online never unearthed a single fact suggesting that the young girl was coached on her question or that Obama knew what it would be before he called on her. By "plant," the mob simply meant the schoolgirl was the daughter of a Democrat, as if that were news or even relevant.)

The right wing's latest attack on children was even more astonishing. Fresh off her humiliating claim that 2 million people showed up at the September 12 anti-Obama rally in Washington, D.C., (she was only off by 1.9 million), Malkin urged readers to wallow in disgust over the fact that 18 New Jersey 7-year-olds sang a song in honor of the new president.

Directly and indirectly, the second-graders were attacked as being "creepy," "Obama-worshipping drones" and cultish members of the "Hitler Youth." Why? Because they sang a song during Black History Month that honored the accomplishments of America's first black president. The whole thing was "sick," the hate mob announced.

Why so sick? Because it was just like what Hitler did! (Again with the Hitler fetish from the far-right fever swamp?)

[W]hen those of us who study history see videos like the one below, it chills us to the bone. It is decidedly reminiscent of the indoctrination techniques that took place in 1930s Germany.

That's right: A massive, mandatory, state-run indoctrination initiative implemented by a fascist German dictator was just like when a single school teacher in New Jersey independently, without the slightest involvement from the government, decided to teach second-graders a song about Obama. The comparison is almost too dumb for words. And am I the only one who thought the story would have worked as a pseudo-scandal only if the kids were videotaped singing the praise of another country's president? But in the loopy world of right-wing media, it's disgusting and disgraceful and cultish when kids today sing the praises of the president of the United States.

Welcome to Bizarro World, where patriotic schoolkids are now the enemy.

The whole senseless attack was painfully dumb and misdirected and represented a shocking invasion of the schoolchildren's privacy. But the mob had selected its target, which meant that the conservative media had to play along and hype the tale as incredibly important and potentially dangerous. In a desperate attempt to attach some drama to the story about kids who sang nice things about the president, FoxNews.com posted this ominous headline and subhead:

Elementary School Students Reportedly Taught Songs Praising President Obama: Nearly 20 young children are captured in an online video as they sing songs that overflow with campaign slogans and praise for "Barack Hussein Obama," as they repeatedly chant the president's name and celebrate his accomplishments. [The original headline can be seen in the page's URL.]

"Captured." Like, the little elementary schoolkids were trying to pull a fast one, but the news hounds at Fox busted them good! The comedy was that by "captured," Fox meant some parent or teacher taped the kids and put it on YouTube, like four months ago. But in the hands of Fox, the kids had been captured.

Mob rules, indeed.

But whenever the right wing ignites the crazies, it's no laughing matter. And in the case of the "sick," "creepy" second-graders signing up for duty in the "Hitler Youth," predictably, after much breathless snooping, the name of the offending elementary school was indentified and its phone number was posted online. And just as predictably, threats of violence began to pour in.

According to a Fox News online report:

The tension at B. Bernice Young Elementary School escalated to such a degree Thursday that the school was placed temporarily on lockdown after its principal received death threats over a YouTube video that showed nearly 20 children being taught songs lauding the president, though back-to-school night events continuing as planned Thursday night at the school.

Ironically, the Fox report was quickly scrubbed, and any mention of looming right-wing mob violence was edited out of the news story. Editors at Fox News can erase all the unseemly mentions of death threats they want, but when right-wing mobs online are whipped into a frenzy and sent out to attack private citizens, they always leave a mark.

M.C.L. comment:

It's official the right wing has hit rock bottom, attacking kids and their parents because they didn't get offended by their kids singing a song about Barack Obama. Repeating what I've been saying since President Obama got swore in 9 months ago, these right wingers were the same people that rose all kinds of hell if someone said anything negative President Bush, Conservatives for eight years restricted freedom of speech but since the president now is from a different party and for some in the right wing movement a different color they rediscovered the power of the first amendment.

The Republicans and the suits in the right wing movement probably view this as nothing more as their way to raise money and get their horde of thinking challenge zombies fire up about the 2010 elections. But those freaks within the movement don't view it that way, some of them take what Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh say to heart and act on it. Example the shooter in Pennsylvania that killed two cops he was a Beck fan and the guy that shot up a church in Tennessee ate, slept and live what people in the right wing media him.

Preemptive Malkin attack helped progressive book’s sales surge

By Kathleen Miller

WASHINGTON — The author of “50 Ways You Can Help Obama Change America” says a recent online attack by conservative columnist Michelle Malkin may have helped propel his book sales on Amazon.com’s “Best-Sellers List.”

Michael Huttner, founder of grassroots organizing group Progress Now, co-wrote the 236-page community action handbook with Jason Salzman, after they kept hearing people in the progressive community ask “What can we do now?” following President Obama’s inauguration last January.

Huttner told Raw Story the book is “a small contribution” to “ultimately helping people all across the country and in every community to have practical ways they can change their community, their state, the country and maybe even the world.”

Malkin notes Huttner’s day job as head of Progress Now, which she describes as “a Democrat group of non-profit satellites funded with start-up money from billionaire George Soros and the Democracy Alliance — whose board members include SEIU International Secretary-Treasurer Anna Burger and ACORN embezzlement cover-upper Drummond Pike.” The non-profit status of groups like the Progress Now affiliates, despite links to the Democratic Party, have enraged many conservatives.

On August 31st, before Huttner’s book had been released, Malkin called it “a bid to dislodge conservative authors” that sought to energize “every nutroots activist” and “Obama cultists.”

Huttner says the week following Malkin’s attack, his book jumped to number 28 on Amazon’s best-sellers list. It now sits at # 32, 097 on the best-sellers list, but ranks #23 on the Human Rights best-sellers list and #24 on the leadership best-sellers list.

“She attacked us very personally and quite frankly it has brought some attention to the book,” Huttner told Raw Story. “If you look at our online reviews, you’ll see two types of ratings–5 star ratings from a bunch of different folks and 1 star ratings that often happened the day after she posted her attack. Some of the people even acknowledge they haven’t read the book.”

He also dismisses her criticism of him as a “Soros-tied author” and says Progress Now is “honored to have the support” of Soros’ Open Society Institute, “which continues to help so many important causes throughout the country and around the world.”

Partisan book wars are nothing new. In 2003, the Boston Globe noted that five liberal books made The New York Times’s top 15 hard-cover nonfiction bestsellers, “mounting what some sales specialists see as a left-wing assault on the conservatives’ decade-long hold on popular culture.”

The paper reported that book publishing, talk radio and opinion mags had largely been “dominated by right-wing political titles, including polemics by the leading radio and television pundits. The airwaves, bestseller lists, and the opinion press were widely viewed as links in a network that helped prompt investigations of President Clinton and assisted the elections of a Republican House, Senate, and presidency.”

Huttner told Raw Story that although his book is intended for a liberal audience, it really could be used by anybody seeking to learn how to use new media like Facebook, YouTube and cell phones to advocate for any cause.

“To be quite frank, almost every one of the actions in there is a practical strategy and tactics, and quite frankly as much as I’d like to say they are all progressive , they are really more civic engagement and successful political organizing tactics that we’ve had work in Colorado and elsewhere,” Huttner told Raw Story. “The ultimate goal is getting people engaged in the conversation. This is a practical handbook on how people can create change and empower themselves.”

Malkin did not respond to Raw Story’s request for comment.

Right-Wing Panel Agrees Obama Is The ‘First Muslim American President’

By Lee Fang

At the How to Take Back America conference last weekend, attended by several Republican lawmakers, former Reagan official and prominent neoconservative Frank Gaffney, right-wing historian Bill Federer, and Christian activist Walid Shoebat hosted a panel on “How to understand Islam.” An attendee of the panel asked the three speakers if they would consider President Obama a Christian or a Muslim, given his “roots.” While Gaffney gave a now familiar response linking Obama to the Muslim Brotherhood, Federer and Shoebat provided new theories, which elicited praise from the crowd:

GAFFNEY: If Bill Clinton, on the basis of special interest pandering and identity politics, was properly called the first Black American President, on that same basis, Barack Obama should be called the first Muslim American President. […] But there is evidence that a lot of Muslims think he is Muslim. But whether he is or whether he isn’t, the key to me, is is he pursuing that is indistinguishable in important respects from that of the Muslim Brotherhood, whose mission ladies and gentlemen, we know from a trial in Dallas last year, is to quote to destroy Western civilization from within by its own miserable hand. That’s what we need to keep our eye on.

FEDERER: In Islam, if your father is a Muslim, you’re automatically a Muslim. Since Barack’s father, stepfather, and grandfather were all Muslim, the Muslim world views him as Muslim. Mohammad allowed his warriors to say they’re not Muslim to gain advantage and um, but he’s uh, Islam permits you to lie to advance Islam, Saul Alinsky allows you to lie to advance your communist agenda, you can put them together.

SHOEBAT: I came from an American mother, Obama came from an American mother. I came from a Muslim father, Obama came from a Muslim father. […] Did you know that your President knows how to do the call to the prayer in eloquent classical Arabic? […] No one can do this in classical Arabic language unless he grew up and was raised as a Muslim.

Watch it:

During the panel, Shoebat advocated entering Arab countries and converting Muslims to Christianity. He also went on a rant about how Muslims in meat packaging plants are contaminating America’s food supply because their hands are unclean.

Gaffney has a record of comparing Obama to Hitlera major theme of the conference — and spreading other absurd reasons for why he thinks Obama is Muslim. As Matt Duss has noted, although it may be difficult to take Gaffney as a serious analyst, his “transparently bigoted” attacks are given a platform on major media outlets. This reason alone is why Gaffney’s smears shouldn’t be ignored.

In the past week alone, Gaffney has appeared as a pundit on Fox News and MSNBC, has been featured in an article in NewsMax, and wrote an opinion column for the Washington Times.

Monday, September 28, 2009

In failed bid to salvage O'Keefe's credibility, Wallace attacks Media Matters

From Media Matters:

Wallace attacks Media Matters on conservative funding of videographers, ignores Media Matters' evidence

Wallace: O'Keefe "denies reports on left-wing blogs he got any money from conservative backers." Wallace said: "O'Keefe wants to set the record straight. He denies reports on left-wing blogs he got any money from conservative backers." During that statement, Fox displayed an image of Media Matters' home page followed by an image of a Media Matters item that documented statements by conservative media figures that they were raising money for O'Keefe's and Giles' legal defense or that they would be willing to do so in the future.

From Fox News Sunday:

okeefe1

okeefe2

Wallace ignored reported admission by conservative investor -- noted by Media Matters -- that he funded an earlier O'Keefe video released this year. In attacking Media Matters, Wallace ignored a September 22 Village Voice report -- noted by Media Matters -- that the spokesperson for conservative investor Peter Thiel acknowledged that Thiel had contributed "about $10,000" to an earlier video that O'Keefe released in February 2009. As Media Matters noted, The Village Voice reported that Thiel's spokesperson denied that Thiel had "any involvement with the ACORN videos." [The Village Voice, 9/22/09]

Wallace ignored evidence -- documented in Media Matters item Fox displayed -- of conservatives currently fundraising for videographers. As Wallace uncritically repeated O'Keefe's denial that "he got any money from conservative backers," Fox showed an image of a September 25 Media Matters item headlined, "Hannity, Breitbart lead conservative media fundraising for activist videographers sued by ACORN." Wallace completely ignored the evidence Media Matters included in the item, which consisted of the below statements -- some of them made on Fox News -- by conservatives that they were fundraising or would fundraise for O'Keefe and Giles.

  • Hannity: "Hannah, if you get in trouble ... we can help you. We'll put out the word." After interviewing Giles and her attorney about the lawsuit, Sean Hannity stated, "Well, listen, Hannah, if you get in trouble and you need the lawyer, I'll tell you what, we can help you. We'll put out the word. I'm sure there's a lot of people that may want to help you with a legal defense fund. And if you get to that point, let us know, and we'll be glad to bring you back on." [Hannity, 9/24/09]
  • Breitbart on O'Reilly: "We will be advertising Hannah and James' legal defense fund." After Bill O'Reilly asked, "[D]o you have lawyers helping you with it because, you know, this is expensive," Breitbart stated, "We're -- we're working on that right now. And I want everybody to know that we will be advertising Hannah and James' legal defense fund at BigGovernment.com. The amount of -- the responses so far in e-mail form are overwhelming." [The O'Reilly Factor, 9/24/09]
  • HotAir's Allahpundit: "Dig deep: Hannah Giles defense fund launches." In a September 24 HotAir.com blog post titled, "Dig deep: Hannah Giles defense fund launches," Allahpundit wrote that Giles' father -- conservative activist Doug Giles -- "sent out a blast e-mail about it a little while ago and I'm told the link's posted on his Facebook page, so fire away. Not that she'll need the money: The lawsuit's weak, the jury will be on her side, and apparently Hannity's set to beam this link out to America on tonight's show, which means she'll be swimming in dough come morning." Allahpundit further promised, "I'll post the info for O'Keefe's defense fund once it's available." HotAir.com was founded by Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin. [HotAir.com, 9/24/09]
  • NewsBusters: Breitbart "Reveals Defense Fund Initiative." Promoting Breitbart's O'Reilly Factor appearance, the Media Research Center's NewsBusters blog quoted Breitbart's promotion of the legal defense fund and included a link to Breitbart's BigGovernment.com. [NewsBusters, 9/24/09]

Wallace ignored Fox reporting that some ACORN employees "did the right thing"

Wallace: O'Keefe "says he'll release all the tapes soon to show if any ACORN offices did the right thing." Wallace reported: "O'Keefe wants to set the record straight. ... And he says he'll release all the tapes soon to show if any ACORN offices did the right thing." Wallace then added, "Why not release all the tapes at the start?" and proceeded to air video of O'Keefe saying, "We knew that they would lie and they would say, 'Oh, you've got nothing,' or 'You're dubbing your voice in.' But you release a little bit at a time, and they get caught in their lie."

Wallace ignored Fox's own reporting -- backed up by police -- that "some" ACORN "workers did the right thing." On September 22, Fox News' Megyn Kelly reported: "[I]t appears that not every ACORN worker did go along with it. ACORN had been saying that the purported pimp and prostitute had failed in certain offices to actually convince the ACORN workers for help, and police in California say one ACORN worker at one office out there did, in fact, contact them after the filmmakers approached him about this human smuggling ring, or this trafficking ring. That worker realizing several days later that the whole thing was a hoax, but as ACORN pointed out when this thing first broke, some of their workers did the right thing."

Indeed, the Associated Press reported:

Police say a worker with the activist group ACORN who was caught on video giving advice about human smuggling to a couple posing as a pimp and a prostitute had reported the incident to authorities.

National City police said Monday that Juan Carlos Vera contacted his cousin, a police detective, to get advice on what to with information on possible human smuggling.

Vera was secretly filmed on Aug. 18 as part of a young couple's high-profile expose.

Police say he contacted law enforcement two days later. The detective consulted another police official who served on a federal human smuggling task force, who said he needed more details.

The ACORN employee responded several days later and explained that the information he received was not true and he had been duped. [AP, 9/22/09]

Wallace ignored report that ACORN employee says she attempted to help videographer "prostitute" go to women's center. Los Angeles Times media critic James Rainey reported:

And visits to other ACORN offices have gone almost entirely unmentioned. Lavelle Stewart, a fair-housing coordinator in the group's Los Angeles office, told me this week that she tried to get the "prostitute," who claimed she had been beaten by her pimp, to go to a women's center.

"The fact she was not taking the help I offered her made me think something was not right," Stewart said. "It raised a red flag." [Rainey, Los Angeles Times, 9/23/09]

Wallace relayed O'Keefe's denial that Philly ACORN "called the cops" without noting ACORN released police report

Wallace: O'Keefe "denies" that Philly ACORN "called the cops." Wallace reported: "O'Keefe says in a few days he'll release video of their undercover visit to ACORN's Philadelphia office, and he denies the charge ACORN threw the two of them out of the office and called the cops. We'll see."

Wallace didn't note that ACORN released a police report naming O'Keefe. In relaying O'Keefe's denial that the Philadelphia ACORN office "called the cops," Wallace didn't mention that ACORN has publicly released a July 24, 2009, Philadelphia police report stating that an ACORN employee complained to police that O'Keefe had created a "verbal disturbance" at ACORN's office.

Other news outlets have reported on police report. On September 11, CNN's Abbie Boudreau reported that an ACORN spokesperson "told us today that the filmmakers made similar efforts in Philadelphia, and in that case, ACORN workers actually reported the filmmakers to the police. ACORN provided a copy of that police report to us." The Washington Post reported on September 17 that "[a]n ACORN spokesman said they [the videographers] were turned away in Miami, Los Angeles and Philadelphia, where workers called police and filed a report." The Post further reported on September 18 that "ACORN emailed a copy of a Philadelphia police report dated July 24 to The Post to verify its account that police were called and the couple was shown the door. O'Keefe is named on the report." The Philadelphia Daily News reported on September 16 that Philadelphia ACORN president Carol Hemingway "e-mailed copies of the incident report to the news media."

Bus beating Limbaugh exploited draws neo-Nazis

By Daniel Tencer A neo-Nazi group staged a rally Saturday in Belleville, Illinois, the site of the schoolbus beating that prompted radio host Rush Limbaugh to call for segregated busing.

Members of the National Socialist Movement waved placards urging police to file hate crimes charges against two black students who were caught on videotape beating a white student aboard a school bus headed for Belleville West High School.

“Wake up white America!” one protester urged. Participants carried signs saying “It was a hate crime.”

Police have charged two boys, aged 14 and 15, with felonies over the incident, but found no evidence of hate crimes, according to the Fox affiliate in nearby St. Louis.

Opponents of Saturday’s protest far outnumbered supporters. The Belleville News-Democrat reports that opponents of the protest gathered at a nearby parking structure and shouted down the speakers with calls of “Go home!”

Videotape of the Sept. 14 beating caused a stir in the right-wing news media, with the Drudge Report playing it as its top story for an entire day.

“In Obama’s America, the white kids now get beat up with the black kids cheering, ‘Yay, right on, right on, right on, right on,’” radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh said of the incident.

“We need segregated buses,” Limbaugh asserted, though he later said the statement was a joke.

Jason Bonn, one of the protest organizers, wrote on the National Socialist Movement’s Web site that the police had reneged on their promise to allow the protest to continue until 3 p.m., saying authorities had “Jewed” the protest on time.

“The police knew we were coming and just wanted to make sure we weren’t changing the location of the rally,” Bonn wrote. “Thinking back now as I write this, how funny would it have been if I would have called the media and did just that? There [sic] going to jew us on time.”

The following video was broadcast on KTVI, Fox Channel 2 in St. Louis, on Sept. 26, 2009:

Secret Service investigating Facebook poll asking ‘Should Obama be killed?’

By Amanda Terkel On Saturday, a user on Facebook posted a poll asking, “Should Obama be killed?” The blogger GottaLaff spotted the poll yesterday and called the Secret Service, which has now launched an investigation. “We are aware of [the poll], and we will take the appropriate investigative steps,” said Darrin Blackford, a Secret Service spokesman. “We take these things seriously.” Facebook has taken down the offensive poll and disabled the third-party application that was used to create it. Barry Schnitt, Facebook’s spokesman for policy, also told ThinkProgress that the company was following up with the developer to make sure that the application has “better procedures in place going forward to monitor their user-generated content.”

Friday, September 25, 2009

Hannity, Breitbart lead conservative media fundraising for activist videographers sued by ACORN

From Media Matters

ACORN files lawsuit against O'Keefe, Giles, Breitbart.com

Suit filed after alleged "illegal videotaping" seeks "injunction against further distribution" of a hidden-camera tape. From a September 23 Washington Post "44" blog post:

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) announced Thursday it had filed a lawsuit against James O'Keefe, Hannah Giles and Breitbart.com LLC for what it alleged was "illegal videotaping" of ACORN employees in Baltimore.

The group filed its suit in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City and is seeking "a preliminary and permanent injunction against further distribution" of a hidden-camera tape made by O'Keefe and Giles that aired on BigGovernment.com, a Web project of Andrew Breitbart's Breitbart.com company, along with compensatory and punitive damages. [WashingtonPost.com, 9/23/09]

Conservative media rush to launch virtual telethon for O'Keefe, Giles

Hannity: "Hannah, if you get in trouble ... we can help you. We'll put out the word." After interviewing Giles and her attorney about the lawsuit, Sean Hannity stated, "Well, listen, Hannah, if you get in trouble and you need the lawyer, I'll tell you what, we can help you. We'll put out the word. I'm sure there's a lot of people that may want to help you with a legal defense fund. And if you get to that point, let us know, and we'll be glad to bring you back on." [Hannity, 9/24/09]

Breitbart on O'Reilly: "We will be advertising Hannah and James' legal defense fund." After Bill O'Reilly asked, "[D]o you have lawyers helping you with it because, you know, this is expensive," Breitbart stated, "We're -- we're working on that right now. And I want everybody to know that we will be advertising Hannah and James' legal defense fund at BigGovernment.com. The amount of -- the responses so far in e-mail form are overwhelming." [The O'Reilly Factor, 9/24/09]

HotAir's Allahpundit: "Dig deep: Hannah Giles defense fund launches." In a September 24 HotAir.com blog post titled, "Dig deep: Hannah Giles defense fund launches," Allahpundit wrote that Giles' father -- conservative activist Doug Giles -- "sent out a blast e-mail about it a little while ago and I'm told the link's posted on his Facebook page, so fire away. Not that she'll need the money: The lawsuit's weak, the jury will be on her side, and apparently Hannity's set to beam this link out to America on tonight's show, which means she'll be swimming in dough come morning." Allahpundit further promised, "I'll post the info for O'Keefe's defense fund once it's available." [HotAir.com, 9/24/09]

NewsBusters: Breitbart "Reveals Defense Fund Initiative." Promoting Breitbart's O'Reilly Factor appearance, NewsBusters quoted Breitbart's promotion of the legal defense fund and included a link to Breitbart's BigGovernment.com. [NewsBusters.com, 9/24/09]

Conservative media strategically leaked, aggressively promoted secretly recorded tapes

Breitbart, Beck distributed secretly taped ACORN videos. O'Keefe first posted his secretly recorded video on Breitbart's BigGovernment.com in an effort to engage in -- in the words of Breitbart -- "a multimedia, multiplatform strategy" that included Fox News. Fox News, led by Glenn Beck, went on to facilitate Breitbart's "strategy" of releasing the videos."

M.C.L comment:

I agree with one of the comments posted under the story, the whores in the right wing media know these two future Fox News spokespeople are going down so in the meantime they're going to whip up their brain-dead followers in a frenzy. Republicans know they have nothing to run on, so the Republican party are getting their foot soldiers in the right wing media to make this a issue of oh my God that urban(code word for those N-words) liberal, evil group are attacking two God-fearing, young and white conservatives.

Poll: Public Option Favored By 65% Of Americans

The Huffington Post | Rachel Weiner

A New York Times/CBS poll found that 65% of respondents want a public health care option, while only 26% opposed such a plan.

However, respondents said that President Obama had not been clear on health care reform. Fifty-five percent said he had not explained his plan clearly, and many felt under-informed about the policies under discussion.

The Senate Finance Committee will vote on a government-run health insurance option Tuesday.

"We're going to have a full blown debate in the Finance Committee," said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), a backer of the public option. While it may be an "underdog," Schumer said, "don't count it out."

Uninsured 22-Year-Old Boehner Constituent Dies From Swine Flu

By Victor Zapanta A 22-year-old woman from Oxford, Ohio, died from swine flu on Wednesday. Kimberly Young graduated from Miami University in December and continued to live in Oxford, Ohio, within Minority Leader John Boehner’s congressional distrct. Reports now indicate that after initially getting sick, Young put off treatment because she was uninsured:

Young became ill about two weeks ago, but didn’t seek care initially because she didn’t have health insurance and was worried about the cost, according to Brent Mowery, her friend and former roommate. […]

On Tuesday, Sept. 22, Young’s condition suddenly worsened and her roommate drove her to McCullough Hyde Memorial Hospital in Oxford, where she was flown in critical condition to University Hospital in Cincinnati.

“That’s the most tragic part about it. If she had insurance, she would have gone to the doctor,” Mowery said.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 30 percent of 19-24 year olds are uninsured, more than any other group. Despite the conservative argument that young people are voluntarily refusing health coverage in favor of extra spending money, the reality is that high costs on the individual market put coverage out of reach. As Suzy Khimm notes at Campus Progress, young people “are far more likely to be working part-time or lower-paying jobs for employers who don’t offer coverage”:

In its 2008 study, the Commonwealth Fund found that 66 percent of young adults aged 19 to 29 who experienced a time without coverage in the past year said they had gone without it because of the cost. [...]

Young people might have a better chance of accessing comprehensive coverage if there were a public plan, which could lower the cost of insurance, particularly for those without good employer benefits. Young people may also have a better chance at coverage if there were generous subsidies for lower-income individuals, as many take lower-paying jobs when they first enter the workforce.

Even though Boehner represents a large university, he has been an outspoken opponent of a public option that would make insurance cheaper and more accessible to recent graduates like Young. On Meet the Press last week, the Minority Leader continued to stick to the obstructionist Frank Luntz-endorsed talking points, dismissing the public option as “big government” while defending a watered-down plan.

Update TPM writes, "Still, if Young's lack of insurance did contribute to her not seeking treatment sooner, it would be hard to find a starker or more compelling example of the need to fix our broken health insurance system. And the fact that she was a constituent of the man who's leading House Republicans' in their effort to block reform only underlines the point."

Joe "You Lie" Wilson to stump Oct. 2 in Jackson

By TODD SPANGLER

WASHINGTON — Former U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg of Tipton is bringing South Carolina’s Joe Wilson — the Republican congressman who started a stir by shouting “You lie!” during President Barack Obama’s speech to Congress this month — to Michigan.

Walberg, a one-term Republican who was beaten in his re-election bid by Battle Creek Democrat Mark Schauer, announced the event on his campaign Web site, saying Wilson will be at the Commonwealth Conference Center in Jackson for a fund-raiser on Oct. 2.

It costs $150 for two tickets and a photo with Wilson at 7:30 a.m., or $20 a person to get into the 8 a.m. gathering. For more details, go to www.walbergforcongress.com.

Wilson apologized for his outburst — which came during a speech on health care to a joint session of Congress on Sept. 9 — and Obama accepted the apology. But it hasn't hurt Wilson’s popularity among many conservatives. On Walberg’s Web site under Wilson’s name, it says, “Stand for Truth.”

Wilson shouted, “You lie!” after the president said health care reform would not cover illegal immigrants. Critics have said that without plain language denying illegal immigrants entry into a public option health plan and federally mandated health care exchanges, it would effectively cover them — even though, the legislation clearly states they would not be eligible for federal premium subsidies.

A bill being debated in the Senate Finance Committee says that illegal immigrants would not be able to take part in the exchanges, and it excludes the public option entirely.

Sarah Blaney, Schauer’s spokeswoman, had this to say about the Walberg event: “By embracing his former colleague, Tim Walberg has made it clear that he embraces what is wrong with Washington and is not serious about fixing our broken health care system. If you are the company you keep, then Tim Walberg stands with Joe Wilson and the obstructionists.”

Thursday, September 24, 2009

King: Same-Sex Marriage Is ‘A Purely Socialist Concept’

By Matt Corley In April, when the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously struck down a state law defining marriage as solely between a man and a woman, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) called it an “unconstitutional” decision and predicted that it could lead to Iowa becoming “the gay marriage Mecca.” On WorldNetDaily’s radio show today, King was asked what the “impact” of the decision has been on Iowa. He replied by saying that his prediction is becoming true:

KING: Well, we’ve had a significant percentage of people that have come to Iowa as same-sex couples to get married. And that, that percentage is up there some place over a fourth, if I remember correctly on the data that I have seen, and I don’t know that anything is complete at this point. I said that if this is allowed to stand, Iowa will become the Mecca for same-sex marriage and that is becoming the case. I know that there have been buses that have been, have gone to Iowa with loads of people in them in order to get married under the judge-made law.

Earlier this week, the Des Moines Register released a poll showing that “Iowans are almost evenly divided about whether they would vote for or against a constitutional amendment to end marriage for same-sex couples.” It also found that “the overwhelming majority of Iowans – 92 percent – say gay marriage has brought no real change to their lives.” Asked about the poll, King complained that many Iowans do not have “a very good understanding of what same-sex marriage does to the overall institution of marriage.” After claiming that “Rick Santorum was right” when he said that expanding gay rights would lead to a “right to incest,” King asserted that same-sex marriage is “a purely socialist concept”:

KING: But if, there also would be no rational argument against group marriage. And I just take this along the rationale even further and would say if relationships between individuals cannot be prohibited by the state legislature then there is no ban that can actually be constitutional that would ban group marriage. And it wouldn’t have to be for reasons of, let me say, love or lust. It could be reasons of profitability or avoiding taxes or accessing benefits.

So in the end this is something that has to come with a, if there’s a push for a socialist society, a society where the foundations of individual rights and liberties are undermined and everybody is thrown together, living collectively off of one pot of resources earned by everyone. That is, this is one of the goals they have to go to is same-sex marriage because it has to plow through marriage in order to get to their goal. They want public affirmation. They want access to public funds and resources. Eventually all those resources will be pooled because that’s the direction we’re going. And not only is it a radical social idea, it is a purely socialist concept in the final analysis.

Listen here:

Transcript:

HOST: As many of our listeners are aware, of course, your state by judicial fiat earlier this year legalized gay marriage and did not even put a restriction on requiring that those gay couples getting married be from Iowa. What has been the impact on your state as a result of that decision?

KING: Well, we’ve had a significant percentage of people that’ve come to Iowa as same-sex couples to get married. And that, that percentage is up there some place over a fourth, if I remember correctly on the data that I have seen, and I don’t know that anything is complete at this point. I said that if this is allowed to stand, Iowa will become the Mecca for same-sex marriage and that is becoming the case. I know that there have been buses that have been, have gone to Iowa with loads of people in them in order to get married under the judge-made law. And I believe that the judge-made law in Iowa is an extraconstitutional decision. It’s completely not based Constitution, our constitutional rights. They draw an assumption that a same-sex couple is similarly situated to opposite sex couples and therefore they’re covered by the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment. And we know that they are not similarly situated. That once you assume that, the rest of the logic follows. And I said at the time that if this can stand in Iowa, they will use this rationale in other states and it looks like they’re using it in the federal courts in the district that is dealing with a case in Massachusetts right now.

[...]

HOST: Congressman, you’ve explained how difficult it is to amend your state’s Constitution, needing the legislature to go through the process before it ever gets to the people. Are you still confident, I know back when we talked at the time of the court’s decision you were confident that if it ever got to the people it would overwhelmingly choose traditional marriage only. There’s a new poll out showing its pretty much split in the state. Do you think there’s a shift or do you think if it still got on the ballot in a couple years from now that the folks would choose traditional marriage?

KING: I think that there’s been a little bit of a shift and part of it is because people have not noticed a change around them. And they are teaching the young people that there is an equal protection right to same-sex marriage and then they all argue that it doesn’t effect your marriage, you can still marry a person of the opposite sex in the same fashion that you always could. We haven’t come to grips with this thing very well yet in that there’s not a very good understanding of what same-sex marriage does to the overall institution of marriage itself. And we need to carry that argument out and let’s do that over the next couple of years and get this on the ballot so that Iowa isn’t the only state outside of the northeast that has same-sex marriage within it. And I, and I just would extend that rationale and argue this, that if marriage is something other than union between one man and one woman. If it can be, if the argument is that there’s an equal protection law, if there’s a right to same-sex marriage, if that right exists then that means Rick Santorum was right. The right also exists for any other relationship that one might argue. Then there would exist no ban, no rational foundation to prohibit incest, for example, between father and a son or a daughter or a mother and a son or daughter, for example or brothers and sisters. Every civilization has had a prohibition towards incest and every civilization has at least promoted relationships between a man and a woman, even though some have tolerated same-sex relationships more or less than others.

But if, there also would be no rational argument against group marriage. And I just take this along the rationale even further and would say if relationships between individuals cannot be prohibited by the state legislature then there is no ban that can actually be constitutaional that would ban group marriage. And it wouldn’t have to be for reasons of, let me say, love or lust. It could be reasons of profitability or avoiding taxes or accessing benefits. So in the end this is something that has to come with a, if there’s a push for a socialist society, a society where the foundations of individual rights and liberties are undermined and everybody is thrown together, living collectively off of one pot of resources earned by everyone. That is, this is one of the goals they have to go to is same-sex marriage because it has to plow through marriage in order to get to their goal. They want public affirmation. They want access to public funds and resources. Eventually all those resources will be pooled because that’s the direction we’re going. And not only is it a radical social idea, it is a purely socialist concept in the final analysis.

After being chastized by Cantor’s ‘PR flack,’ Ed Schultz challenges the congressman to a one-hour debate.

By Zaid Jilani

At a forum this past Monday, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) fielded questions from his constituents about health care reform. As ThinkProgress first reported, Cantor told a woman whose relative was diagnosed with cancer and could not get care to get “an existing government program” or turn to charity. Today, radio and television host Ed Schultz told listeners that after featuring video of the incident on his show, he received an e-mail from a “PR flack” in Cantor’s office chiding him for going after the congressman. In response, Schultz asked his listeners today to e-mail Cantor’s office and ask him to come on his show, offering him the whole hour to debate him on health care:

SCHULTZ: Call Cantor’s office or e-mail him and ask him if he’ll go head-to-head with me for a full hour on the Ed show. A full hour. I’ll give him a full hour! To explain what the Republican plan is or is she just left to die? [...]

Come on, Cantor. Don’t hide behind your press secretary. Let’s get it on.

Listen here:

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Cantor To Uninsured Woman With Growing Tumors: Get ‘An Existing Government Program’ Or Find Charity

At the Richmond Times-Dispatch “public square” forum yesterday, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) fielded open questions from his constituents on the health reform debate for the first time this summer.

Patricia Churchill relayed a story about a close family member who recently lost a high paying job and her health insurance. Churchill told Cantor that her relative was dying of stomach tumors and needs an operation as soon as possible. Cantor responded by suggesting that Churchill’s relative should seek “existing government programs” or find charity.

Cantor, who serves as the chief whip for his party, has said that he cannot support a health reform bill with a public option. But despite his political opposition to government insurance programs, Cantor then emphasized to Churchill that every American should be given an “option” for health care, including a government program:

CHURCHILL: I have a very close relative, a woman in her early forties, who did have a wonderful, high-paying job, owns her own home and is a real contributing member of society. She lost her job. Just a couple of weeks ago, she found out that she has tumors in her belly and that she needs an operation. Her doctors told her that they are growing and that she needs to get this operation quickly. She has no insurance. [...]

CANTOR: First of all I guess I would ask what the situation is in terms of income eligibility and the existing programs that are out there. Because if we look at the uninsured that are out there right now, there is probably 23, 24% of the uninsured that is already eligible for an existing government program [...] Beyond that, I know that there are programs, there are charitable organizations, there are hospitals here who do provide charity care if there’s an instance of indigency and the individual is not eligible for existing programs that there can be some cooperative effort. No one in this country, given who we are, should be sitting without an option to be addressed.

Watch it:

In an interview with ThinkProgress after the event, Churchill explained that her relative, who needs help now, probably won’t qualify for a low-income government program like Medicaid and that there are very long waiting periods for charity programs. Asked about Cantor’s response to her question, Churchill said, “it was helpful in a sense, but of course nowhere near as helpful as having this healthcare reform bill passed so that we could know that she could definitely go and get taken care of.”

Today, Cantor called for “scrapping” President Obama’s proposed public option insurance program.

General Motors Bans Michael Moore From Detroit Premiere Of His Own Movie

By Zaid Jilani

Michael Moore’s next documentary is “Capitalism: A Love Story,” a film which attacks the U.S. economic system as fundamentally unjust and declares, “Capitalism is an evil, and you cannot regulate evil. You have to eliminate it and replace it with something that is good for all people and that something is democracy.”

Although the movie is not set to open nationwide until Oct. 2, Moore has been premiering a number of sneak preview screenings for Detroit residents in his home state of Michigan. But, as Michigan Live reports, Moore ran into problems when it turned out one of the theaters he rented for the screenings was owned by General Motors (GM) — which Moore famously skewered for its anti-worker policies in his 1989 film Roger & Me.

GM agreed to run the movie only if both Moore and the local press were locked out. Essentially, GM banned Moore from his own screening. A local Detroit news station interviewed Moore about the incident. He said GM should “get over” its grudge against him and be more accountable to citizens, especially in light of the billions of dollars the government has loaned it:

MOORE: General Motors said that I could not be on the premises doing any interviews or press. … I would get over it if I were them. … In the movie I actually try to attempt to see the new chairman to share my ideas about mass transit and other things that the General Motors factories could be building that would benefit about society. … We have 50 billion dollars of our money sitting over there. That is owned by us now. And the de facto CEO is President Barack Obama. I legally rented the four theaters to have my Detroit premiere, and yet somehow they’re able to ban me from my own premiere here? What country are we living in?

Watch it:

In addition to the over 1,000 theater opening Oct. 2, Moore plans to screen the film for free on Oct. 1 in some of the poorest parts of the country.

Update Despite GM's warning against Moore coming to the screening at their theater, the filmmaker decided to attend anyway. He joined Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) and others to discuss the film after the credits rolled. Watch it:

Lieberman jokes about running in 2012 as a Republican.

By Matt Corley This morning, Politico reported on how some Democratic senators are already preparing for their reelection efforts in 2012, “boosting their campaign coffers, raising millions for an election that is still 37 months away.” In an interview, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) joked that he could potentially run as a Republican:Several Senate Democrats up in 2012 have already joined the million-dollar club, including Kent Conrad of North Dakota, Bill Nelson of Florida, Dianne Feinstein of California and Sherrod Brown of Ohio, as well as independent Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, who caucuses with Senate Democrats. Several more are expected to surpass the million-dollar mark when the latest round of campaign finance reports is released Oct. 15.

Lieberman, who had $1.4 million through June 30, said he was unsure whether he would run in 2012 as a Democrat or an independent.

“Or a Republican,” Lieberman jokingly added. “I have all sorts of options.”

Some Democrats might not find Lieberman’s joke very funny. After Lieberman bucked his party and supported Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) for president — even delivering a speech at the Republican National Convention — some of his Senate colleagues wanted him to be punished, with some suggesting that he should lose his chairmanship of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Instead, they let him off with slap on the wrist.

Bachmann heaps praise on O’Reilly and Beck: That’s where people want to go to find the truth.

By Faiz Shakir

In an interview with Fox News, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) kissed up to Bill O’Reilly and his audience, telling producer Jesse Watters, “The Factor is the factor. That’s what’s important.” Bachmann then showered O’Reilly and Glenn Beck with her praise:

People vote with their feet. And they love Bill O’Reilly; they love Glenn Beck. They love the shows that are on Fox. That’s what matters. Because people want to go where they can find truth. They obviously aren’t finding truth over on some of these other channels.

Watch it:

Bachmann has gone on Fox News to claim health care reform is unconstitutional, that the Census is dangerous because it was used to intern the Japanese, and that Alaskan caribou favor oil drilling because they like the the warmth of the pipeline. Together, the Fox News network and Bachmann create a very “truthy” tag-team.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Report: GOP Leadership Worried About Damage To GOP's Reputation From Bachmann

The Politico reports that House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) and Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) are worried about the potential damage to the party's reputation from a certain back-bencher: Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN).

This paragraph is buried deep within their latest piece on Boehner's efforts to keep up with the GOP base:

Sources say they [Boehner and Cantor] have been especially wary of the possible damage inflicted on the party's reputation by bomb-throwing Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), who last fall called for an investigation into whether members of Congress are "pro-America or anti-America."

They certainly are in a bind when it comes to Bachmann. On the one hand, the base loves her and she's frequently invited on television. On the other hand, she calls for revolution and warns against the government using Census data to round people up into internment camps. What's a body to do?

Bill Moyers: Tea Party Organizer Is Epitome Of Privilege (VIDEO)

The Huffington Post | Lila Shapiro

This exclusive clip is from the latest episode of "Bill Moyers Journal," which airs tonight. In the episode, Moyers goes after FreedomWorks Chairman Dick Armey -- one of the key figures using large industry donations to fund "Tea Party" rallies around the country, such as the the 9/12 march in Washington DC last week.

"Here's the catch," Moyers says after showing video clips with protesters decrying "the lies" coming from the Obama administration. "Something these marchers who came to Washington at Armey's urging could hardly be expected to know. For most of his adult life, their leader has benefited from just the kind of government tax-supported health care he's fighting to keep them from having too."

It's a fascinating run down of Armey's adult life working in universities and for the government, made comfortable and secure by state-funded health care -- "the Cadillac of coverage."

"Dick Armey is the epitome of those people with power and privilege who are insured against the vicissitudes of life and want no government assistance for any suffering except their own," Moyers says.

Rockefeller criticizes the ‘Gang of Six’: ‘You don’t do legislation that way.’

By Zaid Jilani

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) appeared on the Charlie Rose Show last night to discuss his criticisms of Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus’ (D-MT) bill. He announced he will introduce at least 17 amendments to the Baucus proposal. “This is my chance, having not be a part of the Gang of Six,” to improve the legislation, he said. When asked if he was “thrilled” about the so-called “Gang of Six,” Rockefeller responded that he doesn’t think legislation should be done that way:

ROSE: You’re not thrilled by the Gang of Six, are you?

ROCKEFELLER: No I’m not. No I’m not. But that’s — I just don’t think you do legislation that way, and particularly if you end up not getting any of the three Republicans, and hopefully we will get Olympia Snowe.

Watch it:

Rockefeller said earlier this week that there is “no way” he can vote for the Baucus plan that emerged from the “Gang of Six” as it currently is written. “I want to get it right,” he said last night. “I want it to be a real improvement in health care.”

Jindal blocks non-existent state funding for ACORN.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) is trying to shore up his anti-ACORN bona fides. The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports today that Jindal issued an executive order barring state funds from going to the community organizing group. However, there’s one small kink in Jindal’s plan:

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal issued an executive order to keep any state money from going to the controversy-wracked Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, which has its national headquarters in New Orleans.

According to the state’s Division of Administration, no state agencies have existing contracts with ACORN.

Since recently released videos showing ACORN staff engaging in inappropriate and potentially unlawful activity, the group’s president said ACORN will conduct a “thorough review” of the organization’s operation. (HT: TPM)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Bill O'Reilly Backs Public Option (VIDEO)

From Huffy Post

Bombastic Fox News host Bill O'Reilly made a rather notable policy pronouncement on Wednesday's show: he supports the creation of a government-managed health care plan if it provides working Americans with an affordable option to other private insurance plans.

In other words, he supports the public option now being hotly debated in Congress.

As noted by DailyKos' Jed Lewison, O'Reilly had the following exchange with the Heritage Foundation's Nina Owcharenko:

O'REILLY: The public option now is done. We discussed this, it's not going to happen. But you say that this little marketplace that they're going to set up, whereby the federal government would subsidize insurance for some Americans, that is, in your opinion, a public option?

OWCHARENKO: Well, it has massive new federal regulation. So you don't necessarily need a public option if the federal government is going to control and regulate the type of health insurance that Americans can buy.

O'REILLY: But you know, I want that, Ms. Owcharenko. I want that. I want, not for personally for me, but for working Americans, to have a option, that if they don't like their health insurance, if it's too expensive, they can't afford it, if the government can cobble together a cheaper insurance policy that gives the same benefits, I see that as a plus for the folks.

Watch video:

Indeed, supporters of the public option do so for the very reasons O'Reilly notes. A study by the nonpartisan Commonwealth Fund, "a public coverage program similar to Medicare would reduce projected health care costs by about $2 trillion over 11 years, and reduce premiums by about 20% on average. Within about a decade, 105 million people would be enrolled in the public plan, and about 107 million would have private insurance, according to the Commonwealth Fund."

M.C.L comment: Who got the over/under until Bill-O backtracks on this one?

REPORT: ‘Duplicitous’ Campaign Of Insurers To Charm The Public While Secretly Killing Reform

By Lee Fang

This week, ThinkProgress spoke with Wendell Potter, a former VP of communications at health insurance giant CIGNA, about exactly how insurance companies derail reform and preserve the status quo. Working in public relations for CIGNA, Potter had a direct role in multiple campaigns in the past to minimize public outrage at insurance company abuses, defeat legislation aimed at regulating insurers, and the massive effort to discredit Michael Moore and his movie SiCKO. In addition to enormous amounts of money spent in direct lobbying and campaign contributions, Potter spelled out exactly how insurance companies have prepared to defeat meaningful reform.

Planned well before this year, insurance company CEOs, like Potter’s former boss at CIGNA (H. Edward Hadway), formed a group called the Strategic Communications Committee to developed effective messages and strategy for the industry. Organized through AHIP, the lobbying front for insurance companies, the committee would work with large public relations companies to devise a two-pronged, “duplicitous campaign.” Because insurance companies suffer from low public approval, Potter said, the industry would present itself as “for reform” to the public, yet at the same time label proponents of meaningful reform as “extreme.” The public campaign is for the most part positive, and largely delivered by industry representatives like AHIP chief lobbyist Karen Ignagni. Potter noted:

It’s really a duplicitous PR campaign. They will talk about, in broad terms, how supportive they are of health care reform, but they will be working behind the scenes to kill very, very crucial parts of reform legislation like the public option.

Potter then explained how insurers would use a variety of front groups, set up by PR companies like APCO, to advance a hidden attack campaign. The “dirty” campaign involved feeding talking points to right-wing media, like Rush Limbaugh and Fox News. It also includes the creation of front groups to run negative advertisements about reform and mobilize anti-reform “grassroots” groups. Finally, insurers would coordinate with, and sometimes fund, conservative think-tanks to produce academic-appearing reports to advance their cause. Leaked memos from the insurance companies — regarding the campaign against Moore’s SiCKO movie — not only support Potter’s assertions, but specifically describe every step of this process.

Watch Potter explain how insurers control the debate to defeat reform:

To better illustrate the insurers’ two-faced campaign to kill reform, we have produced this chart. Click more to continue continue reading and to view the chart.

Insurance Company Chart

Click here for ThinkProgress’ research page on the health insurers’ campaign against reform.