Conservative media ignored health care bill -- then trumpeted its passage

This is why Trump loves 'Fox & Friends'
This is why Trump loves 'Fox & Friends'

While other cable news networks went live Thursday morning to a press conference held by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on the vote scheduled that afternoon on the Republican effort to repeal and replace Obamacare, Fox News was talking about heightened security ahead of President Trump's visit to New York City.

The top story at Breitbart News was an article critical of GOP-sponsored legislation that would "let states annually import 500,000 foreign blue-collar workers and white-collar professionals to replace Americans who have fallen out of the workforce and into drug addiction."

At the website of the Washington Times, a story about North Korea's missile testing got top billing. The Daily Caller's main feature on its home page was about concerns over White House adviser (and Trump son-in-law) Jared Kushner's ties to liberal financier George Soros.

It was a pattern. Though coverage shifted dramatically once the bill passed, with conservative outlets leading running stories trumpeting the victory, it was a quiet morning for health care coverage on the right.

At a time when most of the press was giving wall-to-wall coverage to Thursday's vote on the House GOP's health care bill, conservative-leaning media was downplaying the story, perhaps a reflection of the misgivings that many on the right -- including more than a few Republican lawmakers -- have about the legislation. In the case of at least one outlet, the bill was almost entirely ignored until it narrowly passed the House.

Related: This is why Trump loves 'Fox & Friends'

That is not to say that outlets on the right ignored the run-up to House vote completely. While its website often led with other stories, Fox News covered the vote extensively on-air, running reports from Capitol Hill throughout the morning and afternoon. On the network's morning show "Fox & Friends," a Trump favorite, co-host Steve Doocy expressed hope that the bill is "actually better" than the law it could replace.

"And ultimately, when it comes to politics, this is going to redeem Speaker Paul Ryan," Doocy said. "Plus, it's going to give President Trump his first big -- and it is big -- legislative win."

But unlike its primary competitors, CNN and MSNBC, Fox News did not air Pelosi's press conference, where she ripped the GOP's bill. Instead, Fox ran an "exclusive look" at the New York Police Department's security precautions for Trump's return to the city. The top story on Fox's website for much of the morning was about a pair of Russian bombers that flew near Alaska.

Ryan has struggled to round up enough votes within his own caucus for the bill, known as the American Health Care Act (or AHCA for short), which polls show is widely unpopular. The legislation has made Ryan persona non grata in certain corners of conservative media and has placed normally Trump-friendly outlets like Breitbart at odds with the White House.

For weeks this spring, Breitbart panned the legislation, which it referred to derisively as "Ryancare" or "Obamacare 2.0." In March, while opposition to the AHCA intensified on the right, the site even went out of its way to embarrass Ryan by publishing months-old audio of the speaker trashing Trump.

But on Thursday morning, Breitbart was largely fixated on immigration and the French election, with the health care vote getting only a single mention on the home page.

By Thursday afternoon, after the bill passed in the House, Breitbart finally gave it the full front-page treatment -- with a decidedly more enthusiastic tone: "Obamacare Smashed."


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