- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 4, 2009

Canadacare stump

The leader of Canada’s New Democrat Party, Jack Layton, linked the future of his country’s universal health care system to President Obama’s proposed health reforms in a Washington speech Wednesday.

Many conservative groups have pointed to Canada’s health care system as a reason to keep the American system in the private sector.

Americans for Prosperity, for example, launched an ad campaign last week featuring a Canadian woman named Shona Holmes who was diagnosed with brain cancer and says in the ad the only way she survived was by seeking treatment in the United States.

Mr. Layton accused groups like this of “sowing the seeds of fear with myths and lies about Canadian health care” and said the futures of the two health care programs are dependent on each other in an address delivered at the Woodrow Wilson Center.

“There is no doubt that strengthening of our system in Canada will be easier with public health care in the United States,” Mr. Layton said. “Just as Canada built a strong public health system through a united effort, and just as America must do the same, so too can we strengthen and reinforce the health of all of our citizens through partnership.”

When reached for comment Ms. Holmes quipped, “The only partnership we have is a place for desperate Canadians to run.”

Mr. Layton’s trip comes at the beginning of an aggressive effort to ramp up grassroots support for Mr. Obama’s health care plan by Organizing for America. While in Washington, Mr. Layton met with Democrats on Capitol Hill as well as White House Communications Director Anita Dunn.

Huffington honored

Liberal media maven and Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington has been selected for the Fred Dressier Lifetime Achievement Award from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.

“Arianna Huffington was ahead of the curve with HuffPo,” says Newhouse Dean Lorraine Branham. “She embraced the use of new media, but never forgot that no matter where or how you tell the story, content is still king. This is what we teach our students.”

Ms. Huffington’s Web site is frequently targeted by conservative commentators for its liberal slant. Media Research Center President Brent Bozell also criticized the award as premature.

“The Huffington Post has been a successful Web site for three years. That does not a lifetime of journalism make. If they want to recognize the success of the Huffington Post as a Web site that’s good - the Huffington Post is a successful Web site. That’s it. There’s no lifetime achievement. You might as well say that if you walk for three years you’ve got a lifetime achievement in track.”

Ms. Huffington has also come under fire from other outlets for underpaying her writers and lifting content without permission from the Chicago Reader, among other things.

Advertising Age’s “Media Guy” columnist Simon Dumenco blogged, “Really, the school - which exists to train journalists - should know better than to honor a woman who thinks journalists should work for free!”

Ratings game

A reality show indicates what we care about: other people’s familial woes over politics.

More people opted to watch Jon and Kate Gosselin sort out their troubled marriage while managing eight children than watch NBC’s White House special with Brian Williams and President Obama.

Part one of Mr. Williams’ behind-the-scenes look at the White House brought in 9.12 million viewers Tuesday evening, compared to the 9.9 million viewers “Jon & Kate” drew in their May 25 season opener.

Mr. Williams offered viewers what was billed as a never-before-seen look at the White House and access to Mr. Obama. The two of them even grabbed burgers together at Five Guys while the cameras rolled.

People tuned into watch “Jon & Kate” for much less heartwarming reasons.

In the run-up to this fifth season’s premiere of “Jon & Kate Plus 8,” tabloid magazines accused Mr. Gosselin of cheating on his wife during a night of drinking without her. He denies the charge, but the speculation about the strength of their marriage has run rampant among viewers and it remains to be seen whether their marriage will survive the stresses of raising a pair of twins and sextuplets on national television.

• Amanda Carpenter can be reached at acarpenter@washington times.com.

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