Elevating the same day-old despicable actions of a few on which ABC also focused on Saturday’s World News, ABC on Sunday devoted a full story to the topic. David Kerley reported that, “surrounded by angry protesters at the Capitol, someone yelled the N-word at” Congressman John Lewis” and “a few steps below, Representative Emanuel Cleaver was spat on,”while “as openly gay Representative Barney Frank walked the halls, a homophobic slur.”
Kerley began with the Democrats’ exploitation of the Lewis incident. Over video of Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer walking side-by-side with Lewis as they joined hands, Kerley hailed “a remarkable scene, a remarkable statement. The Speaker and Democratic leader walking hand in hand to go vote today, with Representative John Lewis, who yesterday was reminded of old battles from his civil rights days.” Over black and white video, Kerley reminded viewers of how Lewis “was beaten by police as he led protesters across the Selma, Alabama, bridge” and so “it was hard to forget the history, as Lewis made that strikingly symbolic walk today.”
After reciting the benefits of the legislation, Sawyer turned to Dr. Tim Johnson, a long-time advocate of nationalization well to the left of what the House was about to pass. He cited “experts” who say “it's no accident that every other developed country in the world has universal coverage, and every other developed country in the world has lower per capita health care costs than we do.”
Sawyer asked: “In six months, an insurance company cannot drop you if you get sick. How big is that?” Johnson insisted: “That's huge because, both financially and medically, that provision can quite literally kill people.”
Sunday morning: “CBS: ‘Mean from the Start’ Health Debate ‘Turned Even Nastier Yesterday’ with ‘Racial Epithets’ and ‘Sexual Slurs’”
Saturday night: “ABC: Anti-ObamaCare Protest ‘Turned Very Ugly’ with ‘Racial and Homophobic Slurs’”
The coverage on the Sunday, March 21 World News on ABC, transcripts provided by the MRC’s Brad Wilmouth:
DIANE SAWYER: Opponents of the bill have been out today, and some of them pulled out all the stops. Protesters roaming Washington, some of them increasingly emotional, yelling slurs and epithets. David Kerley tracked them.
DAVID KERLEY: A remarkable scene, a remarkable statement. The Speaker and Democratic leader walking hand in hand to go vote today, with Representative John Lewis, who yesterday was reminded of old battles from his civil rights days.
CLIP OF PROTESTERS: Kill the bill! Kill the bill!
KERLEY: Surrounded by angry protesters at the Capitol, someone yelled the N-word at Lewis. And a few steps below, Representative Emanuel Cleaver was spat on. Watch as Cleaver berates the protesters, saying, "You spit on me, you spit on me." Cleaver declined to press charges. And inside, as openly gay Representative Barney Frank walked the halls, a homophobic slur.
VOICE HEARD AMONG PROTESTERS: Barney Frank is a-
REP. BARNEY FRANK (D-MA): I think the Republicans are making a great mistake in thinking that they can benefit politically from these kind of thug tactics.
KERLEY: Actually, Republicans today were trying to distance themselves.
MICHAEL STEELE, RNC CHAIRMAN, ON NBC'S MEET THE PRESS: This is certainly not a reflection of the movement or the Republican party when you have some idiots out there saying very stupid things.
KERLEY: Several protesters refused to believe the incidents even took place. Others say they should not taint their movement.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE PROTESTER: That actually takes away from what we're trying to do here. I don't condone it.
REVEREND LEONARD N. SMITH, MOUNT ZION BAPTIST CHURCH: They may call you the N-word again, but stand up for what's right!
KERLEY: John Lewis was among those in church this morning, with thoughts of 1965, when he was beaten by police as he led protesters across the Selma, Alabama, bridge. And thoughts of yesterday, walking the steps on Capitol Hill.
REP. JOHN LEWIS (D-GA): Well, it reminded me of another period in our history. I don't want to make much of it. I want to keep the emphasis on what we must do today.
KERLEY: But it was hard to forget the history, as Lewis made that strikingly symbolic walk today. Lewis is in the House behind me right now with the other members debating the health care reform bill, and all those protesters have been moved. They swarmed these steps last night, but they've all been moved south of the House, where the House members may still be able to hear them. Nobody was arrested yesterday with all those incidents, Diane, but today, two of the health care reform protesters were arrested.
SAWYER; All right, David, and thank you.
DIANE SAWYER: And we think no one knows more about American health care and health care around the world than our senior medial editor, Dr. Tim Johnson, who is joining us on this big night. Tim, the biggest change you see for health in America, as a physician?
TIM JOHNSON: Well, as a physician, it has to be the fact that some 30 million Americans will now get insurance who don't have it. That's a key item medically because people with insurance tend to go in earlier for preventive care, they tend to go in earlier when they have symptoms, when diseases can be treated more cheaply and more effectively. We take care of these people without insurance now, but we do it at a later stage when it tends to cost more. So many experts think that this will also make a big difference financially in helping down the line to control costs. People will go in, have things taken care of in a preventive fashion, or earlier.
They say – these experts – it's no accident that every other developed country in the world has universal coverage, and every other developed country in the world has lower per capita health care costs than we do. They think there's a connection between having insurance and controlling costs.
SAWYER: And a quick question about those who do have insurance now. That provision we just mentioned: In six months, an insurance company cannot drop you if you get sick. How big is that?
JOHNSON: That's huge because, both financially and medically, that provision can quite literally kill people. It costs them a fortune for serious chronic disease, and it often leads to premature death because they don't get necessary treatment. So I think that's a huge factor.
SAWYER: All right, Dr. Timothy Johnson, great to talk to you tonight.