If you went on CNN.com this morning, you probably saw this headline: Obamacare: Voters, are you stupid? You might have watched this video:
And heard the ominous narration:
“Leave it to one of the key consultants of the Affordable Care Act to inflict the kind of damage to the president’s signature achievement in Congress that Republicans were never quite able to muster.”
Oh dear. What now?
The accompanying text tells the reader that,
Years-old but newly scrutinized videos of MIT economics professor Jonathan Gruber ignited a political firestorm this week because the self-described architect of Obamacare thanks “the stupidity of the American voter” for leading to passage of the president’s signature piece of legislation.
The only problem is, this is a lot of fuss over nothing, and as Media Matters puts it, simply a part of The Fraudulent Media Campaign To Scandalize Obamacare’s Passage. And it is something that Media Matters went to the trouble of exposing on Thursday.
CNN apparently didn’t get word that there really was no scandal to go along with the “shocking remarks,” and jumped on the scandal on Sunday.
You know, three days after is was already proven there was no scandal.
This is what Gruber originally said:
The bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes. If [CBO] scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. Okay, so it’s written to do that. In terms of risk-rated subsidies, if you had a law which said that healthy people are going to pay in — you made explicit that healthy people pay in and sick people get money — it would not have passed…Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter, or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical for the thing to pass.
The Republicans who ensured that all this came out when it did, just as Obamacare is proving its popularity with the American public, all jumped on this with cries of “deceit!”, “lies!” and “fraud!”
But The New York Times’ Neil Irwin pointed out on Wednesday, that this is simply how legislation is written, that,
Mr. Gruber was exposing something sordid yet completely commonplace about how Congress makes policy of all types: Legislators frequently game policy to fit the sometimes arbitrary conventions by which the Congressional Budget Office evaluates laws and the public debates them.
According to Irwin, “This kind of gamesmanship is a very much bipartisan affair.” And he explains that “Mr. Gruber was, in an infelicitous way, expressing frustration with that state of affairs.”
And Brian Beutler, at the New Republican, pointed out that,
First, Gruber’s actually overstating the degree to which the ACA needed to be finessed in order to pass. It’s true that the bill’s authors took steps to maximize its public appeal and minimize its vulnerabilities. Everyone writing significant legislation does this.
So this is nothing to get excited about. Republicans do this too. And they are more than willing to “forget” that fact so they can have yet another scandal with which to attack President Obama.
Of course, the mainstream media won’t tell you this. You won’t see CNN explaining this in any helpful way. Rather, CNN would prefer to be part of the problem, and run with scandalous headlines which further the Republican cause.
Yet contrary to everything the mainstream media is telling us, Beutler points out that “the Obamacare debate was one of the most transparent in recent memory,” and Media Matters points to the following:
Senate Held Years Of Bipartisan Hearings On Health Care Reform Before ACA Passed. Former Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) posted a timeline of his committee’s work on health care reform since 2008, which included more than a dozen hearings through 2008-09 and “31 bipartisan meetings to discuss the development of a health care reform bill” between June and September of 2009. [Senate.gov, accessed 11/12/14]
Media Matters also reminds us that Sen. Angus King (I-ME) responded to Gruber’s allegations by pointing out that “There was long debate about it on both sides.”
“I certainly don’t endorse those kind of comments. But I can recall that debate. I wasn’t in office. [I]t was a very vigorous debate,” King said when asked about Gruber’s comments. “Everybody knew that there were going to be additional taxes required to support the support for premiums under the Affordable Care Act. I don’t see it as any deep, dark conspiracy. There were all kinds of — there was long debate about it on both sides.” [The Washington Post, Post Politics, 11/11/14]
CNN mentions neither Baucus nor King, and you won’t find the word “debate” there either. CNN is, however, quick to point to Democrats and say they are being less than candid in response to the revelations. It is an image of impartiality we see on CNN, not the real thing.
Needless to say then, nobody seeing the CNN piece this morning is going to get an accurate analysis of the “scandal” but rather, will be force-fed Republican talking points. CNN tells readers that the controversy (which really isn’t much of a controversy), “is giving Republicans’ claims that the Obama administration misled voters on the “truth” of the Affordable Care Act more credence.” The trouble is, CNN doesn’t bother to disabuse readers of GOP talking points.
None of this is terribly surprising. We’ve seen “scandal” after “scandal” since the Republicans decided that the Obama presidency must be relentlessly sabotaged into failure. And they’ve done their best, both to make Obama a one-term president, and then, failing that, to completely obstruct his administration and even threatening to sue or impeach him for being what he was elected to be: president.
None of this helps America, of course. Hoodwinked by Republican propaganda, most people aren’t going to know what’s really going on, or what the facts are. This is proven by Gallup’s headline this morning, that more people disapprove of Obamacare than approve of it.
The mainstream media no longer concerns itself with facts, and Republican talking points, only loosely associated with our shared reality, have become “facts” instead. These, the MSM does not question.
Because, after all, why would the corporations giving you the “news,” question the corporations who have a vested interest in keeping the facts from the American people? We may not be stupid, as Gruber said, but we are misinformed, and CNN and the rest of the mainstream media – which we would really do better to think of as corporate propaganda organs – likes it that way.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.