Paul Waldman wrote in interesting if maddening article article yesterday over at The Washington Post, The Substance and Politics of Obamacare, in One Citizen. It tells the story of Kentucky resident Amanda Mayhew who is thrilled with all the needed medical care she is receiving because of Obamacare. But she would give it all away if it would put an end to all the old people who are being killed by the death panels. It’s kind of sweet actually. Ms Mayhew is clearly a very caring person. In fact, she’s the kind of person that Americans flatter themselves as being: willing to put the needs of the less fortunate above their own.
The bad aspect of this is that her very decency is being used against her. She’s been lied to. There are no death panels. No one is deciding if old people deserve cancer treatment. This is just a scare story designed to malign the new healthcare law. Teens are told the story of The Hook to scare them away from making out in their cars and the Death Panel is told to the working poor to make them turn against a healthcare bill that is designed to help them.
Waldman blames politicians and hate radio hosts and Fox News for the problem of all the misinformation about Obamacare. But I don’t. They are just doing their jobs. They are the foot soldiers for their fascist leaders. My problem is with the mainstream media. All the right wing propaganda about a government takeover of healthcare and death panels never would have gotten a foothold in the mainstream consciousness if it hadn’t been for the local news and the big newspapers and the network news reporting it as, “The administration says that the government is not taking over the healthcare system and that there are no such things as death panels; the Republicans claim this is the end of quality healthcare in America and all people over the age of 65 will be forced to kill themselves; as objective reporters we have no way of saying what the truth is.”
Let’s not forget where the whole idea of the death panel came from. Sarah Palin, of course, came up with the name. But the concept came from Betsy McCaughey — the disingenuous health policy “analyst” who pretty much single-handedly destroyed the Clinton healthcare reform plan. And like James O’Keefe, it doesn’t matter how many times she lies and is shown to be totally wrong, the press just can’t manage to apply even the smallest amount of skepticism towards her. Because, you know: that wouldn’t be “objective!”
The best example of this came when McCaughey went on The Daily Show when she brings out a big binder containing the Obamacare law. And Stewart gets her moving from section to section until it is clear that what she’s claiming is nonsense. Nothing in the law says anything about death panels. It’s clearly just about end of life planning — living wills — and Stewart is absolutely right when he calls what McCaughey is doing hyperbolic and dangerous. Also check out the second part of the interview.
But as usual, the mainstream media didn’t do anything near as good as what the comedy show The Daily Show did. So as usual, the problem is our media that has no real interest in informing readers and viewers. Instead, it is a kind of talking point aggregator. And that’s why we can’t have decent governance. Our government is only as good as the media that covers it. And we don’t even have a media that covers the government. We have a media that repeats the government.
So we have poor Amanda Mayhew who would vote to eliminate Obamacare because of the all the old people she thinks the law will kill. “Liberal” Californians vote against GMO food labeling because they think it is going to harm the one remaining small family farm in the state. And Americans consistently vote for politicians who take money from them and give it to the rich because of some weird sense of fairness. And it is all due to a media system that will only take a stand on an issue when it helps the power elite.