Watchdog Blog

Morton Mintz: Add a Little Snip to the Catnip

Posted at 3:19 pm, September 21st, 2009
Morton Mintz Mug

During President Obama’s five back-to-back Sunday television interviews, “No one…asked an unexpected question,” Alessandra Stanley wrote in the New York Times. That was a powerful and warranted indictment of the ascendant non-journalism masquerading as journalism.

The interviews, on CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS and Univision, were “as tightly choreographed – and eerily similar – as the multiple Magritte bowler-hatted men milling in the remake of ‘The Thomas Crown Affair’,” Stanley wrote. “The president’s talk show grand slam…was a remarkable – and remarkably overt – display of media management….Mostly…Mr. Obama demonstrated that the news media are catnip to presidents.”

The media would have been less catnippy had just one of the interviewers decided to be catsnippy enough to be less managed, i.e., to seize a golden opportunity to ask fundamental questions that should be but rarely if ever are asked of this or any past President. Just three examples:

• Mr. President, The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, defines a bribe as: “1. Something, such as money or a favor, offered to or given to a person in a position of trust to influence that person’s views or conduct.”

My question is, Do our campaign-finance and lobbying laws legalize bribery?

• Mr. President, a standard definition of criminal negligence is, “The failure to use reasonable care to avoid consequences that threaten or harm the safety of the public and that are the foreseeable outcome of acting in a particular manner.” Tens of thousands of Americans die every year from treatable diseases that were not treated because the victims could not afford treatment.

My question is, can our government be fairly accused of criminal neglect for failing to provide universal health care?

• As you know, Mr. President, the Veterans Administration negotiates prices for pharmaceuticals. But in enacting Medicare Part D during the previous administration, Congress prohibited Medicare from doing so.

My questions:
Can a refusal to negotiate prices be reconciled with basic free-enterprise principles?
What rationale or philosophy of government would authorize the VA but not Medicare to negotiate drug prices?
Will you seek repeal of the prohibition on the government negotiating drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries, or have you promised the drug industry not do do so?

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