Wednesday, September 2, 2009

NY Times Challenging Itself To Get Worse At Being A Newspaper

The New York Times today published another horrible piece on the health care debate. The article makes virtually no factual claims, and the few that it does make are demonstrably incorrect, or at best deliberately misleading. The headline is "Conservative Democrats Expect a Health Deal," but it's not at all clear to me why that's the headline, or even why the piece was written at all.

The first five paragraphs describe nothing but how difficult it is to be a conservative Democrat, but, even so, they really want to get something passed. What would that be? Would it lower costs and extend benefits? Would it provide insurance companies with an enormous bailout in the way of individual mandates without a public option? Who knows?! And in the eyes of the Times, apparently, who cares?!

This is how the writers describe the so-called "reform" that the boot-licking Blue Dogs and their even more repulsive Senate fuck-buddies are in favor of. The reform bill is described in the first five paragraphs in the following ways:

"..[Rep Sandlin could support] a health care package if it was reasonable and represented a consensus Democratic view."

“I want to support necessary change,” she said. “But I don’t want to support radical change.”

"...many of the lawmakers still believe approval of some form of health care plan is achievable..."

"I do believe something will get passed..."

Those are all quotes from or descriptions of conservative Democrats, hereafter referred to as "gimps." That's five paragraphs, and all we know is that--according to the gimps--they really really want to get something passed, just not anything radical. I could continue to cite more vagaries from the article, but there's no point, because the content of the reform that the gimps are in favor of is never articulated.

What compels a writer to write--or a paper to publish--a story so devoid of useful information? What does the reader walk away with, other than a vague assurance that the gimps are acting in good faith to pass reform. Does that reform resemble progressive movement forward in the slightest? Does it actually benefit the insurance companies, not the patients? You would have no idea from reading this article. (The answer to those last two question are "no" and "yes," respectively.)

One thing you would learn is that the public does not want this radical public option nonsense so just go HOME already Russ Feingold. This claim--that the public is not in favor of a public option--is, of course, a bald face lie. First the quote, then my refutation. From the Times' article:

"With Republicans essentially out of the health care picture for now, Blue Dog members from suburban and rural America said they could provide the ideological balance to the more urban members of the Democratic caucus, who are pushing for a sweeping plan of universal coverage that has drawn public criticism."[emphasis added.]

(There is a lot to be said about the first half of that quote, but for the purpose of this post I'm just going to focus on the last half.)

So here you have a story that never defines what it is that the gimps support--other than the assertion that many of them are against the public option--and then a completely unsupported claim that plans for universal coverage have "drawn public criticism." I mean, SOME people have criticized it, so, technically, the writers' statement is more misleading that completely wrong. But using their logic you could just as easily write, "the assassination of JFK has drawn public applause." Yeah, maybe by lunatics it did, but that's certainly not what "the public" in any important sense of the word was doing.

The public at large is not against universal coverage, despite what the Times' statement would lead a reader to believe. In fact, quite the opposite is true, as this poll from last week shows. The Denver Post reports:

"Nearly 8 in 10 Americans support a federal health insurance plan for those who can't afford or can't get private insurance, but only 37 percent define "public option" correctly, a new national poll found.

The majority of people polled — 86 percent — say insurance should be available to everyone regardless of health history."

Hahahahahah FUCK! WHY GOD! WHY MUST THIS BE SO GODDAMN MADDENING!?!?!?! It's just...so....goddamn....fucking.....shit....frustrating. Only 37% of people can define the public option correctly. Why is that? Maybe, just maybe it's because the paper of record spends its time writing vague, idiotic tripe instead of attempting to educate the populace on what the goddamn debate is about. So, people don't understand the public option, but they DO believe that health care should be universal, and available to the poor. So, the question is, WHY THE FUCK WON'T WE GET A PUBLIC OPTION?

The answer to this question, at least in part, is that when the media isn't actively distorting the debate, they are playing the role of lazy stenographer. Why scrutinize the claims made by elected officials when it's so much easier to simply write down what they say and call it a night?

For further reading, I'll pass along these two links. Taibbi has a post today also criticizing the media that I recommend looking at if you have a chance. Also, Ezra Klein has a thorough post about the ways in which the cost of the more liberal plan--which is deficit neutral--is being used to distract and scare people away from it.

Since I usually try to end on a joke, I'm going to switch it up here and end on a real downer. Dem. Sen. Blanche Lincoln is bailing on the public option, and it looks like more Senators might be doing the same.

1 comment:

Jim said...

This is so right on, down to the spluttering obscenities. As a former reporter for the NY Times, I've spent many a cocktail party rolling my eyes while my lefty friends flail at the paper and blame it for every last woe in the world. This post is not that. It's critical thinking and useful criticism. Nice.