- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 4, 2013

While Sarah Palin quietly continued her national tour to promote her new book “Good Tidings, Great Joy,” MSNBC host Martin Bashir quietly resigned from the network Wednesday, three weeks after broadcasting blatant slurs against the former Alaska governor.

“I have tendered my resignation. It is my sincere hope that all of my colleagues, at this special network, will be allowed to focus on the issues that matter without the distraction of myself or my ill-judged comments,” Mr. Bashir said in a statement. “I deeply regret what was said, will endeavor to work hard at making constructive contributions in the future and will always have a deep appreciation for our viewers.”

But wait. Did the major broadcast networks cover any of the controversy following Mr. Bashir’s comments? CBS, ABC and NBC itself did not offer a single story, according to Newsbusters analyst Geoffrey Dickens, who monitored coverage following the Nov. 15 broadcast. He notes that after Rush Limbaugh made a crude joke about pro-choice activist Sandra Fluke last year, the same networks went “ballistic,” offering 32 stories on the matter.

“The hypocrisy from the supposed civility cops in the liberal media is stunning,” Mr. Dickens observes.

“The question is this: Which vile character assassin will NBC/Comcast recruit to replace Martin Bashir? MSNBC is an absolute laughingstock. If you’re not apologizing for your insults — Ed Schultz — you’re resigning because of them — Martin Bashir. And if you’re not smart enough to resign, they have to fire you — Alec Baldwin,” declares Brent Bozell, director of the Media Research Center, parent company to Newsbusters. “NBC is the network where civility goes to die. And Comcast: You own that indecency.”

And what about Mrs. Palin, whose book defends the faith-based values of Christmas? Though she previously called Mr. Bashir’s comments “vile” and vowed to “move forward,” she did not immediately react to his statement and employment status, instead staying on message during an appearance at Liberty University on Wednesday.

“This young university is educating a whole new generation of American leaders who understand the positive effect our Christian heritage has had not only in our personal lives, but also in the life of our nation,” she told the assembled students.

DEMOCRATS TAKE A HOLIDAY OFFENSE

Here’s a micro-niche in the Christmas wars, meanwhile.

“The official organization charged with electing Republicans to the House — the national Republican Party! — thinks that telling people ‘Happy Holidays’ is something that only liberals do. They’re even selling coffee mugs and T-shirts with that claim and using the proceeds to elect more Republicans. It isn’t just divisive. It’s offensive,” says Mo Elleithee, communications director for the Democratic National Committee, in an open letter to all Democrats.

“As Democrats (and Americans) we want everyone to enjoy whatever holiday it is that they’re celebrating this time of year. And that goes for our Republican friends, too. So in the spirit of the season, we thought we’d make it easy for everyone to share a holiday greeting with the GOP,” Mr. Elleithee continues.

And he offers this suggested text: “Happy holidays, Happy New Year, Happy Chanukah, Feliz Navidad, Happy Festivus, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa.”

Well, he forgot the Winter Solstice, but no matter.

“While we’re getting in the holiday spirit, don’t miss your chance to join us at our annual holiday party,” Mr. Elleithee adds in his message. “Chip in $10 or whatever you can to be automatically entered, and if you win, we’ll fly you and a guest to D.C. to celebrate all of this season’s holidays with us.”

HERE COMES THE REPUBLICAN FOIA

Determined to reveal the inner ills of Obamacare, the Republican National Committee has joined the feisty coterie of those filing a Freedom of Information Act request with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which overseas the implementation of the health care law. The committee is requesting all correspondence and documents addressing the now infamous failure of operational systems for the federal Obamacare sign-up website.

“Democrats are spending this week telling people how great they think Obamacare is, but they can’t even get a website to function correctly. In addition to 404-errors, we now have 834-errors. But the truth is the entire law — not just the website — is riddled with errors and needs to be repealed and replaced,” says Chairman Reince Priebus.

SMOKERS AND HEARTY EATERS Vs. OBAMACARE

Smokers and overweight folks could be next on the list of those who are disenchanted with Obamacare, which “will dramatically expand the ability of companies to penalize employees for lifestyle issues, including being overweight or smoking, in the name of ‘wellness incentives,’” predicts Healthy Wage, a New York-based company that designs voluntary weight-loss programs for corporations, school systems, hospitals and other large-scale settings.

The Obamacare program, they say, is not voluntary. All employees are forced to lose weight or be penalized, citing an increased monthly health insurance premium for employees with a body mass index above 30.

“Wellness incentives are powerful behavior-change tools,” says co-founder David Roddenberry. “There is no published academic research to show that the government’s penalization programs lead to weight loss, but there is ample evidence that these programs are inequitable cost-shifting tools, disproportionately burdening those least able to afford health care.”

Yes, there’s a study. A Rand Corp. report mandated by the Affordable Care Act reviewed wellness incentive programs, The conclusion: any change in health due to wellness incentives “is small and unlikely to be clinically meaningful,” the study said.

“Obamacare incentives are discriminatory and regressive as obesity rates are highest among minorities and lower paid employees,” says Mr. Roddenberry. “An effective wellness incentive program is one that’s voluntary and grounded in the best practices literature around behavior change.”

LOOKING TOWARD 2017

“At least I know what I want to do when I retire: host ESPN SportsCenter’s Top 10 list.”

President Obama to Robert Iger, CEO of the Walt Disney Co., which owns ESPN, during a private meeting with Hollywood executives on Nov. 26.

“Obama revealed what’s at the top of his bucket list post-White House,” says Hollywood Reporter correspondent Pamela McClintock, who reported this little noticed aside.

POLL DU JOUR

57 percent of young Americans ages 18 to 29 disapprove of Obamacare.

51 percent say the cost of health care will increase under Obamacare.

47 percent do not plan to enroll; 40 percent say care will be “worse” under Obamacare.

54 percent disapprove of President Obama’s overall job performance.

53 percent would “recall and replace” all members of Congress if they could.

47 percent would recall and replace Mr. Obama.

45 percent would recall and replace their own member of Congress.

41 percent report they are political independents, 33 percent are Democrats, 24 percent are Republicans.

37 percent report they are conservative, 33 are liberal, 26 percent are moderate.

Source: A Harvard University Institute of Politics poll of 2,089 U.S. adults 18 to 29 years old conducted Oct. 30 to Nov. 11 and released Wednesday.

Squawks and murmurs to jharperwashingtontimes.com.

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