The Century Foundation's Niko Karvounis has a must-read piece warning that the news media could "derail health care reform":
Policy can get pretty complicated; so the public will rely on the media to help it navigate the ins and outs of the issue.
Unfortunately, reporters aren't health care policy experts. In fact, they rarely ever talk about the issue. In a December report, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that, out of 3,513 health news stories in newspapers, on TV and radio, and online between January 2007 and June 2008, health care policy made up less than 1 percent of news stories and just 27.4 percent of health-focused stories.
history shows that when health care reform efforts are actually under way, the media ignore policy in favor of more sensational stories.
During President Bill Clinton's efforts at health care reform in the 1990s, for example, media reports disproportionately focused on politics rather than policy. In their 1998 book Politics, Power, and Policymaking: The Case of Health Care Reform in the 1990s, Missouri State University professors Mark Rushefsky and Kant Patel found that that in 1993 and 1994 -- the height of public debate over Clinton's plan -- the New York Times reported just 257 stories about policy considerations (proposed reforms and solutions, analyses of options) and a whopping 549 on politics (personalities, disagreement, partisanship). When the nation's health care system was at stake, spats received more coverage than substance.
The Hill reports this morning that in 1992 "Pennsylvania Gov. Bob Casey (D) was barred from speaking at the DNC because of his anti-abortion rights stance."
This is a common claim, but it's completely false.
There were no fewer than eight speakers at the 1992 convention who opposed abortion rights. Therefore, it cannot be the case that Casey was barred because of his stance on abortion.
That really shouldn't be difficult to understand, but those interested in additional details can find them here.
Here's the short version:
1) Casey wasn't "denied" a speaking spot; that suggests he was entitled to one. He wasn't; nobody is (save, I suppose, the nominees for president and vice president and the convention officers.)
2) There is scant evidence from contemporaneous reporting that anyone other than Bob Casey thought it would be a good idea for Bob Casey to speak at the convention.
3) Casey had not only refused to endorse Bill Clinton, he had actively suggested that the party should choose a different nominee at the convention.
4) It logically cannot be the case that Casey was denied a speaking slot because of his views on abortion, given that severals speakers shared his views.
5) Casey planned to use his convention speech -- the possiblity of which apparently existed only in his own fantasies -- for a single purpose: attacking the Democratic Party.
That's why Casey didn't speak at the 1992 convention: because nobody wanted him to, because he refused to endorse the party's nominee, and because he planned to devote his entire speech to attacking the Democratic party; the speech didn't include the words "Clinton" or "Gore" a single time.
Finally, those who insist on pointing to Casey's lack of a speaking role at the 1992 Democratic convention as evidence of the party's lack of inclusiveness are invited to produce an example of a Republican convention speaker who refused to endorse the nominee and spent his entire speach attacking the GOP's position on abortion without saying a single word in praise or support of the party's nominee.
They can't do it, because there is no such example.
Resuming his attacks on the poor, Bill Cunningham stated that "[w]e're about the only country in the world with fat poor people" and that "the poor community, so to speak ... have cell phones, they have pagers, they have telephones, they have cars, they have HDTV, and they have those things because they spend no money on food, because it's all given to them for nothing." He added: "Why would a grocery store open in the poor community when everyone gets fed free and they eat too much?"
Radio host Jim Quinn claimed that heterosexual opponents of Proposition 8 are "guilty straights" and suggested that "gays never wanted to get married until ... about five years ago." In fact, same-sex couples have brought court cases to overturn bans on same-sex marriage for decades.
Discussing the passage of a California ballot initiative to amend the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage, radio host Jim Quinn asserted: "[G]ay marriage doesn't produce anything that the state has an interest in. Gay sex produces AIDS, which the state doesn't have -- or should have an interest in. They should charge homosexuals more for their -- for their health insurance than they charge the rest of us."
Sean Hannity falsely asserted that Sen. Barack Obama promises "to nationalize our health care," and said his is a "false promise." In fact, Obama has not proposed, much less promised, to nationalize health care.
The Washington Post, The Washington Times, the Associated Press, and The Hill reported Sen. John McCain's claims that Sen. Barack Obama is "offering government-run health care" and "an energy plan guaranteed to work without drilling," without noting that both claims are false. Obama has not proposed "government-run health care" and Obama's energy plan calls domestic oil and natural gas production "critical to prevent global energy prices from climbing even higher."
The Boston Globe uncritically reported Sen. John McCain's false claim that Sen. Barack Obama proposes to "fine" small businesses that do not provide employee health insurance. While Obama has proposed requiring large businesses that do not provide employer-sponsored health coverage to pay a percentage of their payroll into a National Health Insurance Exchange to help Americans purchase private health insurance, small businesses would be exempt.
Tom Brokaw did not challenge Sen. John McCain's false claim that under Sen. Barack Obama's health care plan, "[S]mall-business people who have employees without health insurance, that he is going to fine them if they don't have, have the insurance policy that they want, that Senator Obama wants them to have." In fact, while Obama has proposed requiring large businesses that do not provide health coverage to pay a percentage of their payroll into a National Health Insurance Exchange, small businesses would be exempt.
Wolf Blitzer, against his better judgment, was quoting right-wing radio talker Hugh Hewitt at length during "The Situation Room" today about how McCain could still win the election if he stressed the topic of abortion during the final days of the campaign.
Blitzer asked GOP consultant Alex Castellanos, was Hugh Hewitt being realistic?
USA Today reported that under Sen. John McCain's health-care plan, "[a]bout 4.6 million more people would gain coverage by 2013, the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center say," but it did not point out that the TPC also reported that after 2013, "the number of uninsured would creep upward." According to the TPC analysis, by 2018, the number of people covered would be only 2 million more than would have been covered that year without McCain's plan.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Sen. John McCain's assertion that Sen. Barack Obama's health-care plan "will force them into a new huge government-run health care program" without also reporting that the claim is false.
On NBC's Nightly News, Savannah Guthrie falsely suggested that Sen. Barack Obama was talking about abortion when he said of his two daughters: "I don't want them punished with a baby." In fact, Obama was discussing sex education, not abortion, when he made his comment.
On MSNBC Live, Chris Jansing uncritically aired Gov. Sarah Palin's false claim that Sen. Barack Obama was talking about abortion when he said of his two daughters: "I don't want them punished with a baby." However, Jansing did not note that Obama was discussing sex education, not abortion, when he made his comment. Time's Mark Halperin also uncritically reported Palin's attack without pointing out it was false.