Thursday, October 29, 2009

On Public Option, MSM Gets It Wrong

Robert Parry

The American mainstream media is in another snit, having misjudged the prospects for the public option on health care almost as completely as big-time journalists bungled the reporting on the Iraq War and a host of other important stories during George W. Bush’s presidency.

Indeed, if you had listened to all the supposedly knowledgeable journalists covering the health-care debate on Capitol Hill, you might have been shocked to learn Monday that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was putting a version of the public option in the bill that he is bringing to the Senate floor.

So, when the MSM's smug certainty went up in smoke on Monday, as Reid announced that he would include a version of the public option with an opt-out provision for states when he takes the legislation to the full Senate, the journalists were in a foul mood.

A new consensus quickly formed that it wasn’t that their reporting had been lousy, or that the public option made a lot of sense, or that the people’s will was finally being respected. It was that Reid had betrayed them by caving in to the left-wing base of the Democratic Party.

Reid’s announcement, declared the Washington Post’s snide columnist Dana Milbank, “was an admission of the formidable power of liberal interest groups. He had been the target of a petition drive and other forms of pressure to bring the public option to the floor.”

A petition drive, no less. Citizens signing a petition urging their elected representatives to take a position favored by a large majority of the American people. How nefarious!

Yeah, since when does the citizenry count for anything? I'm shocked, shocked I tell you!

As Reid’s news conference was ending, CNN’s Bash was still miffed. “How much of this is about making liberals happy?” she called out as Reid was leaving the podium.

You could read through all of George W. Bush’s press conferences to look for a similarly insulting remark from a mainstream journalist, demanding to know, for instance, whether Bush was invading Iraq to “make the neocons happy.” But you surely wouldn’t find it.

Over the past three decades, the Washington mainstream news media has increasingly tilted right either out of fear of career retribution from right-wing, anti-journalism attack groups or out of shared conservative and neocon ideology. Generally speaking, those journalists, who have played ball with the Right and the neocons, have done well, and those who went against the grain have lost jobs.

Washington's relatively small journalistic community remembers well the fates of honest journalists who produced stories that upset the Republicans and especially the Bush family.

Remember that The Bush Family, high in The Ruling Elite, considers everybody besides themselves to be 'the help', barely tolerated only insofar as they advance their agenda. Like cattle except they're not allowed to eat them after they get them killed.

For months now, the MSM has treated the public option as some loony left-wing idea, when actually the concept had a lot going for it, including the Congressional Budget Office’s conclusion that it was the only approach that achieved substantial savings. It also tested well in most opinion polls.

However, later in the column, Hiatt went after the public option because it may use “government power to demand lower prices from hospitals and drug companies” and thus “those providers may lower quality or seek to make up the difference from private payers,” leading to a situation where “we could end up with only the public option.”

Gee, he says that like it's a bad thing...oh, that's right, that's single payer aka 'socialism', i.e. 'no obscene profit off the sick whose money we can take with false promises and then fuck them out of', aka 'free market capitalism' and 'campaign contributions' that get legislation in favor of the Masters Of The Universe at the expense of the great unwashed. A civilized health care system is of no use to them at all and is therefore a 'bad thing' by definition..

The mainstream media’s opposition to the public option – as reflected in the reporting from CNN and other major networks as well as the Washington Post’s columns – is another reminder why honest Americans must do whatever they can to build a truly independent media that will resist pressure from the Right and other powerful vested interests.

The problem with an 'honest media' is that an awful lot of people would much rather believe sugar-coated spin than the bitter truth which has an adverse effect on ad revenues aka 'free market capitalism'. Lie to the fools, maybe they'll buy the shit. Tell them the truth, it'll make them uncomfortable and maybe they'll go buy someone else's shit.

It's much easier to con them into believing made-up 'conventional wisdom' which is neither conventional nor wise. If you wish to express an opinion, they will tell you what it is. That's the job of the corporate media.

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