Earlier today, I noted that lousy media coverage of health care reform has played a significant role in the public's confusion about the issue. Like clockwork, MSNBC's Contessa Brewer just demonstrated how that works in an interview with Republican Senator Judd Gregg, in which Gregg offered up a barrage of misleading claims and outright falsehoods -- none of which were directly challenged by Brewer.
Gregg began by claiming "I think most people understand that a government-forced insurance plan, or government takeover of insurance is basically going to be bad for them because it's going to put a bureaucrat between them and their doctor. People want to be able to choose their doctor, they want to be able to choose their health plan, they don't want to have government running health care."
Now, basically none of that is true.
The public option is not a "government-forced insurance plan" -- it's optional. It's right there in the name: "The public option."
It's not "government takeover of insurance" -- private insurance companies will still exist, and most people will still use them.
People will be able to choose their doctor, to choose their health plan. Government won't be running health insurance, much less "running health care."
But Brewer didn't call Gregg on any of that. Nor did she ask Gregg to explain why it's worse to have a government "bureaucrat" between you and your doctor than to have a profit-driven insurance company bureaucrat between you and your doctor.
In his next comment, Gregg claimed his opposition to a public option "isn't about protecting insurance companies, it's about giving individuals the capacity to make choices, and choose the doctors they want, choose the health care systems they want."
Brewer didn't call Gregg on the seeming inconsistency of saying he's trying to give people the ability to choose the health care system they want by refusing to give them the ability to choose a public health insurance option.
Instead, Brewer asked Gregg a nice, friendly softball: "If people are frustrated with what they are hearing right now in terms of this legislation, what can they do?"
In response to that, Gregg implied that the Reid bill will not be scored by CBO before it comes to the floor. In fact, it's being scored by CBO right now. Brewer, of course, didn't mention that -- nor did she mention that previous versions of the public option scored by CBO have been cost-effective.
Gregg went on to again characterize public option as "a national--takeover of the system by the government ... putting the government between you and your doctor." No pushback from Brewer.
Then Gregg claimed Canada proves a public option will reduce the quality of care. No pushback from Brewer; no mention of the efficacy of public health care systems in other nations.
Then Gregg suggested the government cannot possibly "get health care right" -- to which Brewer seemed to agree, rather than asking Gregg if he thinks the government should get out of the business of Medicare and providing veterans health care, too.
Finally, Gregg insisted a public option would add to the deficit. To that, Brewer responded "I hear your skepticism." She did not point out that CBO scoring of other versions of health care reform including a public option find that this is not true.