Awwww. Don Berwick is unhappy. In a speech at the annual conference of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement excerpted at the Boston Globe's White Coat Notes blog, the man whom Congress would not confirm as Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) administrator seventeen months after President Obama gave him a recess appointment lashed out at his critics, especially their use of the terms "rationing" and "death panels," describing the employment of the latter term as "beyond cruelty."
Neither Chelsea Conaboy's introduction at the Globe excerpt nor Sam Baker's coverage at the Hill's Healthwatch blog brought up why the two terms Berwick despises so accurately describe his health care views, which include his belief that the Affordable Care Act passed by Congress and signed by President Obama last year -- the one where, as Nancy Pelosi warned, we're still figuring out what's really in it -- is, as he told Boston station WBUR, "majestic." What follows is most of Conaboy's intro, which almost completely ignored the overheated rhetoric in the speech excerpts which followed:
NBC's chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd, in an interview with the President that was aired on Friday's Today show, actually questioned Barack Obama about his controversial recess appointment of the pro-health care rationing Dr. Donald Berwick to head Medicare, something, as Newsbusters has documented the networks have vastly ignored. However, Todd never explained to viewers why the President's opponents were upset by the appointment, and instead gave him an excuse to say the move was just his way of getting around a failed political system as he asked the following:
Do you think Washington is broken? And the reason I ask you this, because when you appointed - you did the recess appointment of Donald Berwick. You seemed to send the message of one of two things. Either you didn't want to debate about health care again on Capitol Hill, which got a little raucous a year ago or you know what? "The Senate process is broken and we gotta go around it?" [audio available here]
When the President responded that he couldn't afford to "Play political games with the Senate," something he himself did by using the recess appointment, Todd didn't call him on it, choosing instead to ask, once again, if Washington was "broken?" Todd also could've highlighted the President's personal hypocrisy on this issue -- a point even the liberal Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus caught -- as in 2005, when George W. Bush recess appointed John Bolton to UN ambassador, a then Senator Obama claimed: "To some degree, he's damaged goods."
The following is the full interview as it was aired on the July 16 Today show:
NBC's Nightly News with Brian Williams on Thursday became the first evening news broadcast to cover the recess appointment of Donald Berwick to run Medicare. Anchor Brian Williams asserted that "Republicans are angry, claiming it's antagonistic."
He also observed, "Berwick has spoken about the need to ration medical care to control costs."
NBC has offered the most reporting on Berwick: 20 seconds during the Today show on Wednesday and 35 seconds on Nightly News. Those 55 seconds are still more than ABC and CBS's morning and evening news programs. Their total remains at zero.
President Obama’s recess appointment of Dr. Donald Berwick – a controversial advocate of socialized medicine and of government rationing of health care, particularly for the elderly – as head of the Medicare and Medicaid programs has so far received no attention on ABC’s World News or on the CBS Evening News, while the NBC Nightly News on Thursday devoted just 38 seconds to the President’s controversial move that circumvents a possibly bruising Senate confirmation hearing, barely touching on the nature of Berwick’s beliefs and their possible implications for the elderly. Broadcast network morning newscasts have similarly shown little to no interest in the subject. CNN’s The Situation Room devoted a full story to the appointment on Wednesday, but did little better than NBC in informing viewers of the significance of Berwick’s beliefs.
By contrast, FNC’s Special Report with Bret Baier on Wednesday relayed to viewers that Berwick has not only advocated the type of socialized medicine that currently limits access to health care in Britain – favoring a non-free market system based on wealth redistribution – but he has also spoken in favor of government limiting access to some health care procedures for the elderly in favor of younger patients.
FNC correspondent Jim Angle filled in viewers on how the elderly would be treated under a system Berwick might advocate:
The GOP as the party of obstructionism: it's a tried and true media meme, but very often falls a tad short of the truth. Yet on occasion, even stubborn facts are not enough to dispel such accusations.
Some in the media have taken President Obama's recess appointment of Donald Berwick to the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services as an occasion to bash purportedly obstructionist congressional Republicans. Just one problem: the GOP didn't hold up the nomination.
In fact, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, which would have had jurisdiction over Berwick's appointment, said he "requested that a hearing take place two weeks ago, before this recess." Presumably, Grassley wanted to shine light on some of Berwick's more controversial positions, such as support for the rationing of care and his advocacy of the use of the health care system to redistribute wealth.
Over the span of two days, the network morning shows have given just 20 seconds of coverage to the recess appointment of Donald Berwick, a pro-rationing doctor who will run Medicare.
In contrast, Good Morning America, Today and Early Show devoted 52 minutes of coverage to every detail of Lindsay Lohan's sentencing.
On Wednesday and Thursday's GMA, ABC hosts discussed Lohan for 14 minutes. CBS's Early Show managed 12 minutes to the important topic. Both programs had no mention of Berwick, who once told an audience in Great Britain, "Please, don't put your faith in market forces."
Last night the White House announced a recess appointment for a man who's gone on record praising Britain's one-size-fits-all single-payer National Health Service to head up the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Covering the development, Time magazine's Adam Sorensen cast the appointment of Dr. Donald Berwick (pictured at right) as a blow to "hyperbolic" Republicans who hoped to make political hay out of the Harvard professor's confirmation hearings, yet Sorensen failed to carry any criticism of the Obama administration for the "unusual" maneuver or to examine how the move might bode poorly for Democrats given the public's concerns over the impact of ObamaCare on the health-care system.
Here's the item in full from Sorensen's July 7 "Morning Must Reads" digest on Time.com's Swampland blog (emphases mine):
"Any health care funding plan that is just, equitable, civilized and humane must, must redistribute wealth from the richer among us to the poorer and the less fortunate. Excellent health care is by definition redistributional. Britain, you chose well."
Was that a British socialist speaking in Parliament? Nope. It was Dr. Donald Berwick, a Harvard professor about to face Senate confirmation as President Obama's nominee to head Medicare and Medicaid.
Dr. Berwick has spent the last few years gushing over the awesomeness of the UK's government healthcare, including the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) which has become little more than a rationing panel for British patients.
This apparently made him a perfect fit for President Obama's healthcare agenda. With Medicare set to lose hundreds of billions in funding, someone with a knack for "cost control" needs to take the lead - and who better than a Harvard radical obsessed with Britain's socialized medicine program?
Just don't call him a radical. On Thursday, Time Magazine's Kate Pickert wrote a piece headlined "'Rationing' Is Back!" as a snarky rebuttal to Berwick's Republican critics. The fireworks took off in the very first paragraph: