Right-Wing Media Use Clinton’s Heart Procedure to Stoke Fears about Health Care Reform

Washington, D.C.–(ENEWSPF)– Following former President Bill Clinton’s hospitalization to undergo a procedure on his heart, several conservative media figures used the incident to attack Democratic health care reform efforts. For example, Rush Limbaugh said he was "thankful we don’t yet have Obamacare," or "the death panel" might not have approved Clinton’s surgery.

Limbaugh, Malkin, Fox News’ Johnson use Clinton’s hospitalization to attack reform

Limbaugh is "thankful we don’t yet have Obamacare," or "the death panel" might not have approved Clinton’s surgery. On his radio show, Rush Limbaugh said he was sending out his "best wishes" to Clinton, then stated, "All of us need to be thankful we don’t yet have Obamacare. Otherwise, somebody on the death panel might have assumed that he’s old and retired and might not have been worth the expense." [Premiere Radio Networks’ The Rush Limbaugh Show, 2/12/10]

Johnson exploits Clinton’s heart surgery to stoke fears about health care rationing. On Fox News’ Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade asked, "So if the Democrats’ health care reform had gone through, would President Clinton have received the stents?" Fox News legal analyst Peter Johnson Jr. replied that "best practices" for medical procedures could be determined by government "comparative effectiveness" studies. Johnson further stated, "If the new standard is, save money, best practices, does President Clinton — or you or I who needs it — get the stent under that new regimen of health care effectiveness?" [Fox & Friends, 2/12/10]

Malkin treated Clinton’s procedure as an excuse to trumpet October 2009 complaint by stent-maker about health care reform bill. In a blog post headlined "Bill Clinton, stents, and Demcare," Michelle Malkin reported that Clinton had undergone a procedure to place two stents in one of his coronary arteries. She included a link to an October 20, 2009, Reuters article that reported that Boston Scientific Corp, a stent manufacturer, "warned on Tuesday that a proposed tax in the U.S. health care reform bill that cleared the Senate Finance Committee last week could have serious consequences for the company, including job losses." Malkin concluded her blog post: "A teachable moment: Taxing innovation in the name of ‘health care reform’ has consequences." [, 2/12/10]

Conservative media previously used Kennedy’s death to attack health care reform

Limbaugh, Marr suggest that health care reform would deny care to elderly cancer patients like Kennedy. Previously, conservative media figures used Sen. Ted Kennedy’s death to attack health care reform, baselessly suggesting that if reform passes, elderly cancer patients — as Kennedy was at the time — would be "denied" treatments or that their treatments would be "rationed." Limbaugh stated that "it would be a tremendous disservice to come up with a health care bill we have now in the House and is floating around in the Senate, the one that Obama’s talking about, where the government is going to decide whether people like Ted Kennedy get to go through every aspect of survival that he did." Guest-hosting The Lou Dobbs Show, Tom Marr said that under a public option, a "bureaucrat" would have told Kennedy, "77, brain tumor, bye-bye."

Source: Media Matters for America