Last fall, as the Obama administration rolled out HealthCare.gov, NBC News produced a thorough manual instructing Americans on how to get covered. To most, the guide looked like legitimate news-you-can-use journalism.
Not to Fox News. On her daytime program, Fox News host Gretchen Carlson asked guest Donald Trump, “Everyone knows you have a hit show over on NBC, with ‘Celebrity Apprentice,’ but NBC right now is going to help launch Obamacare, actually telling people this week how to sign up for it, how to make it easier. Do you have any cognitive dissonance in your mind when you look at the part of the company that employs you and the fact that you just said that you believe that Obamacare will be Obama’s downfall?”
Hard to state a more explicit hostility to the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
As any devoted Fox News watcher will attest, that approach crowds the Fox News airwaves, in conformity with the misgivings of Fox News chief Roger Ailes toward the Obama administration’s signature domestic program. A Michigan community health provider has apparently had enough of the network’s drumbeat against the ACA. As Fox News & Commentary radio host Todd Starnes explained in a post on FoxNews.com, Kathy Sather, the head of Family Health Care, “directed staff” to block the network in its waiting rooms after a member of the board of directors complained about the anti-ACA coverage. Family Health Care has locations across five towns in Michigan. According to Starnes, the centers have facilitators on site to help with Obamacare enrollment.
In response to an inquiry from Starnes, Sather defended the no-Fox News decision, saying it was her job to “ensure a positive patient experience in the waiting room. … Simply put, several complaints have been brought to my attention asking that we not air the Fox News channel in our televised waiting areas. I responded by addressing the issue promptly, asking that the channel be blocked in response to those complaints.”
Repeated attempts by the Erik Wemple Blog to interview Sather and other Family Health Care officials proved futile. One official in a Family clinic did say that she’d heard about the channel controversy but didn’t have any issue at her sparsely trafficked location, where the TV is generally set to a local station. No Fox News-blocking there.
Health-care clinics may manage their television sets as they wish. And Fox News’s coverage of health-care reform is as compelling a reason as you’ll find to de-program the network from your remotes. That said, denying Fox News-loving patients their Fox News smacks of foolish and counterproductive heavy-handedness. Were the Erik Wemple Blog, for example, denied an opportunity to check out the fabulous afternoon roundtable show “The Five” at a Family Health Care location, we’d lodge a polite protest.