Obamacare Media Fail: Did the President ‘Work the Refs’?

I am never going to learn not to love this. |||The press is filling up with examinations of media culpability in failing to predict that the Affordable Care Act would render outrageously inaccurate President Barack Obama's pivotal, oft-repeated promise that if you liked your pre-Obamacare health plan, you'll be able to keep it.

In the Columbia Journalism Review, former Spinsanity hand Brendan Nyhan writes on "The failure to factcheck 'You can keep it'":

[T]his outcome was anticipated by health policy experts both within and outside the administration. Unfortunately, most media coverage before this week did not explain how the process was likely to play out or hold the president accountable for making promises he could never keep.

After documenting instances of both prescient reporting and lax watchdoggery, Nyhan speculates as to the why:

One problem is the media's lack of interest in policy, particularly when assessing claims that are not definitively false (most coverage of the plan was published before it took effect). In this sense, Obama's messaging strategy echoes the Bush administration, which frequently exploited this blind spot by promoting misleading or half-true claims that were difficult to factcheck and uninteresting or complicated to explain to readers. [...]

Another possible explanation for the lack of scrutiny given to Obama's promises is that the press often takes its cues about the flaws in a policy from the opposition party, which is part of a pattern of indexing coverage to the range of debate among political elites. In this case, conservative politicians and pundits often emphasized baseless charges like "death panels" or made speculative claims about how it is intended to undermine employer-provided insurance.

This coverage failure underscores the need for a vocal and reality-based opposition.

In Politico's Monday-morning quarterbacking piece, there are competing theories. First up, Brendan Buck, press secretary for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio):

"People in the media rarely give us the benefit of the doubt, so we have to go to great lengths to prove what we're saying is accurate and fair," Buck said. "Now we have real-world, concrete examples that show what we're saying is true — that the president was misleading the public."

The president's recent score. ||| Washington PostWashington PostNext, Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler:

"Let's face it, the media, particularly in Washington, can only focus on one big thing at a time. The reason this is happening now is because people are actually starting to get the cancellation letters [...]

"The best media story is a story with a victim, and now you have people who can hold up the [cancellation] notices that say, 'You've lost your plan,'" he added. "Until now, it was very difficult to say definitively that the president was not correct, because that hadn't happened yet."

I suspect there are elements of truth to all of the above. But I’d like to propose another factor at play here: The Obama administration has been deliberately and skillfully “working the refs,” playing into the media’s natural suspicion of Republican misinformation and exploiting its regrets over Harry & Louise, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, and Elizabeth McCaughey. Let me explain....

Don't get him started on Springsteen.... |||In 2002, left-wing media grumpus Eric Alterman wrote a book entitled What Liberal Media? The Truth about BIAS and the News (the Bias in question being Bernard Goldberg's best-selling memoir about witnessing liberal media distortion up close at CBS News). I don't agree with Alterman about much, but one of his central critiques rang true: The savvier among conservatives had learned how to "work the refs"—badger the allegedly impartial arbiters of the Fourth Estate in such a way to produce rulings more favorable to the opposing team. Here's Alterman’s gotcha quote underlying the notion:  

Rich Bond, then chair of the Republican Party, complained during the 1992 election, "I think we know who the media want to win this election--and I don't think it's George Bush." The very same Rich Bond, however, also noted during the very same election, "There is some strategy to it [bashing the 'liberal' media].... If you watch any great coach, what they try to do is 'work the refs.' Maybe the ref will cut you a little slack on the next one."

There were two crucial preconditions for this tactic to work: A professional commitment to down-the-middle "fairness," in which news organizations strove to give "both sides" an equal hearing, and the "he said, she said" style of  political argumentation, which allegedly gave the bigger bloviators of the right a built-in advantage.

Again, there is much one could disagree with about Alterman's influential conclusions, but I would posit this fact as inarguable: Since his book was published, journalistic mores and practices have moved heavily away from the ideal of giving equal weight to both sides. Now, all the hot journalism-theory action, and a sizeable amount of practice, is about shredding "false equivalence," rejecting the "view from nowhere," and circumventing the spinmeisters by fact-checking political lies at their source.

Now here's the rub: Barack Obama and his handlers (including many top former journalists) know all this, speak that language, and use it to feed into journalists' pre-existing suspicion that conservatives have a uniquely nasty habit of telling untruths.

It really is that simple. ||| antinuclear.netantinuclear.netHere's a 2012 New York Times piece about Obama's views on journalism:

In private meetings with columnists, he has talked about the concept of "false balance" — that reporters should not give equal weight to both sides of an argument when one side is factually incorrect. He frequently cites the coverage of health care and the stimulus package as examples, according to aides familiar with the meetings.

Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, was previously Time magazine's Washington bureau chief. He said the president thought that some journalists were more comfortable blaming both parties, regardless of the facts. "To be saying 'they're both equally wrong' or 'they're both equally bad,'" Mr. Carney said, "then you look high-minded."

So, so very much. |||Such ref-working has its payoffs. In its special 2012 Democratic National Convention issue, Time magazine quoted the president as saying "the facts are on my side in this argument [about the economy]. The question is whether, while we're still digging ourselves out of this hole that we found ourselves in, the facts will win the day."

Did the venerable newsweekly take the bait? Hook, line, and sinker. Managing Editor Richard Stengel, in his editor's note, wrote that, "One theme running through this special Democratic Convention issue is that Obama has not been all that adept at telling his story as Commander in Chief....He likes to say that facts will win the day, but these days, people brandish their own facts. Obama is frustrated by this." One year later, Stengel took a job at Obama's State Department

One of the key reasons such mau-mauing works is that the media establishment feels no small measure of shame in how it has been played by conservatives during political fights since the end of the Cold War. Particularly when it comes to health insurance reform.

One of the half-dozen most influential media-criticism books in the last two decades was James Fallows's Breaking the News: How the Media Undermine Democracy, from 1996. In it, there's a 29-page section on coverage of the ultimately failed Hillarycare initative, titled "The Press's Vietnam War: The Health Care Debate." Fallows took issue with journalists' horse-race-style coverage, their "fear-mongering," and their reliance on leaks. But the two lasting stings from his critique had to do with press incompetence and impotence in the face of Republican "misinformation." 

Went with the plural. Bold. |||The first was the famous "Harry & Louise" ad campaign, paid for by the Health Insurance Association of America, warning that a new government health care plan could drastically reduce consumer choice. (Peter Suderman yesterday described this campaign as leaving Democrats "with a big psychological scar.") In Fallows's telling, reporters mistakenly elevated the importance of the commercials, giving them hours of valuable free air time, because they were broadcast in places political reporters (unlike the general public) happened to watch, and served as ready-made audio-visual aids to the horse-race story that the Clinton White House was losing traction in the debate. 

The second key misinformation-related media misstep was The New Republic's award-winning February 1994 deep read into Hillarycare called "No Exit," by the Manhattan Institute's Elizabeth McCaughey. "Her discoveries were terrifying,” Fallows wrote, but “her article contained two kinds of minsinterpretations which together gave a completely distorted picture of what the bill would do." (For a more detailed appraisal of the article, read the modern New Republic.)

Key here to the evolution of media thinking is what happened next. In Fallows's telling, the article's inaccuracy-riddled case against the bill was amplified by George Will, Rush Limbaugh, and Republican opportunists. "As McCaughey's claims took on momentum and a life of their own...a journalistic establishment devoted to helping Americans resolve this issue would have examined criticisms of the plan, as well as the plan itself," he wrote. Instead of that, "because McCaughey and her arguments had affected the prospects for the rest of the participants, they could be talked about without ever being examined." 

By the time Washington's next great heave toward health care reform got underway, there was no way that the newly emboldened press, then jumping enthusiastically into the "fact-checking" business, was going to let the irresponsible Republican spin machine pollute and derail such an important policy discussion again. After all, they'd seen that conservatives would "swift-boat" Democrats using the flimsiest of arguments, and many of Washington's most respected thinkers were using their recently enhanced lie-detectors to produce such unblinking judgments as "Let's Just Say it: Republicans Are the Problem."

Never forget! ||| whitehouse.govwhitehouse.govSo instead of diving into the factual claims of a sitting president trying to wrestle through a major piece of domestic legislation, journalists spent thousands of column inches and hundreds of academic hours dissecting a single Facebook post by Sarah Palin. Instead of investigating the stated policy fears of anti-Obamacare townhall participants in the summer of 2009, many commentators chose to interpret those worries as unstated racism, and make wildly inaccurate predictions about an upsurge in right-wing violence. And at every step of the way, the president made sure to couple his own truth-bending efforts with journalist-pleasing claims denouncing "misinformation" and false equivalence. As recently as yesterday, the White House blog had the temerity to issue a "fact-check" correcting misapprehensions about the Obamacare rollout.

The above should not be read as blanket claims about the entire press corps; many individual journalists (including/especially those with fixed political ideologies) have been producing fine work on the Affordable Care Act for years, some of which you can see linked to in Nyhan's CJR piece. Factcheck.org, for example, has ample reason to be proud of its efforts. But if you're searching for answers about why so many news organizations find themselves a bit surprised this week, it's worth gazing into recent media-criticism history, and remembering that anyone wielding government power will look to exploit whatever the refs might give them.

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  • Tman||

    "Until now, it was very difficult to say definitively that the president was not correct, because that hadn't happened yet."

    lolwut

  • Nazdrakke||

    Until morning it was very difficult to say definitively that the sun would not rise in the west because the sun hadn't risen yet.

    /msm

  • Libertarius||

    /and David Hume

  • ThomasD||

    Yes, Obama is as guilty of working the refs as the Harlem Globetrotters are guilty of working the refs at one of their performances.

    Forget media bias, media independence is a myth.

  • Mumu Bobby||

    Journalism. It's what's for breakfast.

  • CatoTheElder||

    They were too busy fact checking Palin's "death panel" claim to bother with fact checking anything Obama would say. A good Messiah doesn't lie, so why bother?

  • ||

    Don't worry, I'm sure this weekend SNL will have a totally fresh and topical set of Sarah Palin jokes.

  • ||

    I remember wondering if I'd still be hearing Sarah Palin jokes in 2016 in 2012. It's almost 2014 and they've no sign of going away yet.

  • Lord Humungus||

    I believe the refs were too busy fellating their god building a narrative of Democrat triumph.

  • Fluffy||

    They didn't fact check it because "Every other industrialized country has nationalized health care!"

    They don't really want to fact check it even now.

  • albo||

    Exactly. If Europe can do it and remain a paradise, the US can do it, too. Look at all the smart people in the White House. They can't be wrong, can they?

  • Lady Bertrum||

    TOP. MEN.

  • larry hammond||

    They are on top to be sure. On top boning the rest of us, without consent. AKA: Raping the country and having it described by the media as a romantic date.

  • JW||

    Every time a travel show comes on for either Spain or Italy, the wife-unit starts whining about how good the people there have it compared to the US, with their simple and slow-paced lives in quaint villages.

    She doesn't understand how they could possibly be miserable, economic wastelands, with massive unemployment, tiny homes, expensive goods, oppressive top-down planning and strangling regulatory regimes. Not to mention Europe shutting down in August, which would make me nuts. Everyone looks so happy in those shows and they have those trains and free health care!

    I like to point out that the amount of salt, fat and booze they consume in those quaint villages would make her pearl-clutching head explode.

  • Brandybuck||

    Not to mention the wonderful cheese they eat...

  • BuSab Agent||

    She is so very wrong. I lived for four years in a quaint village in Wales and nothing is simple. Americans in general have no idea how terrifyingly convenient their lives are. One example: taking a bath. My house was run off a central coal furnace. If I wanted a bath in summer, I would have to go get the coal bucket and get a load of coal out of the coal bin--that's if the husband unit had remembered to refill the coal bin because the collier refused to deliver to us because of our scary dog--then dump the coal into the furnace and basically set fire to a rock (I am now a master at lighting a coal fire but in the beginning not so much). After a half hour of fiddling with the air vents and judicious poking, the fire would be hot enough to heat water. Then I would have to go switch the water feed from the radiators to the hot water tank and wait for the water to get hot enough. THEN and only then I could have a bath.

  • ||

    umm...

    Why are you using hot water in the summer for a bath?

    Also why aren't you using hot water in winter for a bath?

  • Jordan||

    Why wouldn't you use hot water for a bath in summer? Unless it's 85+ degrees inside the house, which seems unlikely in Wales.

  • BuSab Agent||

    So you take baths with only cold water? You are a very sturdy individual! Summer in Wales is about 60 degrees. The one year it got up to 75, the natives were passing out in the streets from heat prostration. The reason is that in summer we didn't run the furnace all the time whereas in winter we did. So a winter bath was just switching the water feed over, but you still had to go out every four hours or so if you were running it full tilt to get more coal. To avoid doing that at night, we'd close all the vents so it would burn very slowly, but that meant that the house was fucking cold at night. Thermostats are amazing things. I love them. I didn't know how much until I had to live with the temperature of the house being controlled by how high a damn fire was, and how often I felt like getting more fuel.

  • BuSab Agent||

    That was just one example. There are literally thousands. I was lucky that I lived in a "modern" house. It had central heating and an electric stove. My friends lived in an older house (and in Welsh time scales that meant 600 years old), heating was done by fireplaces in individual rooms, cooking was on a coal stove, and though they had electricity, it was a retro fit so not all rooms had outlets.

  • Mumu Bobby||

    But you have Tom Jones so there's that.

  • blcartwright||

    it sounds like my grandparent's house, in a Pa coal mining town - in the 1960's! In my parents lifetime there was a large difference in life style between rural and urban. That, to a large extent, has disappeared in the US.

  • KPres||

    You take cold showers? Christ, that's pretty much the definition of misery.

  • Swarley||

    There is no peanut butter in central Europe! It's uncivilized!

  • LynchPin1477||

    If this is true then there is absolutely no way I could live in Europe. Even if I didn't like guns and freedom.

  • BuSab Agent||

    Oh and the salt,fat, and booze are what makes the "simple" life bearable.

  • Lord Humungus||

    hey, anyone remember this "faux" scandal?

    The Internal Revenue Service shared highly confidential tax information of several Tea Party groups in the IRS scandal with the Federal Election Commission, a clear violation of federal law, according to newly obtained emails.

    The public watchdog group Judicial Watch told Secrets Thursday that it was former scandal boss Lois Lerner who shared the information on groups including the American Future Fund and the American Issues Project.

    The emails obtained by Judicial Watch show that the IRS, which was considering the tax status of the groups, gave the FEC the tax returns of the groups, including income, expenditures and staff pay. The emails also revealed the exact working of the prying political questions the IRS wanted the groups to reveal, such as their goals and the requests for brochures and ads.


    http://washingtonexaminer.com/.....le/2538263

    and nothing else happened...

  • John||

    And Harry Reid and others were yapping about Romney's taxes because they just made up the idea. No one in the IRS would ever have leaked such information to them. Never.

  • Killazontherun||

    Reid's claims were so way off base to Romney's actual tax payments that I think Reid pulled it out of his own ass without prompting.

  • ||

    Why have malice or incompetence when you can have both?

  • Finrod||

    And that alone was enough to tip the 2012 Presidential election:

    http://www.realclearmarkets.co.....?state=nwa

  • Fatty Bolger||

    playing into the media’s natural suspicion of Republican misinformation and exploiting its regrets over Harry & Louise, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, and Elizabeth McCaughey.

    In other words, they weren't going to let the truth defeat them this time - not when the great prize was so close to hand. You want truth? Fuck the truth! The truth only hurts our cause!

  • Nazdrakke||

  • Doctor Whom||

    You've raised some very serious issues, and in response .... Look! Over there! Rand Paul plagiarized Wikipedia!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Are we still pretending that journalists aren't first and foremost water-carriers for the Democrats?

  • Paul.||

    Who's pretending?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Well, then, we don't need to analyze this situation beyond that.

  • Paul.||

    NPR was providing helpful tips this morning for people who just lost their plans.

    Nothing to see here. Move along.

  • General Butt Naked||

    NPR was providing helpful tips this morning for people who just lost their plans.

    Lemme guess...

    1. Buy a new plan that you don't need and can't afford.

    2. That is if you plan-dropped people really exist and aren't just some faux newz, astroturf frauds.

  • Paul.||

    Here's a fun interview by Bob Siegel and Julie Rovner. Hard...hitting:

    SIEGEL: So if these plans are not covered by the grandfathering clause, does that mean that they have to be ended as of Dec. 31st?

    ROVNER: Actually, it doesn't. The rules of the health law are that any policy in effect this year can be renewed, or sold new, until the end of the year - for another 12 months. That means that if you have an individual policy you like, your insurer, theoretically, can renew it on Dec. 31st of 2013, through Dec. 31st of 2014, even if it's not in compliance with the health law's new rules.

    SIEGEL: So there's a year grace period here. Why, then, are so many people getting notices telling them that these policies, if they have them, are finished, they can't get them again?

    ROVNER: Apparently, this is a business decision that these insurers are making. It's not something that's technically being forced on them by the law, at least not for this year.

    SIEGEL: Thank you, Julie.

    ***end of interview*

    Phew, that was easy.

    http://www.npr.org/templates/s.....=241903912

  • John||

    It was just a business decision not the law. You see if they didn't drop you plan, they would go broke because of the law. So the law totally has nothing to do with it.

  • JWatts||

    ROVNER: Apparently, this is a business decision that these insurers are making. It's not something that's technically being forced on them by the law, at least not for this year.

    I heard that interview on the radio. It was ridiculously biased. They left the clear impression that everything would have been fine, but for the Greedy Corporations who were kicking people off their health care, just because they wanted to.

  • Sevo||

    ..."It's not something that's technically being forced on them by the law,"...

    I wonder what that means. Are they to be fined if they don't, thereby they're not 'technically forced'?

  • AlexInCT||

    ^^^^THIS^^^^

  • R C Dean||

    Who's pretending?

    Umm, Matt, in the post above?

    Really, the explanation is simple:

    Through some combination of political ideology/partisanship and deference to those in authority, journalists are much more likely to research and report critically on an opponent of a Democratic person or policy than they are on the person or policy itself.

  • Killazontherun||

    That's a false equivalence between the opportunistic Republicans who don't care if the people suffer so long as they get their way, and the Democrats who work really hard to serve the Greater Good.

    Considering putting a sarc tag there, its too close to what a newsCarney would actually say.

  • Paul.||

    Unfortunately, most media coverage before this week did not explain how the process was likely to play out or hold the president accountable for making promises he could never keep.

    RC Dean's DemOp media moniker is 100% accurate is why.

  • Lady Bertrum||

    According to this story by Avik Roy in Forbes the cancellation notices won't go out to just individual policyholders. The same interpretation of grandfathering old policies will affect the group market. An internal HHS report anticipates 96 million Americans will have their existing plans cancelled.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/th.....obamacare/

    If the bitching about lost individual policies which affect something like 5% of the population is intense, wait until employers start getting notices their plans are cancelled. Oh, some plans won't satisfy OC requirements NOT because they don't meet minimum benefit standards but because they're too generous and will be subject to the "Cadillac Tax".

    “The Departments’ mid-range estimate is that 66 percent of small employer plans and 45 percent of large employer plans will relinquish their grandfather status by the end of 2013,” wrote the administration on page 34,552 of the Register. All in all, more than half of employer-sponsored plans will lose their “grandfather status” and get canceled. According to the Congressional Budget Office, 156 million Americans—more than half the population—was covered by employer-sponsored insurance in 2013.
  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Well, yeah--this is why the unions are so pissed now that they found out what was in the bill. They negotiated some VERY generous healthcare plans, and now they're going to end up losing them.

  • John||

    And remember how they claimed it wasn't a tax increase? Unless you have decent health insurance.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Sometimes I wonder if Roberts' argument wasn't an actual legal decision, but just a far-sighted troll because he had good idea about how this was going to play out, and wanted to watch the carnage.

  • tarran||

    Dude,

    It wasn't Vulcan 16 dimensional chess; people in government are rarely bright enough to play checkers well.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Maybe, but I'm not so sure. If I recall, his argument could have been construed to mean, "If people elect representatives that pass bad laws, it's not the job of the court to protect voters from their bad decision to vote for idiots that pass laws like this."

  • Paul.||

    I subscribe to the theory that he changed is vote at the 11th hour for the sake of political unity, constitutionality be damned.

  • BuSab Agent||

    I subscribe to the theory that the NSA had some juicy details on his private life that he wanted kept private.

  • Concerned Citizen||

    Exactly.

  • ||

    Cocktail party invitations and worrying about his "legacy" after being browbeaten with "if you don't want socialized healthcare you want the old and sick to die in the streets" arguments over the course of decades.

  • KPres||

    I subscribe to the theory that John Roberts is a neocon puppet who decided it was a tax because neocons LOVE Obamacare and wanted from the beginning.

  • Harun||

    Nah, it was just the usual "You don't want to be seen as cancelling the signature achievement of the 1st black president do you?"

  • Lady Bertrum||

    Our health insurance through my husband's employer will be considered "Cadillac". He's a private sector worker, but his employer buys good insurance. He's in a very competitive industry and high-end benefits are common.

    So, his employer will need to decide whether to continue on with the plan they have or something very similar and pay the tax, or seek out something that complies - meaning we'll lose access to the best hospitals and physicians. Fortunately, we're a healthy bunch but the son of a co-worker has cystic fibrosis and they're very concerned they'll lose access to the docs and hospitals they've been using for years.

  • JW||

    The sacrifice they're making for the good of herd should bring them comfort, as he struggles for every breath in their new, 'approved' hospital.

  • Spoonman.||

    My company canceled all HMO plans because new requirements made them a terrible value.

  • robc||

    HMO plans are generally a terrible value anyway.

    But, I dont want to sound like some progressive and claim that isnt real insurance anyway, if you like it, you like it.

  • jcp370||

    How does a piece that purports to examine media neutrality contain, among others, these 2 statements that are, well, let's see if the author can spot the problem:

    "playing into the media’s natural suspicion of Republican misinformation"

    "There were two crucial preconditions for this tactic to work: A professional commitment to down-the-middle "fairness," in which news organizations strove to give "both sides" an equal hearing"

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    "When one little Obama sticks his furry little willy into a little panda's ear, and tells him, 'If you like your ear-fucking, you can keep your ear-fucking,' that makes me a very sad panda!"

  • Lady Bertrum||

    Here's the truth about the media: They're fucking lazy and self-satisfied. They should have been engaging in some "investigative" reporting and delved into OC and publically discussed possible outcomes. They didn't do this because 1) They like Obama, and 2) They are fucking lazy.

    Reading and understanding all those pages takes some discipline and critical thinking skills. It's really hard work.

  • JEP||

    Less than you'd think. I spent maybe an hour reading one of the CBO estimates and even I, a lowly engineer with only an Austrian understanding of economics, could figure out that Obamacare was going to be bad for small businesses and part time workers.

  • radar||

    Here's another truth - most reporters write authoritatively about things they don't know the first fucking thing about. To examine some of the names I've seen typing about Obamacare.... Josh Barro has a bachelor's in psychology and worked briefly as an analyst at Wells Fargo, so of course he's supremely qualified to churn out columns on economics, business and health care policy. Ezra Klein has a BA in poli sci. Sad Beard, a BA in philosophy. Weigel, BS in journalism and poli sci (BS? Really? Journalism is a fucking science now?) I can't find much about Greg Sargent's education, but he's never done anything but write columns and blogs so take that for what it's worth.

    None of these people save Barro have ever performed any relevant work whatsoever in the fields they write so authoritatively about, and that one exception is hardly one beyond what thousands of other people can claim. They have no real idea what the hell they're talking about, but they sure are sure of themselves, aren't they?

  • General Butt Naked||

    Here's another truth - most reporters write authoritatively about things they don't know the first fucking thing about.

    Which wouldn't be too bad if Americans, in general, didn't suffer from Gell-Mann Amnesia.

  • radar||

    Aha - I knew I had read that before but I couldn't remember who said it or what it was called. Crichton was an interesting guy.

  • James Anderson Merritt||

    I learned long ago to look for stories about subjects I knew well, estimate the inaccuracy, and apply it to all stories from that same source. When I taught high school civics, I advised my students to do the same, and we practiced that as part of a unit on the critical consumption of news media reports.

  • ||

    Let's not forget that despite having a Poli Sci degree Klein thinks the Constitution and Netflix are both incomprehensible. Which makes me wonder just exactly what was taught while he was getting that degree... other than Marxist agitprop, of course.

  • Loki||

    It was a BA in Poli Sci, so yeah, pretty much 4 years of Marxist agitprop clas warfare horseshit*.

    *I call things what they actually are.

  • PapayaSF||

    OK, except:

    - When Republicans "work the refs," one could say it's more "shaming the Democrat-inclined media into at least trying to appear impartial."

    - Elizabeth McCaughey was largely right: HillaryCare would have been a disaster.

    - The Swift Boaters were right: Kerry did lie about his service in Vietnam. It's left revisionism that has retroactively discredited them and not Kerry.

    - Palin was right: there are what amount to "death panels" in ObamaCare.

  • Spoonman.||

    The death panels thing is bizarre. Death panels already exist in the form of deciding who gets organ transplants.

  • Brian||

    And when democrats aren't whining about how wrong Sarah Palin was about death panels, they admit that, if we had death panels, that would be awesome.

    So, apparently, their problem with Sarah Palin is that she's accusing them of improvements they haven't made yet.

  • grrizzly||

    My proggie (he denies the label) colleague, who obviously hates Sarah Palin, admitted a couple of years ago that his real problem with death panels in Obamacare is that they are not deathly enough.

  • Floridian||

    I stopped reading at the part where they claim the tribunals are run by wise community members. Literally TOP.MEN.

  • Paul.||

    When humanity demands haste, and justice demands expert knowledge, Ontario’s death panels offer a solution

    You know what else Humanity has demanded over the course of history?

  • Paul.||

    The Death Panel thing got you pretty quickly labeled as a Christfag or some such term, but government-controlled healthcare systems have a long and hallowed history of them, and it's only a matter of time before the single-payer advocates call for them here. (article above notwithstanding).

    I like this:

    , a tribunal, rather than a patient's family or doctors, can make final health care decisions.

    Nothing like a "tribunal" to make a progressive wet his panties.

  • Brian||

    I like this part:

    If a [comatose] patient’s substitute decision maker withholds consent, then doctors may apply to the board—comprised of lawyers, mental health professionals, and community members—for a determination that the proposed treatment is in the patient’s best interest. If so, the board has the power to consent on the patient’s behalf.

    What exactly is "the power to consent on the patient's behalf"? Isn't that kind of like saying a rapist has the power to consent on the victim's behalf?

    The patient is comatose. He can't consent to anything. Now, the government can use force and give or withhold treatment, but that's just force: that's not consenting on anyone's behalf.

    If the patient hasn't delegated consent to someone else, then it's impossible to have his consent, since he's incapacitated. They might as well talk about the power to consent on the behalf of dead people, or turnips, or unicorns.

    So, the author obviously thinks he has something very clever to tell us about, even though his perspective on the issue is fantastical. Again, how people take the media seriously is beyond me. They can't say more than 5 sentences without saying something that's wrong or stupid in some way.

  • Paul.||

    What exactly is "the power to consent on the patient's behalf"? Isn't that kind of like saying a rapist has the power to consent on the victim's behalf?

    Simply put: Yes.

    I also like how the Canadian Supreme court actually ruled that the doctors cannot unilaterally refuse to consider the consent of the next-in-line decision-maker, but the tribunal may override the next-in-line decision maker.

    Wise decisions all around.

  • PapayaSF||

    Of course, the death panel thing is the result of an attempt to avoid the economics of the whole issue. Money is not infinite, and everybody wants someone else to pay for health care. A true market system would say: "You want comatose Granny on life support as long as possible? Then I hope your insurance covers it, or if not, cough up the dough."

  • Paul.||

    When someone else is paying for your care, they have a say in your care.

    The problem is I never asked for anyone else to pay for my care.

    We're getting the government progressives deserve.

  • James Anderson Merritt||

    Paul, I have been saying your first two lines in the above posting for decades. Maybe I will appropriate the third for use from now on. ;-)

  • Loki||

    They might as well talk about the power to consent on the behalf of dead people

    In Chicago they vote on dead people's behalf all the time, so...

  • James Anderson Merritt||

    In Missouri, they even vote FOR dead people. Perhaps some people there voted for a dead guy on behalf of other dead guys in 2000, thus kicking the living John Ashcroft to the curb, so that he was free to become our Attorney General.

  • radar||

    White leftist guilt is one helluva powerful drug. The Dem-media complex occasionally told the truth about the Clintons and their machinations, but most of them would chew glass before they'd turn on Chocolate Nixon.

  • Paul.||

    Two years into Clinton's first term, we saw an unprecedented route in Congress. We're now well into Obama's second term and we haven't seen anything that I consider transformative from the public.

    I believe we're firmly entrenched in the era of "Free Stuff".

  • Brian||

    So instead of diving into the factual claims of a sitting president trying to wrestle through a major piece of domestic legislation, journalists spent thousands of column inches and hundreds of academic hours dissecting a single Facebook post by Sarah Palin.

    This. It also tells you exactly why Sarah Palin is talked about at all: she's just a distraction. Instead of doing their jobs and examining the administration, the media focuses on Sarah Palin and wants to let us know how crazy she is. That way, they can frame any debate as Crazy Sarah Palin vs. whoever they like.

    Maybe if democrats didn't spend so much time feeling real smug for being smarter than Sarah Palin, they could avoid implementing train wrecks of social policy. All I'm saying is that Sarah Palin didn't fuck up everyone's health insurance. She has that going for her, at least.

  • radar||

    Sarah Palin is a)irrelevant at this point, except among the more feverish of Team Red b)no dumber than a host of Dem elected officials. The obsession with her on both sides is surreal.

  • Brian||

    I looked at the most recent top story at CNN politics a few days ago. The title was "The Return of Sarah Palin." Just in time, it seems. It amazes me that people still take the media seriously.

  • Finrod||

    Well, they can only talk about the SCOAMF for so long at a time, since they're having to struggle really hard to find anything good to say about him currently.

  • Paul.||

    For Shrike, the sun rises and sets on Sarah Palin.

  • John||

    If the Dems didn't have a distraction, they might have to defend their policies. The entire culture war is nothing but a giant distraction to get people to vote on something besides the size of government. The Democrats go over and go after the SOCONs and when the SOCONS fight back, the Dems make the entire election about the women and the gays and everything but, spending the economy and the size of government and all of those things that people disagree with the Democrats on but not quite enough to vote against them if they are all angry about the Culture war.

  • Brett L||

    To be fair, the SoCons vote for candidates who have no more interest in shrinking government than the Dems.

  • John||

    Really? I think liberals would disagree with that.

  • Paul.||

    Of course they disagree with that.

    Turn your sights to a bluer-than-blue-found-in-nature blue state like mine.

    Two candidates run. Both uber progressive. You know how they paint eachother during the election? As government-cutting right wingers.

    That's what progressives do, John.

    That's why SoCons can grow the government and still successfully be accused of DEREGULASHUN AND CUTTING GOVERNMENTZ TO THE BONEZ!

  • John||

    Sometimes a difference in quantity is so great that it becomes a difference in quality.

    Wanting to go after porn and gambling is big government. But is not the same as wanting to spend the government into bankruptcy. I don't see any SOCONs advocating for policies that will result in bankruptcy. But I see a lot of Dems who are.

    So I don't see how it is anything like the same.

  • Paul.||

    I don't see any SOCONs advocating for policies that will result in bankruptcy. But I see a lot of Dems who are.

    I agree with this in general.

    There's also a difference (major) between wanting to cut government and just wanting to kind of sort of slow the growth.

    Paul Ryan, portrayed (successfully) by the media as the right-wingiest anti-government teabilbobagginsey candidate evar wanted to shrink how much from the government?

  • Harun||

    Paul Ryan is probably close to JFK in policy.

  • Peej||

    Gambling? Honestly, I would like to see SoCons go after gambling - when the government is sponsoring it. State lotteries and casinos seem to be sacrosanct to both parties, despite being a pretty morally dubious method of taxation.

  • radar||

    Exactly. Mike Huckabee is big government to the core and he's beloved by most socons.

  • Paul.||

    John, they can turn any discussion on spending and the size of government into women and gays and minorities. That's what they do.

    Remember, John, to the media, cutting government is a racist codeword.

  • JW||

    Proglodytes use Sarah Palin much in the same way Tourette's sufferers use violent tics and ethnic slurs.

  • Lord Humungus||

    Isn't this the part of the press doing a CYA*?

    I mean _we_ know they aren't objective. It's evident in their wording and what they chose to cover. But with an unpopular law and a president who is shrinking in the polls, now it's time for "Too bad we didn't see the obvious" moment of reflection. And see - you can trust us now...

    It's an obvious - and very base - move.

    * I believe John predicted this 2-3 days ago.

  • OneOut||

    They are trying to reinvent their credibility before ALL THAT IS HILLARY runs for Prez. That way others will continue to listen to them.

    After all, didn't they expose Obama for what he was ?

  • JEP||

    So, real life data point:

    My company had a meeting this morning explaining the changes in the benefits packages. The healthcare coverage is going to remain the same(no changes in deductibles), but premiums are increasing by 21% - what the employee pays towards the premiums is increasing by 21% and what the company pays towards the premiums is increasing by 21%.

    Part time employees are going to be paying ~$500 a month to get same plans as full time employees.

    And for reference, I'm in Colorado.

  • ChrisO||

    It's not just how a story gets covered, but whether (and to what degree) a story gets covered at all. Big Media was all too happy to flood the zone in fact-checking stupid shit like Sarah Palin's post-election autobiography and the inane Scooter Libby story, but they were remarkably incurious about the real-world effects of Obamacare. Maybe they should have assigned more reporters to the story if they wanted to figure it out.

  • ChrisO||

    And yes, I do believe political bias plays a big role in determining what gets covered and what doesn't.

    If journalists are 90-percent Democrats (which they are), why would anyone be surprised if their choices and assumptions tilt Democrat?

  • PapayaSF||

    Exactly. Sarah Palin's background? Send swarms of reporters to Alaska! Obama's background? Well, here's what he says in his autobiographies. That should be enough research.

  • JWatts||

    but they were remarkably incurious about the real-world effects of Obamacare. Maybe they should have assigned more reporters to the story if they wanted to figure it out.

    No, I think your basically wrong about that. The media did assign a whole bunch of reporters to Obamacare. They just assigned them as support staff and cheerleaders.

  • Sevo||

    ..."if they wanted to figure it out."

    Exactly; they had no desire to do so. They preferred to cover that hag's victory laps after she jammed it through.
    The results? Who cares? It's the thought that counts.

  • Harun||

    There has been actual research on this, and yes, the media can set the agenda and influence what people think.

    (The research involved people coming in for a political survey being told to wait in a waiting room where a fake news feed was running...they had a newsfeed where defense issues were trumpeted, and a placebo where it was not. In the surveys, people adjusted their priorities for the nation accordingly.)

  • Brian||

    Another possible explanation for the lack of scrutiny given to Obama's promises is that the press often takes its cues about the flaws in a policy from the opposition party, which is part of a pattern of indexing coverage to the range of debate among political elites. In this case, conservative politicians and pundits often emphasized baseless charges like "death panels" or made speculative claims about how it is intended to undermine employer-provided insurance. This coverage failure underscores the need for a vocal and reality-based opposition.

    In other words, he's blaming republicans for not telling the media that Obama was wrong about Obamacare.

    Are. You. Fucking. Serious?

    Shouldn't we have a "reality-based" media, regardless of what republicans do?

    If the media is waiting for republicans to show them how to fact-check democrats, then they're not allowed to act condescendingly superior. Not with any intellectual honesty, they aren't.

  • ChrisO||

    Real investigative journalism takes hard work, skill and a willingness to make enemies of the rich and powerful. Not to mention an inherent distrust of *everyone*. I see none of those characteristics in today's Big Media.

  • John||

    Come on Chris. Going over to Heritage or Cato and talking to someone for ten minutes and having them explain why the Republicans are right and how this thing is going to cost people their health insurance is really hard. How were journalists supposed to think to do that? I mean Obama is so dreamy. Who wanted to talk to anyone else?

  • ChrisO||

    I agree, but I don't want reporters believing or reporting as "fact" the spin from Heritage or Cato any more than I want them to believe the bullshit that emanates from the White House.

    Now, accurately reporting all opinions on a given story is obviously a different matter, but a reporter is supposed to dig below the surface, and merely acting as a transcriptionist for everyone's spin is not "doing the job."

  • John||

    Sometimes partisans have a point. Just because someone works for one side or another doesn't mean they are always lying. You can't do accurate reporting or analysis unless you are willing to talk to partisans and smart enough to understand when they have a point.

    Journalists only talk to one side and are not smart enough to know when they are telling the truth.

  • OneOut||

    If today's media were around in the 70's Nixon would still be President...or something.

  • sasob||

    No, I think he'd still be just as dead as he actually is. :-)

  • Bryan C||

    Nixon isn't "dead". He's just working very slowly at a reduced level of functionality.

  • John||

    And don't forget the media pretty much sold Obama to the country. So even if you could blame the lack of fact checking on the evil Republicans, you still are left with the fact the media sold the country a lying incompetent.

    People like the jerk who wrote that quote understand that the media's job is to sell America on Democratic schemes. So they are trying to figure out some way to get the suckers to believe them next time.

  • OneOut||

    Exactly... I just posted above that the media is just repositioning itself to be considered "factual" about their coverage of Hillary.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    The "false equivalence" narrative would make sense if journalists were (a) impartial or at least honest, (b) subject-matter experts and (c) willing to put in the time to investigate issues.

    So if a journalist actually has health-care expertise, perhaps (s)he could reject false-equivalence reporting and just "tell it like it is," using his/her own judgment. They would be able to recognize bad arguments through skill and hard work, and would be honest enough to point out the bad arguments of either side.

    But this "reject false equivalence, tell it like it really is" approach *doesn't* work with journalists who are (a) biased, (b) generalists with liberal-arts educations, and (c) lazier than a cat sleeping in the sunshine. Trusting such people to Inform The People about complicated policy issues where they have an ideological stake and can't be bothered to examine the evidence themselves simply means they'll be recycling talking-points from the side they support while suppressing valid perspectives from the side they don't support. Such journalists should be forced to give balanced, on-the-one-hand-on-the-other-hand coverage, since they don't have the skill to do anything else.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    Exactly. They have gone far beyond their level of competence and their ideology is picking up the slack. There is nothing quite as bad as telling a reporter that learning about issues on which they have no understanding or personal stake is useless and that reporting should be left to their personal biases. What you described -- and what journalists are practicing today -- is muckrackery, pure and simple.

  • John||

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/.....t-say.html

    McArdle chalks this all up to all of the wonks just living in expertopia thinking everyone knew this because they did. Yeah Megan, it wasn't that they were all lying sacks of shit who had sold out to help the President. No. It was an honest mistake.

  • radar||

    That one is just surreal. So they knew it was all lies, but they didn't think twice about it because they just assumed everyone else would know it too? In that case, what the hell is the point of the lie in the first place? They thought it was just a fun national exercise of playing along with dishonesty?

    People lie in order to conceal things, and people who are supposedly so fucking brilliant thought that it wasn't lying because the truth was universally known? What?

  • Mainer2||

    You can’t make even the nicest of omelets without breaking eggs.

    Does she understand that that's generally perceived as a bad thing ?

  • Firework Surprise||

    "Again, there is much one could disagree with about Alterman's influential conclusions, but I would posit this fact as inarguable: Since his book was published, journalistic mores and practices have moved heavily away from the ideal of giving equal weight to both sides."

    Giving equal weight to both sides is far from the ideal journalistic practice. The ideal journalistic practice is to investigate and report the facts. Both sides are giving spin, it should be (and hasn't been for a long time) the job of the journalist to ignore the bickering children and report what they know to be true.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Assuming they have the skill and honesty to do the work necessary to "get beyond the spin" and find "the real facts." Many journalists are just dumb, lazy and biased and the only way they can compensate for this is to do the standard "Brookings says this but Cato says the other" type of "both sides" reporting.

  • Winston||

    report what they know to be true

    What if that is that is "We Need TOP MEN to run things"? And since the Dems are the ones moving in the right direction then why should they allow the GOP to capitalize on Dem weaknesses?

  • Finrod||

    Problem is, for a lot of Democrats 'truth' is 'whatever helps the Democratic Party'.

    Guess which party journalists are heavily slanted towards?

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    I don't agree with Alterman about much, but one of his central critiques rang true: The savvier among conservatives had learned how to "work the refs"—badger the allegedly impartial arbiters of the Fourth Estate in such a way to produce rulings more favorable to the opposing team.

    This is nonsense, because -- as you yourself note -- it presupposes a neutral arbiter in the first place. The journalist cadre is 90% Dem and has an observable bias for the left dating back to the Cold War. Perhaps this bias is not intentional, but it certainly colors the work that they do and (more than anything else) the stories they choose to cover. HillaryCare didn't fail because of some ad; it failed because it seriously overreached, was created in a suspect process, didn't have the support of the health insurance industry or the American people, and didn't even have its own party's support.

    Likewise, ObamaCare is not failing because of "Republican lies"; it's failing because people are being impacted in the here and now and they don't like what they're seeing.

  • John||

    The same people who see bias in every other context, are convinced that journalists being 90% Dem could never result in any bias. A male math teacher will always give girls the short shrift. But a hard core liberal journalist is totally capable of writing the Republican side of things fairly.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    The truth has a liberal bias!

  • Paul.||

    Joe used to say that.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Yeah, but he was serious.

  • JWatts||

    Likewise, ObamaCare is not failing because of "Republican lies"; it's failing because people are being impacted in the here and now and they don't like what they're seeing.

    That's one of the more recent Leftists memes. That the Republican's wish Obamacare would fail and they have refused to help it succeed, thus they are to blame.

    I've read or heard at least a half dozen stories that mention the Federal website not working wouldn't be a problem if all those Republican governors had just built their own web sites.

  • Harun||

    Yeah, meanwhile in reality, the Feds and everyone knew that a few states would have trouble and the Feds knew they would have to do their own.

  • OneOut||

    Journalism is a LIBERAL ARTS degree.

    Expecting them to understand and be sympathetic to conservative ideals is asking to be disappointed.

  • Almanian!||

    Jesus, fucking CHRIST. It's not any more complex than that "the media" are FUCKING LAZY. so until there's SO much evidence they can't ignore it, or a story writes itself, they're not going to do any "jounalizm" or "investigation" or "thinking". Not much of anything at all.

    That's why my company, like most companies, WRITES FUCKING PRESS RELEASES. SO "JOURNALISTS" CAN CUT AND PASTE.

    And the gummint does the same thing.

    Journalists are even lazier than most other people - that explains 99% of what you see from "journalists".

    Also, fried chicken.

  • John||

    Except that they are lazy right up until the story involves a Republican or can advance the Leftist agenda. Then they are hard working crusaders for truth. Funny that.

  • Harun||

    "Fly to some small town in Alaska and dig through trash? HELLLZZZZ YEAH!"

    "Research what Obama did on the Anneberg something or other...zzzzzzzzzzzz. No thanks."

  • Almanian!||

    Jesus, fucking CHRIST. It's not any more complex than that "the media" are FUCKING LAZY. so until there's SO much evidence they can't ignore it, or a story writes itself, they're not going to do any "jounalizm" or "investigation" or "thinking". Not much of anything at all.

    That's why my company, like most companies, WRITES FUCKING PRESS RELEASES. SO "JOURNALISTS" CAN CUT AND PASTE.

    And the gummint does the same thing.

    Journalists are even lazier than most other people - that explains 99% of what you see from "journalists".

    NOW - add to this "in the tank for Obama", "most are lefties", etc. etc. etc. All makes sense, dunnit?

    Also, fried chicken.

  • Almanian!||

    WHOA! Oh - it's 3:00ish.

    go figure

  • BuSab Agent||

    You should know by now about the daily 3 o'clock squirrel attack.

  • Adamsmith1776||

    I think they were all duped by Nancy Pelosi's line about having to pass the bill to find out what was in it. The brilliant 4th estate missed the fact that they could read the bill BEFORE it got passed to find out what was in it. After it passed, who cared because it was already "the law of the land". Had any journalist thought to read random bits of the law BEFORE it passed, they would have found all kinds of nasty provisions that were obvious from plain reading.

    Someone could have one a Pulitzer just by doing that. And, if they applied even a little thought and knowledge of econ or insurance, then they could have seen this coming a mile away and won a friggin' nobel prize.

  • Sevo||

    Adamsmith1776|10.31.13 @ 3:12PM|#
    "I think they were all duped by Nancy Pelosi's line about having to pass the bill to find out what was in it"...

    The fact that this comment *didn't* become the laughingstock of news reports and TV shows meant those outlets truly accepted the 'logic' of the claim.
    I first thought it was satire until I realized that hag actually said that ans was not ridden out of congress on a rail.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    The journalists' are so big that they assume they can tell the difference between The Truth and Corporate Spin, but their audience can't. These C students with generalist degrees and limited critical thinking skills think they're smarter than their audience, and that they should filter out what they consider propaganda so it doesn't pollute their vulnerable viewers/readers.

    Of course, critiques of the Light Bearer's policies is so clearly corporate spin, financed by sinister oil interests, that for the sake of the public it should be filtered out in favor of the wisdom of politicians and young idiots camping in public places.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    journalists' *egos* are so big...

  • Winston||

    Are we still pretending that journalists aren't first and foremost water-carriers for the Democrats?

    Umm, Matt, in the post above?

    This. Being awfully generous to the media Matt. Don't want to burn any bridges for that position at HuffPo now do we?

    impotence in the face of Republican "misinformation."

    Ah yes the notion that Dems are for the Greater Good and their only weakness is that they are incompetent in the face of Rethuglikkkan lies. This is the line adopted by the supposedly libertarian Simpsons and in the allegedly non-political (according to Suderman) GTA V.

    This attitude is the big problem with the media. They are statist fucks and they think they should be fighting to make sure that Real TOP MEN are running things.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    So GTA V *is* harmful, after all!

  • Winston||

    The liberal strawman cartoon is called Impotent Rage. Gee what does that tell what the writers think the problem with the left is?

  • ||

    yeah GTA V is critical of the left as only the far left can criticize it.

    "The left is not left enough!!!"

  • ||

    It's still only out for consoles so I haven't picked it up yet but that's disappointing to hear, although after GTA IV's political slant (Niko: there are genocidal death squads roaming my wartorn homeland, but America, where I go from fresh off the boat to wearing $2k suits, driving a Bentley and fucking not-Paris Hilton from my apartment with a view of Central Park in a few weeks is just as bad, boo hoo, America sucks) I can't say I'm surprised.

    Whenever I watch/read/play something made around Bush's second term I'm always amused by the absolute omnipresence of criticism of him/his party and all the anti-war themes. Just compare and contrast.

    So I'm guessing there's a bunch of stuff in it by people who think that Republican Space Rangers was the funniest thing ever made?

  • ||

    One thing GTA V does in its criticism is go after their mock up of Hilary Clinton as the Dems governor candidate.

    They portray her as completely unqualified and a moralizing shrew.

    But I think that only exists because Clinton took shots at Rockstar with the whole "hot coffee" issue from GTA: San Andres. Not as some counter balance to the heavy left wing messaging of the game.

  • Spiny Norman||

    "Grumpus" is my new favorite word.

  • Bryan C||

    Spare me. I knew all of this stuff shortly after the bill passed because it was pointed out to me by non-journalist bloggers who - get this! - read the goddamn regulations. And then, to avoid making an ass of myself via confirmation bias, I looked them up myself. Reporting facts is the easiest damn thing in the world.

    Journalists lie because they like to lie. It lets them hang out with powerful people, get special legal protections, and effortlessly transition between their roles as Objective Professional Journalist and Highly Paid Government Employee. They sell their services cheap, but we're not their customers.

  • Sevo||

    "They sell their services cheap, but we're not their customers."

    Or, as the old joke has it, we know what the service is, now we're discussing the price...

  • Harun||

    If you think about it, a reporter who could not be swayed and just reported the facts would be useless to either party and would not be given tidbits, etc.

  • Bryan C||

    Not entirely correct. Good journalists should be the arms-dealers of information, playing both sides against each other for their own purposes. The party that's not in power is even more highly motivated to provide useful information.

  • wadair||

    One problem is the media's lack of interest in policy, particularly when assessing claims that are not definitively false (most coverage of the plan was published before it took effect). In this sense, Obama's messaging strategy echoes the Bush administration, which frequently exploited this blind spot by promoting misleading or half-true claims that were difficult to factcheck and uninteresting or complicated to explain to readers. [...]

    It's Bush again!! Can these boneheads ever look at something critically?

  • Ann N||

    was painful to read.

    apparently this matt welch guy is a libertarian?

    apologizing for obama with a shriek christfag attack. hmm.

  • James Anderson Merritt||

    I think it's not so much "blame Bush" as it's saying "the other guys do it too -- that's how the game is played in the beltway." Still, wrong is wrong. Bush was wrong. Obama is wrong. And the lazy press is VERY wrong.

  • Sevo||

    Admittedly, it is the Chron which barely qualifies as a news paper, but the front page yesterday featured a good sized story on a feud between to GOP guys, only one of whom I'd ever heard, and a barely re-written forelock-tugging enviro press release on how the SF bay water might be dangerous in 50 years or so.
    The O'care disaster was, oh, about page 10, beneath the fold.

  • Mumu Bobby||

    Reminds me of the good times of election 2006. From Friday afternoon until mid-day Monday prior to the Tuesday election the MOST IMPORTANT STORY IN THE UNIVERSE was some mega-preacher in Nebraska with almost no Bay Area presence who turned out to be gay. According to SF Gate anyway.

    Just a little support for anybody that might have been wavering.

  • Habeas Dorkus||

    In attempting to explain the media, he becomes the media.
    The "death panels" charge is "baseless," according to this idiot.
    There will, in fact, be bureaucrats in charge of determining coverage -- or the lack of it -- under CuntyCare ... er, ObamaCare.
    We are fucking lost, doomed. I'm just going to stock up on weapons and fuck as many twats as possible before it all goes down.

  • Winghunter||

    They refused to vet Obama! They ran interference and openly ridiculed ANYONE who tried to speak out BUT, you pretend to have to figure out why the media ignored Commiecare??

    Give us a break!

  • FYTW||

    Let me translate Brendan Nyhan's "I'm trying to look reasonable, here, so please ignore the fact that I play for Team Blue" apologia:

    "The reason the media didn't scrutinize Obama's promises is because the Fourth Estate collectively broke out the kneepads for the Chocolate Jesus back in 2008, and is utterly in the tank for the Democratic Party. The media focused on the more outlandish conservative criticisms of the ACA not because of an absence of vocal and reality-based opposition, but because they were desperate to protect the Chocolate Jesus from vocal, reality-based opposition, to the point of pretending that every goofball waving a Confederate flag at a Tea Party rally was the Duly Appointed Representative And Thought-Leader For Conservatives And Libertarians Everywhere."

  • ax123man||

    Personally I question the real importance of all this. Welch loves himself some politics, it seems. As long as you have your head buried that deep in with the den of wolves, the real answers to our problems will allude you.

  • BuSab Agent||

    If they can get you asking the wrong questions, then the answers don't matter.

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  • ipolitics123||

    I would say that there's a simpler explanation than Obama skillfully "working the refs" - the media, chastened by eight years under Bush, having been whipped by its Democrat masters for not supporting Kerry enough, went back to work double-hard for Obama.

    You can see this in articles and video clips from the first Obama campaign (the most famous being Chris "Tingles" Matthews) where many media figures are clearly pulling so hard for Obama that they completely drop any pretense of "equality" or "fact checking."

    The media put Obama in the White House, as much or more than Obama or the voting public did.

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