Jewish World Review Jan. 5, 2006/ 5 Teves,
Koppel and Brokaw: Health care is a right
Ted Koppel, who formerly hosted "Nightline," and Tom Brokaw, who formerly hosted the "NBC Nightly News," recently sat down with NBC's Tim Russert on "Meet the Press."
(By way of background, Russert, the senior vice president and Washington, D.C., bureau chief for NBC News, once worked for New York Democratic Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan and New York Gov. Mario Cuomo. Meanwhile, across the dial, ABC promoted former Clinton aide George Stephanopolous of "This Week" to chief Washington correspondent at ABC News. But we digress.)
With Koppel and Brokaw's "retirement," one wonders whether they might be careless and reveal their liberal bias in favor of big government, high taxes and regulation. They didn't disappoint. Remember former Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry said, "Health care should be a right, not a privilege"? Koppel and Brokaw apparently agree.
Koppel: " . . . [W]e have been priding ourselves on having the best medical care in the world – and you know something? You can get the best medical care in the world, he can get the best medical care in the world, I can. Most Americans can't. And there are 43 million Americans who aren't getting any medical care at all. That is a scandal."
Note Koppel made no distinction between those without medical care and those without medical insurance.
Russert should have said, "I think you mean there are 43 million Americans without medical insurance. And even the term 'American' should be taken with a grain of salt. For, out of the 43 million, this includes approximately 10 million people here illegally. Furthermore, the 43 million includes a large number of young, healthy Americans who decided to keep the money otherwise spent on premiums. And of that 43 million, Ted, approximately 20 million go without health-care insurance for four months or less. So when you get down to it, the hard-core number of Americans without health-care insurance is probably 10 to 15 million Americans, and out of a population of nearly 280 million, do we really want to call this a crisis?"
Russert might have continued, "Furthermore, Ted, by law, any hospital that accepts government funds – including Medicare and Medicaid – must treat indigents in its ER. And don't forget about Medicaid, under which poor people get health care through taxpayers. To say nothing of free clinics found in virtually every city, no- or low-cost vaccination programs, and programs under which drug companies give free drugs to those who cannot afford it." But Russert said nothing.
Now, on to Mr. Brokaw.
Brokaw: "That [medical care] is getting attention at least, where people are trying to come to grips with that. And what was so stunning to me was that the Bush administration, after winning a very sizeable popular vote in the 2004 election, put as its highest priority the reform of Social Security and not health care in America, because I thought that's where most people were concerned."
I almost fell out of my chair.
Honestly, did Brokaw, following Bush's victory in 2004, expect the president to announce "Hillarycare" as his top priority!!??? Yeah, Kerry promised this, but the president promised to reform Social Security. Pardon Bush for attempting to fulfill a campaign promise. And pardon Bush for at least voicing Republican principles that our health-care system suffers from too much government interference, rather than too little.
One more word about the former "Nightline" host's "Meet the Press" interview: Remember, Koppel said, you have the best medical care, Tim, and you do, Tom, and I do, but most Americans don't. News flash for Mr. Koppel: Super-rich guys like you possess the power to get more, bigger, better, faster. That's why so many people aspire to wealth.
This goes to the huge issue of media bias and its influence on how people feel, think and vote. Two years ago, a UCLA political scientist named Tim Groseclose studied media bias. He certainly anticipated a leftward tilt, "because surveys have shown that reporters tend to vote more Democrat than Republican." But the magnitude of the leftward bias surprised even him. His co-author, Jeff Milyo, said, "There is a quantifiable and significant bias in that nearly all of them [major media outlets] lean to the left."
Brokaw and Koppel's attitudes explain the number of "news" pieces showing the allegedly excellent health-care coverage Europeans and Canadians receive. This explains why, for example, during televised discussions over health care, you rarely see a free market talking head opposing price controls, pushing for less regulation and urging more private sector competition.
No, Koppel, Brokaw and Russert (by his silence), effectively say: Health care is a right; taxpayers are morally obligated to pay for it; and Bush turned his back on voters by not supporting Hillarycare.
But then, there's no such thing as media bias.
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JWR contributor Larry Elder is the author of, most recently, "Showdown: Confronting Bias, Lies and the Special Interests That Divide America."
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