Olbermann Challenged: 'Do You Have the Backbone to Debate Me?'

February 15th, 2009 3:51 PM

A health policy expert who Keith Olbermann eviscerated during Thursday's "Countdown" (video embedded below the fold) has officially challenged the disgraceful MSNBC personality to a debate concerning provisions in the soon to be enacted stimulus plan.

In a press release issued Friday, Betsy McCaughey stated (h/t TVNewser):

If Keith Olbermann of MSNBC could defend the health provisions slipped into the stimulus bill on their merits, he wouldn't be resorting to personal attacks on me. Olbermann calls me a shill funded by the drug industry (2-12-2009). That's not true...If Keith Olbermann has the courage, I invite him to debate me on his program...Mr. Olbermann, do you have the backbone (and the facts) to debate me?

Our story began last Monday when McCaughey published the following at Bloomberg:

Republican Senators are questioning whether President Barack Obama’s stimulus bill contains the right mix of tax breaks and cash infusions to jump-start the economy.

Tragically, no one from either party is objecting to the health provisions slipped in without discussion. These provisions reflect the handiwork of Tom Daschle, until recently the nominee to head the Health and Human Services Department.

Senators should read these provisions and vote against them because they are dangerous to your health. (Page numbers refer to H.R. 1 EH, pdf version). [...]

One new bureaucracy, the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, will monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective. The goal is to reduce costs and “guide” your doctor’s decisions (442, 446). These provisions in the stimulus bill are virtually identical to what Daschle prescribed in his 2008 book, “Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis.” According to Daschle, doctors have to give up autonomy and “learn to operate less like solo practitioners.”   [...]

The goal, Daschle’s book explained, is to slow the development and use of new medications and technologies because they are driving up costs. He praises Europeans for being more willing to accept “hopeless diagnoses” and “forgo experimental treatments,” and he chastises Americans for expecting too much from the health-care system.

Daschle says health-care reform “will not be pain free.” Seniors should be more accepting of the conditions that come with age instead of treating them. That means the elderly will bear the brunt.

McCaughey's piece was quickly linked at the Drudge Report, and was then referred to by Rush Limbaugh, the Wall Street Journal, Fox News, the Washington Post, CNN, Glenn Beck, and Ann Coulter.

This didn't escape the attention of the leftwing shills at Media Matters for America who began publishing -- and, of course, disseminating -- defamatory articles about McCaughey and all those having the nerve to quote her here, here, here, and here.

Yes, four defamatory pieces about McCaughey in three days. I guess this is what America can count on from this George Soros-funded propaganda machine anytime anyone has the nerve to criticize an Obama-supported bill.

Oh joy!

As such, it certainly wasn't a surprise to see Olbermann jump on the McCaughey-bashing bandwagon Thursday given his affinity for spreading MMA's vitriol:

KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST: If you watched the wrong program on cable news network or just about any program on fixed news this week, you might have heard that the stimulus bill contained a secret provision, creating a new government bureaucracy empowered to overrule your doctor‘s decisions about your health.

Our fourth story tonight: A health report-the anatomy of a smear. On Monday, "Bloomberg News" ran a commentary by former New York Lieutenant Governor Betsy McCaughey, among her claims-the bill would create, quote, "one new bureaucracy," the national coordinator of health information technology, to reduce costs and, quote, "guide," unquote, your doctor‘s decisions.

A national coordinator of health information technology secretly slipped into the stimulus bill. Scary! Scary enough for red type at the Drudge Report. The government is telling your doctor what to do. Scary! Scary enough for comedian Rush Limbaugh to flog it on his radio show.

With Rush and especially, Drudge, transmitting the fear virus, CNN and fixed news quickly succumbed.


BETSY MCCAUGHEY, FMR. LT. GOV. OF NEW YORK: But the bill goes much further on page 442. It explicitly says that the government will be delivering information to your doctor at bedside, quote, "to guide decisions at the time and place of care"-at the time and place of care. So, in fact, this is going be a two-way system. Your medical treatments will be stored in the medical database but the government will also be communicating with your doctor at the time and place of care.


OLBERMANN: There is a reason she is no longer lieutenant governor of New York. First, the information was not, quote, "to guide decisions." It was, quote, "to help guide medical decisions." And information is not provided at bedside but made available so that your doctor will have it whenever he or she has to make decisions.

Here is the full relevant passage, not the cherry-picked one from the former lieutenant governor. The health coordinator‘s office, quote, "provides appropriate information to help guide medical decisions at the time and place of care." To CNN‘s credit, its medical correspondent challenged McCaughey‘s claim but the network itself still dignified debate over it as controversy. Lou Dobbs didn‘t even go that far.

On the new national coordinator of health information, meet David Brailer, hired in 2004 by President Bush as the national coordinator of health information.

But if the anatomy of this smear reveals the tendons of Rush and Drudge, maybe more the guts, connecting blatant lies about stuff anybody could check out online, to a circus on FOX and even a, quote, "controversy" on CNN-what about the evolution of the sneer?

Betsy McCaughey is an adjunct senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, a think tank funded by-wait for it-drug companies, drugstore chains and biomedical suppliers whose former trustee once ran the same health insurance group whose "Harry and Louise" ad helped to torpedo health care in the ‘90s. McCaughey herself wrote to pharmaceutical trade group, PhRMA, quote, "Asking PhRMA to support my work at the Hudson Institute because my writings on healthcare policy can make a substantial difference in public opinion and in the nation‘s capital."

Olbermann then brought on Lawrence O'Donnell to join in the bashing.

Oh joy!

Marvelously, McCaughey isn't taking any of this sitting down, and responded with Friday's challenge:

If Keith Olbermann of MSNBC could defend the health provisions slipped into the stimulus bill on their merits, he wouldn't be resorting to personal attacks on me. Olbermann calls me a shill funded by the drug industry (2-12-2009). That's not true.

I am not paid by the pharmaceutical industry or by the Hudson Institute. I hold only an honorary Fellows position at Hudson, and take no money or benefits from it. If Keith Olbermann has the courage, I invite him to debate me on his program.

The Obama administration promised transparency, but gave us a sleight of hand. Slipped into the stimulus bill are provisions that change healthcare in major ways. If these provisions are so good for us, why are they hidden in a stimulus bill and rushed through Congress?

Transparency is not a partisan issue. Good people may differ on their health care views. But who can argue with the fact that the health provisions in the stimulus bill should be removed and offered as separate legislation, so that the nation can consider the long term consequences and make an informed decision?

Mr. Olbermann, do you have the backbone (and the facts) to debate me?

Will Olbermann accept?

Stay tuned.

P.S. Here's McCaughey's curriculum vitae. Good luck, Keith.