CNBC Goes into 'Crisis' Mode at Height of ObamaCare Debate

July 31st, 2009 12:32 PM

Balanced? Sure. Hyperbolic? Definitely.

Invoking the word "crisis" might conjure up images of a Category 5 hurricane bearing down on the U.S. Gulf Coast or some other situation where decisive action much be taken to avert impending doom. But, is it appropriate to suddenly attach it to the key issue put forth by Obama administration, such as health care?

On July 30, CNBC dedicated its three-hour morning show "Squawk Box" to the issue and labeled the special coverage: "America's Healthcare Crisis." CNBC used the word "crisis" despite polls (including a July 30 Time article) that found 80 percent of the respondents satisfied with their health care.

"This is a special presentation of ‘Squawk Box,'" the CNBC announcer said. "America's health care crisis goes under the microscope. In the waiting room, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, former Majority Leader Sen. Bill Frist, CVS/Caremark CEO Thomas Ryan, Sen. Judd Gregg, the president of the federation of American hospitals and former Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala. How an overhaul of America's health care system affects everything, from company costs, to a trip to the emergency room. Who's paying for it? And what about consumer protection? These questions and more as our special ‘Squawk Box' summit ‘America's Healthcare Crisis' begins now."

Throughout the day, CNBC continued its "crisis" theme playing into the hands of the White House. That word, "crisis," holds special meaning for the Obama administraiton. On Nov. 9, 2008, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel admitted a "crisis" was the best opportunity to alter public policy.

"Rule one: Never allow a crisis to go to waste," Emanuel said. "They are opportunities to do big things."

And that's what Sen. Jim DeMint, R- S.C., noted about the stimulus debate earlier this year. The junior South Carolina senator, speaking Jan. 27 at The Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., explained the Obama administration will "create crisis and widespread panic" just like its predecessor in order to get Congress to act expeditiously.

"I've been around long enough to know whenever someone tells me I have to make a decision right now, my response is no," DeMint said. "That clears it up right away and I think more and more the Bush administration and now this administration knows that they're not going to get a quick reaction out of Congress unless they create crisis and widespread panic. And that's going to be their M.O. to get Congress to act."