Brent Bozell: Obama Lies About His Mother and the TV Networks Yawn

July 21, 2011 - 8:50 AM

On July 3, 1999, The New York Times exposed Al Gore for lying about his family in a national convention speech as vice president of the United States. In 1996, Gore had moved the Democrats to tears by claiming that when his sister Nancy died of cancer in 1984, he vowed then and there to oppose the tobacco industry. How courageous – and completely untrue.

The Times found Gore campaigned in 1988 boasting of his tobacco-farming prowess. So he lied through his teeth. Network coverage from ABC, CBS, or NBC on this whopper, even as Gore prepared a presidential run? Zero.

On July 13, 2011, this cycle repeated itself, when The New York Times reported on another national Democrat lying about a death in the family in his convention address, presidential debates, just about everywhere. That was Barack Obama in 2008 claiming his mother Ann Dunham died of cancer battling with insurance companies all the way through. Dramatic? Yes. But an utter lie. Network coverage of this new jaw-dropper on ABC, CBS, and NBC? Also zip, zilch, zero.

How pathetic. This is the same set of networks that devote multiple heavy-breathing stories to “correcting” non-candidate Sarah Palin’s historical knowledge of Paul Revere, or Michele Bachmann’s location for the birthplace of John Wayne. But Obama lies about his mother – a shameless, pandering tug using his mother to get socialized health care, and they’re mute!

In a story published on page 16, reporter Kevin Sack explained “The White House on Wednesday declined to challenge an account in a new book” that Obama “mischaracterized a central anecdote about his mother’s deathbed dispute with her insurance company.” The headline said the book “challenges” the Obama story, and in the story they used the word “mischaracterized.” It was a whole lot more than that. 

The new book, by Times reporter Janny Scott, is titled “A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mother.” Scott quoted from correspondence from Ann Dunham to assert that the 1995 dispute concerned a Cigna disability insurance policy. Her actual health insurer had reimbursed most of her medical expenses without argument. The Times noted that although candidate Obama often suggested that Dunham “was denied health coverage because of a pre-existing condition, it appears from her correspondence that she was only denied disability coverage.”

Obama lied to an entire stadium of supporters in his August 28, 2008 convention speech. "As someone who watched my mother argue with insurance companies while she lay in bed dying of cancer,” he announced, “I will make certain those companies stop discriminating against those who are sick and need care the most.”

The same line was declared in the October 7, 2008 presidential debate, carried by all the networks like the convention speech. "For my mother to die of cancer at the age of 53 and have to spend the last months of her life in a hospital room, arguing with insurance companies because they're saying that this may be a preexisting condition and they don't have to pay her treatment, there's something fundamentally wrong about that." (Afterward, the networks brought their outrage to the slight that John McCain had described Obama as “that one.” They put on focus-group liberals who found the remark “picky and childish.”)

Obama also mentioned her in a 2007 campaign TV ad: “In those last painful months, she was more worried about paying her medical bills than getting well. I hear stories like hers every day.”

The Times went to liberal Harvard professor Robert Blendon to pronounce the obvious: if Obama’s phony storyline had been discovered during the 2008 campaign “people would have considered it a significant error.” Or not an error – a lie. Blendon added: “I just took for granted that it was a pre-existing condition health insurance issue.”

So did the entire American news media.

There’s one last interesting tidbit in the Times. Obama’s mother wrote to Cigna after they declined her claims that she had turned the case over to “my son and attorney, Barack Obama.” Scott could not determine from the documents she viewed whether Obama had ever written to Cigna on his mother’s behalf. Isn’t it interesting in all of Obama’s rhetoric about his mother’s insurance battles, he always left himself out of the storyline? Did this lawyer son ever get involved?

In the Bush years, media liberals (and even Joe Scarborough) suggested George W. Bush was dangerously stupid because he was so “intellectually incurious.” Our media are so incurious about the truth behind Obama’s often-mythical life story, one might ask “Are they dangerously stupid?”