2010/02/26

Fluff vs substance

My roommate back in college admitted once that he spent an awful lot of time complaining about things (Usually justifiably, I thought) but felt he really had to make an exception once and to declare that the meal we were eating at a usually not-so-great cafeteria was really first-class. In the same light, I'd really like to commend the front-page piece in the Inky today summing up the health care summit yesterday. It's a solid, substantive piece that lets one know where all the players in the health care game are standing and where they're headed.

For the record, Democrats from the President on down appear to have really lost patience with Republican delaying and filibustering and offering "deals" that Democrats simply can't accept, primarily the "deal" of starting from scratch with a blank piece of paper and then building up a brand new health care bill from the ground up. Democrats absolutely refused to start over or to promise not to use the reconciliation process in order to bypass the filibuster.

A columnist from the WaPo, which is a source that is again a frequently unsatisfactory place for political news, does an excellent job delineating where all the political players are and their statements as to what they stand for. Although the columnist is clearly a liberal, he's very fair in sketching out the proposals of four Republicans, showing us that these are good and worthwhile proposals. He also points out their problem in getting anyone to take their observations seriously:

What we didn't hear from Kyl, or Camp, or Coburn or McCain, however, was an offer to vote for a health reform plan if these problems were fixed and their ideas were incorporated. Without even the hint of such offers, there was little reason for a willing president and his unwilling allies to even consider serious compromise. Now the losers will be the American people, who could have surely benefited from such productive dealmaking.

As for the "fluff" guys, ho-o-o-o boy!!! These "news" pieces leave me so completely unenlightened about where people stand and how the legislation is proceeding, the pieces are so full of useless "he-said, she-said" and mindless complaints about how substance-free the Blair House meeting was, I felt my IQ going down just reading that trash. Supermarket tabloids give me more substantive news about celebrities and their romantic liaisons.

On Jon Stewart's Daily Show last night, Stewart pointed out that, well of course, Fox News had fluffy, uninformative, "he-said, she-said" pieces that told citizens nothing of value. Much worse was the fact that Fox portrayed the summit as a game that the two sides were "winning" or "losing." Stewart made it clear that this completely missed the point of the summit. Disturbingly CNN, an allegedly serious source for news, a place where objectivity is valued and that's supposedly information-heavy, took much the same approach. They also saw the health care summit as being about winning and losing. I checked out the CNN piece on the web this morning and was not surprised to see that Stewart was right, but was absolutely appalled to see how completely and utterly worthless CNN's "reporting" was. Their primary summary piece was basically a lot of complaining and griping and carrying on about how worthless the summit was. As the WaPo piece that I earlier cited showed, the summit was extremely helpful for showing the American people that the Republicans are simply not interested in pushing the health care bill forwards and simply want to stand in the way. The CNN piece leaves readers completely in the dark about that.

The Rupert Murdoch-owned Wall St Journal (Murdoch also owns Fox News and the New York Post) also dis-served citizens by mocking the anecdotes that Democrats told to put a human face on the problems with health care in America these days. Apparently, if Democrats are moved by their human feelings to note that their fellow citizens require assistance with their medical needs and then Democrats try to express this with personal anecdotes, that's unacceptable. I guess we can tell now just how much Murdoch cares about his fellow human beings.

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