Conservative Media Confused by Obama Doctor Story

After the conservative site Forbes.com published a story headlined “Obama’s Doctor Knocks ObamaCare,” it was quickly picked up by the right-wing Drudge Report, where, presumably because of its conservative pedigree, right-wing commentators ran with it as if it were a point scored by the right against the White House.

Some conservative blogs suggested that the story showed that Obamaâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s own doctor opposed “socialized” healthcare, (e.g., here and here).

On the popular right-wing site National Review Online (NRO), blogger Mark Hemingway joined in, posting three paragraphs of the Forbes report, followed by the triumphant, one-word commentary: “Ouch.”

Had Hemingway and his conservative colleagues failed to actually read the brief story before commenting on it? It’s possible, because any minimally careful reading would reveal that Dr. David Scheiner was criticizing “ObamaCare” from the left:

What should the president be focused on? Scheiner thinks that a good health reform would be “Medicare for all,” a single-payer system where the government would cover everyone and pay for it by cutting out waste in the system. “A neurosurgeon gets paid $20,000 for cutting into the neck of my patient. Have him get paid $1 million a year instead of $2 million or $3 million. He won’t starve,” Scheiner says.

It’s not at all clear that NRO‘s Hemingway realized this at first, because after publishing the item omitting mention that Dr. Scheiner supported “Medicare for all,” he revisited the story, writing:

Update: I didn’t intend to present this as one-sided, I quickly cut and pasted the first three grafs. Suffice to say, you should keep in mind the Hyde Park doc is criticizing ObamaCare from the left. Either way, that people close to the president feel free to express these kinds of opinions doesn’t seem to bode well for healthcare reform politically.

Beyond Hemingway’s odd suggestion that it’s a bad thing for a president to know people who openly disagree with him, it seems somewhat unlikely that he, as an NRO blogger, would have approvingly quoted a single-payer advocate’s criticism of the president–that is, if he knew the critic was a single-payer supporter.

We’ve all heard of stories that were too good to check out–for some on the right, this one may have been too good to even read.

About Steve Rendall

Senior Media Analyst and Co-producer of CounterSpin Steve Rendall is FAIR's senior analyst. He is co-host of CounterSpin, FAIR's national radio show. His work has received awards from Project Censored, and has won the praise of noted journalists such as Les Payne, Molly Ivins and Garry Wills. He is co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error (The New Press, 1995, New York City). Rendall has appeared on dozens of national television and radio shows, including appearances on CNN, C-SPAN, CNBC, MTV and Fox Morning News. He was the subject of a profile in the New York Times (5/19/96), and has been quoted on issues of media and politics in publications such as the Chicago Tribune, Washington Post and New York Times. Rendall contributed stories to the International Herald Tribune from France, Spain and North Africa; worked as a freelance writer in San Francisco; and worked as an archivist collecting historical material on the Spanish Civil War and the volunteers who fought in it. Rendall studied philosophy and chemistry at San Francisco State University, the College of Notre Dame and UC Berkeley.