was released on Friday, September 25th. In that poll, 65% of Americans said they favored
a government-sponsored health insurance plan like Medicare that would compete with
private insurance plans. Yet, over the weekend on all the corporate news programs, the
public option was characterized as fractious, divisive, unpopular; and one pundit, Republican
shill Frank Luntz, made the claim that 85% of Americans oppose a public option. How
could this be?
Two-thirds of Americans want a public option and yet the corporate media
paints a picture of an angry electorate frustrated by a possible government take-over of
healthcare. Corporate media made consistent references to angry town halls and the
healthcare initiative on life-support because of the Progressive Democrats insisting upon
capitalistic competition in the healthcare industry. After watching all the coverage, you
would have thought a public plan was one of the worst reforms ever proposed, instead
of one which is wildly popular. How do you explain such a clear disconnect between
what the public says it wants and how these desires are portrayed by the corporate media?
Why do they continue to claim a public option is the one idea which could sink any attempt
at healthcare reform? They saw the poll. They know what it said. Why did no one call
them on this? Why did no host throw this poll in the face of opponents of a public option
and ask them to explain how after a summer of misinformation and attacks it still enjoys
such high support numbers?
Two agendas appear to be operating here. First, the corporate media by definition
reflects the desires of their corporate bosses. Whether it is ABC shilling for Disney or
FOX for Rupert Murdoch, corporations do not want healthcare reform which would
mandate they provide insurance for their employees or face stiff fines. If corporations
have to provide health insurance in a competitive market, they lose a hammer they have
used on workers for years. More and more, workers are asked to choose between a pay
raise or an increase in health insurance premiums. Workers rarely ask for the pay raise.
Under Obama's proposal, with Senator Wyden's amendment, workers could opt for the
public option and take that hammer out of their corporate bosses hands. Second, the need
to generate viewers and profits drives news programs to seek out conflict. The reality is
two thirds of Americans agree on a public option, no denial for pre-existing conditions,
no cap on how much insurance will pay for an illness and insurance portability. These
are the key reforms proposed by progressives, but they are not contentious. They don't
generate lots of noise and heat; so the corporate media creates divisions where they
don't exist to gin up viewers who like to watch mud wrestling.
The poll also showed some other interesting numbers the corporate media
ignored over the same weekend. Sixty-six percent of Americans believe the Republicans
will oppose anything the President proposes. Yet, on program after program, interviewers
asked guests how they intended to pass a bill with bi-partisan support. Americans know
Republicans will never support whatever Obama or Pelosi or Rockefeller suggest; so why
do the corporate pundits continue to insist bi-partisanship is an achievable or desirable
You would think after listening to corporate pundits and the likes of Hanbaugh
and O'Reilly, the President and the Democrats and Progressives are intensely unpopular
and Republicans and Regressives have rebuilt their damaged brand. Already you hear
talk about all the great political gains they will achieve in 2010. They are on the rise.
Nothing the President has done nor Congress achieved can save the Democrats from a
disaster in 2010. The New York Times' poll has some interesting perspective on this
question. Only 30% of Americans view the Republican party favorably. Fifty-two percent
said Obama had better ideas on reforming healthcare than did Republicans. Despite all
the town yells, the tea bag parties, and the guns being carried to demonstrations, 47% of
Americans approve of the President's handling of healthcare. That number is up, Up! from
40% at the beginning of the summer. Did you see that mentioned anywhere? A couple
of other numbers of note...Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is viewed
favorably by only 21% of Americans and House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio is
seen even less popular. Only 14% of Americans like him. In contrast, both Pelosi and
Reid have favorability numbers in the mid-thirties. While not great, you would never
know Pelosi and Reid were more popular from the corporate media. Ironically, despite
it being their poll, there was no evidence of those numbers anywhere on CBS throughout
the weekend news shows.
Finally, some numbers show a very troubling tendency about news and how to
influence it. A few years ago, a study showed that the first information Americans hear
on a subject they will then tend to believe. In other words, they will retain a long term
bias. The study was based on Iraq and showed that after a year of concrete proof that
Iraq possessed no weapons of mass destruction and absolutely no evidence that Saddam
Hussein had anything to do with September 11th, over 50% of Americans still believed
these two lies told and reinforced by the Bush administration to move our country quickly
into war with Iraq.
Now we find a New York Times poll which shows 25% of Americans believe
healthcare reform would create "death panels" to cut off care to the elderly and at least
30% believe illegal immigrants will get new benefits from healthcare reform. More
misinformation! This means the corporate media has a huge obligation to vet what it
reports and what it emphasizes on important issues. Of course, vetting will never happen
because it would reduce corporate America's ability to create the impression of a fight
and thereby cloud important issues.
In spite of all this, the public option still enjoys huge support among the electorate.
Obama is trusted far more than the Republicans, his popularity has gone up when it comes
to healthcare reform and one more thing; there has been a 15% increase in the number of
Americans who think Obama's stimulus package has improved the economy. Have you
seen any of this reflected in the news you have been watching or listening to? Don't count
on it. It is time to rise up and drown out the naysayers. Bring down the fury of Progressive
America. Sixty-five percent of us want a public option and Democrats must be made to
fear our wrath. Call, fax, and email the Senate. Tell the moderates we will run someone
against them in every primary. Tell them they cannot hide on this vote. Inundate the
White House under a blizzard of protests. Tell Obama we voted for change and now it is
time to do what we elected him to do. Fight for better healthcare! Fight for a better future
for our children! Fight for full healthcare for everyone! Fight for progress! Fight!!!
What do you think? I welcome your comments and rebuttals. Please send them