Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Death Panels, A Timeline.

Seethruit at DailyKos diagrams the "death panel" meme for us (with rather astounding precision), below. I wonder, where in all of this did we as a country lose the chance to discuss end of life care like adults?

It sure looked like a flash fire but it actually smoldered for nearly a year. In early '09, the Washington Times, George Neumayr, and Cal Thomas linked HCR to euthanasia while "Dr" Betsy McCaughey PhD, the same "expert" who helped torpedo ClintonCare) hoisted repeated bogus incendiaries about health rationing. But it wasn't until McCaughey hit on compulsory end-of-life counseling that she really got things going. Then, with a boost from Michelle Bachmann (R-MN)'s assertion that "Ezekiel Emanual" HCR would cut off health care for the disabled, Palin was primed for full ignition:


And the blast was AWESOME. The MSM couldn't get enough:

...the Washington Post mentioned the phrase 18 times, the New York Times 16 times, and network and cable news at least 154 times...

In just 2 weeks 86% of Americans to hear about 'Death Panels'. Overheated townhallers screamed and shouted and HCR was nearly collared for failure.

Brendan Nyhan (U of Mich political scientist) traces the "Death Panel" rollout from Betsy McCaughey's end-of-life counseling assertion, through rightwing bloviators (Hannity, Ingraham, Limbaugh), Michele Bachmann's boost, to Sarah Palin's FB explosion, and beyond. Dividing the timeline into Phases, I have also added the euthanasia prep work (see credit below) that preceded the explosion and assorted additional players(in italics):

11/23/08 Washington Times op-ed
1/27/09 George Neumayr American Spectator
2/9/09 Betsy McCaughey
2/11/09 Washington Times op-ed

2/18/09 Cal Thomas Commentary Washington Times
7/16/09 Betsy McCaughey Fred Thomspon Show
7/17/09 Betsy McCaughey New York Post op-ed
7/17/09 Sean Hannity Sean Hannity Show
7/17/09 Laura Ingraham Laura Ingraham Show
7/21/09 Rush Limbaugh Rush Limbaugh Show
7/23/09 Betsy McCaughey Wall Street Journel op-ed
7/23/09 Rep. Boehner (R-OH) Press release
7/27/09 Rep. Bachmann (R-MN) House of Representatives speech
7/27/09 Peter Johnson Jr. Fox News Channel
7/28/09 Rep. Foxx (R-NC) House of Representatives speech
7/29/09 Washington Times Editorial
8/7/09 Sarah Palin Facebook Posting
8/8/09 Ann Althouse
8/9/09 Michelle Malkin
8/10/09 Glenn Beck Glenn Beck Program
8/10/09 Rush Limbaugh Rush Limbaugh Show
8/12/09 Sen. Grassley (R-IA) Town hall in Winterset, IA
8/13/09 Rush Limbaugh Rush Limbaugh Show
8/14/09 Rep. Broun (R-GA) Amer. Conservative Union letter

Concurrently, by late July, a viral email with a link to Betsy McCaughey's euthanasia counseling pitch on the Fred Thompson Show had already been intercepted by So there it was - in just 4 weeks, a cabal of conservative elites, rightwing pundits, Fox News, GOPers, viral hoaxers, and MSM panderers had succeeded in reaching 86% of Americans with an utterly preposterous, and thoroughly reprehensible, claim. There's just one more thing. Wouldn't you like to take a look at Palin's incoming calls for early July? Luntz anyone?

Postscript: Frank Luntz asserted that Obama critics had "gone to far' with the 'death panels'. I believe this merits extending the timeline:

8/27/09 Frank Luntz Fox and Friends

Credit: Jim Rutenberg and Jackie Calmes' excellent NYT article provided citations for euthansia commentary in early '09.

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