Roger Ailes always tries to put Fox News Sunday on a silver platter whenever he’s interviewed. His slogan, ‘Fair and Balanced,’ he says, is epitomized by his Sunday talk show, and Chris Wallace is the man of true fairness. Well, I’m sorry to say it’s a fabrication of his mind; as the Brits say to Rupert Murdoch, ‘That’s a load of bollocks.’ A good example of this journalistic malfeasance took place this Sunday.
Wallace’s guests were Robert Gibbs and Ed Gillespie, both campaign advisers representing the two biggest political parties running for the presidency in the 2012 election. Chris has been known to ask tough questions to either side of the aisle, but these interviews showed how Wallace shaped the narrative of the advisers’ answers by the way he asked the questions. The elephant in the room for the Romney/Ryan ticket has been Rep. Paul Ryan's budget that was passed by the House. Ryan's BIG idea is to turn the Medicare system into a voucher program, which does not lower the costs of health care, but as the CBO has noted, raises the out-of-pocket costs for each person by an average of $6,400. Team Obama has pounced on the new VP candidate's economic voodoo by stating the obvious, while Team Romney in response has attacked Obama's cutbacks to Medicare providers that rise to the level of $716 billion, but do not raise premiums for our seniors.
Now comes the hackery. During Robert Gibbs' interview, Wallace repeatedly interrupted his answers, trying to paint Gibbs replies as non-responsive to his questions. When Gibbs explained what he meant, Wallace made it seem like his nose was growing. Then he threw in adjectives like 'unaccountable' and 'unelected officials', which makes it seem like they would be just like the sycophants George "Shrub" Bush hired to run the Justice Department -- including the infamous Monica Goodling.
WALLACE: OK. Let's talk about the $716 billion cut to Medicare, because it is -- if I may, let me ask the question -- under the Obama plan, Obamacare, there is a $716 cut.
In other words, according to the actuary, Medicare patients, millions of them, will lose access to Medicare benefits.
GIBBS: If Medicare companies that are involved in the program continue doing what they're doing -- which is inefficient. Let's take for instance --(CROSSTALK)
WALLACE: Wait a minute, the actuary says, in practice, Medicare providers could not sustain continuing negative margins.
GIBBS: If Medicare providers continue to do what they are doing. Right now, under the old program, Chris, if a senior got readmitted over and over and over to the hospital for the same illness, they got paid every single time, the senior got admitted into the hospital. Why not strengthen the benefit by adding preventive health care to it and trying to insure that this patient gets accountable care and treated before they get that disease?
WALLACE: And if the providers don't do it, then what happens is, under your plan, this unelected board, 15 bureaucrats, come in and they decide, what -- you are laughing at it, but that is it. The IPAB --
GIBBS: I guess I'm laughing at your characterization of it.
WALLACE: Are they not an unelected -- are they an elected board?
GIBBS: They are medical professionals. They are people that we trust to make medical decisions.
WALLACE: Are they elected by anybody? They are unaccountable, unelected board that comes and will make decisions on what the providers and the hospitals have to do, and Congress has to vote it all up or all down.
GIBBS: Yes. Well, look, we are trying to get efficiencies out of the Medicare program. We are trying to provide some much needed enhancements to the benefits that Medicare beneficiaries have. And most importantly, we're trying to sustain the hospital trust fund. Let's talk about this; Chris, if all of what you describe was so amazingly egregious, why in not one but two Paul Ryan budgets, does he never seek to roll back the so-called cost from the unelected bureaucrats that you discuss? Post that to Ed Gillespie.
WALLACE: We're going to talk to Ed Gillespie. Part of it is he has to accept current law and what's in the base line.
GIBBS: No, he does not. He has a budget proposal.
WALLACE: I get to ask the questions. If -- I mean, you're contention is take $716 billion out of Medicare, is a lot of the money, $716 billion, and it will have no impact on benefits.
GIBBS: We strengthen the Medicare beneficiary.
Wallace refused to move off the medicare actuary's complaints about the cuts and in so doing paints Gibbs as a liar. Then he tries to portray the outrage caused by Romney's refusal to release more than one year of tax returns as petty.
WALLACE: On Friday, Obama campaign manager Jim Messina offered the Romney campaign a deal, release five years of tax returns and we won't ask for anymore. Isn't that a distraction from the major issues of the economy and jobs and national debt, and foreign policy that the president says he wants this campaign to be about?
GIBBS: I think taxes are in any way a distraction from this campaign. I think they are very simple to this campaign.
WALLACE: And we're talking about Mitt Romney's personal tax returns. We're not talking about tax policy for all of Americans.
GIBBS: Oh, but we are talking about tax policy for all Americans.
WALLACE: You can have that argument without having his tax returns.
Did you see that one? Wallace sounded like Karl Rove right there. Romney obviously is hiding something or he would have released them long ago. I believe they feel that what is contained there would be damaging to their chances, but not to Wallace. And how does Wallace use the typical Villager technique of false equivalence?
WALLACE: If the president is so interested in transparency, as you indicate, why is it that he has not -- he's held one news conference at the White House this year and that was back in March, more than five months ago?
Huh? Did he really compare one of the biggest stories in this election season to holding a news conference for the press corp.?,It's so big that Bill Kristol thinks it's ludicrous that Romney is withholding them from the public. I won't even get into the 'Bid-chains-he's a drag on the ticket segment of the interview.
Now when Ed Gillespie joins him, Wallace uses the Medicare trustees to explain that Medicare won't be solvent after 2016 if they repeal Obamacare. He also uses CBO numbers as well against Fast Eddie. Notice how civil he is and watch him let Gillespie call the CBO a bunch of assumers after he attacked Obamacare using errrr...the CBO to do it, and Wallace ignored that completely.
WALLACE: What's Governor Romney going to do about that?
GILLESPIE: Well, he's going to reform Medicare. That estimate does not assume that there will be any other reforms and the Romney- Ryan plan is to save the Medicare plan for future generations by allowing for different options for people if you're, by the way, below the age of 55. There would be no change for anyone who's currently on Medicare, or 55 and above. And the reform that they would put in place would make Medicare, put it on a sustainable footing for as far as the eye can see. And that's the important distinction.
WALLACE: But the problem is, that those reforms don't kick in -- that's one of your selling points -- until 2023. It doesn't affect any seniors or anybody close to being a senior. But that doesn't solve the Medicare Part A problem which kicks in in 2016.So, what are you going to do to keep Part A solvent between 2016 after you repealed Obamacare in 2023?
GILLESPIE: Well, Chris, there are other reforms as well. As you know, Governor Romney supports increasing gradually increasing over time, bringing the Medicare eligibility age in line with the Social Security retirement age.Secondly, this Congressional Budget Office notes, the assumption --
WALLACE: -- by 2016? Because I thought that was also only --
GILLESPIE: It's phased in, but it would extend the solvency. The Congressional Budget Office says that assumptions about the Medicare trust fund Part A being solvent through 2024 under the Obamacare proposal is unrealistic, and that's a fact. What we do know is that the -- as we heard Robert Gibbs say, they are funding Obamacare by taking $716 billion out of Medicare now, current beneficiaries affected by it, and people who paid into that program for guaranteed health insurance are now seeing that money go to other purposes. And that's wrong.
WALLACE: The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says this -- let's put it up on the screen -- "Under the proposal, the gradually increasing number of Medicare beneficiaries participating in the new premium support program would bear a much larger share of their health care costs than they would under the traditional or existing program."According to one estimate, Ed, $6,400 in added cost because the premium supports are not going to cover all of their health care cost.
GILLESPIE: Yes, that $6,400 estimate I think it's like an assumption. It reminds me a little bit of Steve Martin's book "How to Become a Millionaire." First get $1 million. And, you know, this is an assumption of saying, well, we think that -- we assume that people are going to pay more.
WALLACE: But, again, the Congressional Budget Office -- nonpartisan, they are the score keeper in Capitol Hill -- says that under the premium support plan, that Medicare beneficiaries will bear a much larger share of their health care cost.
GILLESPIE: Yes. We reject that in our analysis, Chris, and don't believe that that is accurate.
WALLACE: What about the argument -- this is more of a campaign, political issue, that you hear from some Republicans now, that with all of this focus on the budget and Medicare, that your campaign is getting away from your best issue which is Obama, economy and jobs.
No interruptions, no bullying, no sneer underneath his breath. And I know what you were thinking when Gillespie rambled on about assumptions and ... I... refuse to use the Felix Unger 'ASSUME' routine:
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