Koch Brothers Rally Got Free Pass By Des Moines Register

[Update: On Tuesday I was on The Fallon Forum to discuss America’s media problem and my letter to the Des Moines Register about this article. Click here to watch the video/podcast]

I grew up reading The Des Moines Register and still feel it is the newspaper Iowa depends on. On Friday, @RadioBradshaw tweeted this: “I used to complain about the AP content in the Register, but after seeing today’s stenography of a DSM Koch Brothers event, I’m rethinking.”  Here is the story he was referring to (which some say reads suspiciously like a press release) by their Chief Political Reporter, Jennifer Jacobs.


Consultant Bashes Healthcare Law Rally

Iowans need to mobilize to fight to repeal the federal health care law referred to as Obamacare, conservative political consultant Dick Morris told Iowans on Thursday night.

The provisions that take effect in 2014 are part of “a vicious, horrible system,” Morris said at a “Hands Off My Health Care!” rally organized by the grass-roots group Americans for Prosperity.

Morris, 64, said 100 million Americans receive welfare benefits, a third of the population.

That doesn’t include Social Security, Medicare, veterans benefits or the earned-income tax credit, he said, just welfare programs.

“So let’s be clear about what is driving this budget deficit,” he told the audience of about 100.

Morris said President Barack Obama uses Medicare “as a piggy bank to pay for Obamacare.” But instead of cutting benefits to Medicare users, Obama cut reimbursement rates to health care providers, he said.

“Well, good luck finding an oncologist on Medicare if you get cancer,” he said. “You might even find it difficult to find a general practitioner … because they have so little reimbursement for each patient that they simply can’t afford to give quality medical care.”

In 2014, “it’s going to be a vicious, horrible system,” Morris said. “Right now there is in Washington a computer that has all of your medical information. All of it.”

Bureaucrats will use this information to decide whether or not care should be given to people who are too old and don’t have enough quality-adjusted years remaining to merit lifesaving care, he said.

Morris said GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s plan calls for doing nothing until 2022. Romney would let retirees keep their current Medicare coverage, or they can choose a better deal, Morris said.

“The government will give you a check, a voucher, a premium support payment — whatever they call it,” he said.

“And you go out and spend that as you wish for health care, and if there’s money left over you don’t spend, you keep it and they won’t tax it.”

People will then be motivated to save money and avoid overpriced services, he said.

Teresa Oelke, regional vice president for Americans for Prosperity, urged the crowd to volunteer for the group’s phone banks.

“My kids at home, I have a 15-year-old, a 12-year-old and an 11-year-old, they’re all on freedom phones,” Oelke said. “In fact, my husband and I, we’ve talked, we’re directly tying Christmas gifts to the amount of minutes they spend on the freedom phones defending their country.”


To which I responded by writing this letter to the editor published Wednesday (most of it):

re: Jennifer Jacobs article on Des Moines Koch Brothers event  [“Consultant Bashes Health Care Law at Rally;
Morris says welfare programs are ‘driving this budget deficit’

Does the DMReg. no longer think it is necessary to provide context to a story?  Does the paper no longer feel obligated to provide balanced information in a story about a political group’s activities?  Does this reporter know who Dick Morris is other than “conservative political consultant”?  Does the Des Moines Register’s Chief Political Reporter know anything about Americans for Prosperity,  a Koch Brothers funded group? If so, did the paper see no reason to include that information in this story about their Des Moines rally, for the sake of transparency, so readers would know who is doing the “bashing”?  Did the paper see no reason to offer the other side or even to include some facts for information purposes,  fairness, balance, etc?

Can the paper give some examples of calls for volunteers or other action alerts that you have provided for progressive groups?  Or some examples where you’ve given publicity to progressive phone banking efforts?  Or when you’ve published a single positive story about progressives or Democrats without including space for the other side?

This article was a stream of inflammatory quotes and false allegations by people who make their living feeding the media conservative ideas, with no effort on the paper’s part to include comments from anyone who would disagree.

“Freedom phones”?  Seriously?
“If there’s money left over you don’t spend, you keep it and they won’t tax it.”  Like there’s going to be money left over?  Are you kidding?
“or they can choose a better deal, Morris said.”  haha, hilarious.

It would be funny If it weren’t for the fact that people will believe these ideas and point to this story in the Des Moines Register, the newspaper Iowa depends on,  as the basis for their belief.


The paper responded graciously, publishing my letter with just a few edits which I thought were reasonable.  And one of the editors sent me a personal reply saying in part:

“Unfortunately, from my perspective…. the short answer is: You’re right.  We try to take pains to include context and other perspectives in our political reporting. When Paul Ryan visited the fair last week, and during President Obama’s three days in Iowa, we conducted a lot of interviews with the other campaign or tracked down policy experts to offer opposing perspectives or rebut factually questionable statements. That is and should be standard operating procedure.  We should have been able to track down an opposing voice, and some basic background on Americans for Prosperity certainly would have been germane. Our editing safety net should have kicked into gear.  Thank you for reading the Register and for caring about the standards we work to uphold.”

Today I was a call-in guest on The Fallon Forum to discuss media.   The podcast should be available soon.

This is why we need media reform/Resources

Media As Misinformation

Romney’s Campaign Strategy: Lie, Lie, and Lie Some More –Can Democracy Survive with 0% Media Accountability?

National Media Reform ConferenceDenver, Colorado, April 5-7, 2013



This entry was posted in Media Reform and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.