In an interview yesterday with Howard Kurtz of Fox News, Melissa Francis, host of “Money” on the Fox Business Network, repeated a set of previous claims that her former employer, CNBC, had censored her for being critical of Obamacare four years ago. “It was at the time that the president and his surrogates were out arguing for the passage of Obamacare and they kept saying again and again that it wasn’t going to cost a dime . . . I was asking repeatedly of our guests, ‘How is that possible?'”
In Francis’s telling, her skeptical approach to Obamacare drew interest from CNBC’s management. “After my show one day, I was called upstairs to our manager’s office and told that . . . my comments were inappropriate,” recalls Francis. She responded that she was examining the “dollars and cents” of the program. “I was told that I was, quote, ‘Disrespecting the office of the president’ by questioning the math of Obamacare.”
When Kurtz asked CNBC for a response, the network replied with a single word: “Laughable.” In a separate response, CNBC told the New York Post, “That’s laughable, but we take notice, because as the fastest-growing network in prime time, we’re always on the lookout for high quality comedy writers and actresses.”
Both of those responses are risible in their own right.
The shot at CNBC from Francis comes four years late for a reason. Last week brought the news that Jonathan Gruber, an MIT economist and key Obamacare adviser, had made videotaped remarks about how Obamacare passed because of the “stupidity” of the American voter and a lack of transparency about the bill’s mechanics. When Francis saw Gruber’s remarks, memories rush in. “I had to scream at the television when I saw the Gruber video because I thought I was a part of this,” she told Kurtz.
In her chat with Kurtz, Francis said that she’d told various folks about her tete-a-tete with CNBC management over Obamacare and that she’d even told Fox News chief Roger Ailes when she switched jobs. “The reason why I’m doing it now is watching the Gruber videos, I felt like I was in part complicit in the very coverup that he’s talking about because I tried to illuminate the math, exactly what he’s saying — that they had to hide the cost,” said Francis. “I specifically tried to illuminate the cost and was stopped from doing that. And I think the American public deserves to know that the reason why Jonathan Gruber and others like him are able to get away with this is because there are networks out there and management at CNBC who are complicit in this coverup in keeping people ignorant.”
But what about the voices at CNBC — like Rick Santelli — who voice opinions skeptical of the Obama administration? Francis explained that CNBC management told her such voices had well-recognized “roles” and “everybody knows that they’re out there representing a certain point of view,” she recalled.
Francis told Kurtz that she’d made more than one visit to the CNBC Obamacare woodshed, where she was told not only that she was being “disrespectful to the president” but also that she was being “too political.”