Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Manufactured Misinformation

James Fallows only recently returned from another of his extended stays reporting for The Atlantic from Asia. He's shocked to discover "the world's most mature democracy, informed by the world's dominant media system... getting tied up by manufactured misinformation. No matter what party you belong to, you can't think this is a sign of health for the Republic."

Truly, the demented ravings of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Bill O'Reilly have wormed their way into the mainstream media like a deadly virus, infecting everything about our body politic. Newspaper and television outlets cover rabid, spittle-spitting shouters and gun-toting Neanderthals at public health care reform meetings as if they were normal participants in a First Amendment civics demonstration.

They are not normal. They are not there to inform the discussion or advance debate. They are there to prevent free speech by others. And, to misrepresent the various health reform proposals that are being deliberated in Congress.

This kind of behavior has never been sanctioned by the First Amendment, any more than falsely yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater. News reporters who cover them have some real reporting to do beyond describing the manufactured outrage on display. Find out who the protesters really are; where they really come from; and what biased baggage they're bringing into the room. As did Green Bay TV reporter Christoffer Engebretson.

Even better, as Jamison Foser suggests, ignore them.
A dozen people shouting at a town hall meeting -- even a dozen people shouting at each of a hundred town hall meetings -- just doesn't tell us anything meaningful about public opinion. It tells us that there are at least few thousand angry people, and that they're organized. We already know that.

Look: Sarah Palin drew big crowds last year -- and a lot of those people were angry. They yelled, they held up nasty signs, and they convinced a lot of the media there was some huge groundswell of opposition to Barack Obama. Then he went out and won North Carolina and Indiana.

* * *

Video of people yelling about health care may make for good television, but it makes for lousy journalism. It exaggerates the numbers and significance of the people who yell the loudest, whichever side they're on.

To return to the Oliver Wendell Holmes' analogy, large segments of our news media have sunk so low that if a mental case suddenly shouted "Fire!" to stampede a theater crowd, too many reporters in America today would cover it by filing a story that says, "One man offered the opinion that the theater was on fire. While some disagreed, everyone ran for the exits."


ross said...

So, forget about what is in the bill? I'm searching for the mis-information about the bill and all I find is the Left doesn't like how the bill is characterized by opponents.

The mis-information comes from proponents of the plan when they say, like Obama said, that this plan will not be the beginning of the end to private-sector-provided health care.

What I did find from the writer in the Atlantic, is that he is a champion of forcing Americans to sacrifice their freedom for the greater good. What, robbing future generations isn't enough? Sounds like socialism to me.

How's that go again, From each according to his ability, to each according to his need? Karl Marx, 1875. From the mouth of a true communist.

panicbean said...

I have never read where Andrew Sullivan has ever said any such thing about President Obama.

Ross, I would love to see a link from you to that if you have one. Of course it could have been someone else guest blogging for Mr. Sullivan while he was away recently, but I somehow doubt it.

Andrew Sullivan wrote a piece on Obama 2 days before the inauguration and in it he says nothing of the kind as stated above.


This whole socialism meme is getting rather tired, instead of facts we get hysteria and woe is me.


Here is a link to an overview of the proposed health care bill by the AARP. You may want to check it out.


ross said...

Here's what I was commenting about, in the Atlantic article. The guy's name is James Fallows.

"The current legislation has defects, but they're not the ones most often yelled about. Then he makes the point that, to me, matters even more than the legislation itself.

Health reform is a test of whether this country can function once again as a civil society -- whether we can trust ourselves to embrace the big, important changes that require everyone to give up something in order to make everyone better off."

Now,for real information, as opposed to mis-information, about what is in the bill, you'll have to look at the bill. Start here:

or here:

panicbean said...

Ross, he was quoting Steven Pearlstein from the Washington Post, and it would behoove you to read the whole piece.


He finishes with this statement,

"Republican leaders are eager to see us fail that test. We need to show them that no matter how many lies they tell or how many scare tactics they concoct, Americans will come together and get this done.

If health reform is to be anyone's Waterloo, let it be theirs."

I could not agree more, and think it is one of the best editorials I have seen on the health care debate since it began.

Your Ross Callaway seems like a Republican idealogue to me, and I have had my fill of them.

We need solutions to the health care problem in this country, as well as informed discourse. The fear mongering and outrageous lies that are being thrown around in the media, by the Republicans, as well as on the blogs, is not serving anyone.

As someone who is covered by Tricare, I am willing to trust that the government can actually put a health care plan in place that will better serve Americans than what the insurance companies have had far too long to do, and failed miserably at.

What I am not willing to do is sit here and tell those 47 million without any health care that I have mine, screw you, go get yours.

It is becoming increasingly impossible for them to do, and there are many studies that prove that, no matter what you believe.

We certainly aren't ever going to be a civil society with the ability to progress financially or any other way with all the money flowing to the top while the middle class and below file for bankruptcy because they have no medical coverage.

ross said...

If you disagree with Obama that a single payer plan will eventually lead to the end of private sector health care, which I happen to agree with, then we'll just have to agree to disagree.

All the problems with health care can be solved via the private sector. Where competition and profit incentives still exist, anything is possible. Besides, lets not forget the main issue here. That the constitution does not charge the federal government with controlling our health care. Socialist societies do that.

As for the $1 trillion cost. Can you name one circumstance where any government project, let alone the largest government project ever, came in anywhere close to the projected cost? No honest attempt can be made to cut the costs of health care in this country without also addressing tort reform. Not surprisingly, tort reform isn't mentioned in those 1018 pages. Trial lawyers and labor unions are too well connected to the administration. Major donors.

As costs go, Social Security and Medicare are poised to bankrupt this country all by themselves. Barack has no interest in fixing that. It would defeat his purpose. If he could fix that, then he wouldn't need to 'fix' our health care system into a single payer plan. What Obama has planned will only make things worse. China is getting worried about owning junk treasury bills if we keep trying to spend our way into prosperity and borrow our way out of debt.

Problem is, or, the truth is. Obama's idea of remaking America is to knock it down and bring it back as a socialist state. It isn't about helping the poor. It is about controlling our lives, AND, keeping Liberals in control of Washington for evermore.

I read the article on the Post. He hasn't read the details of the bill either. Consequently, I still haven't found any mis-information from Republicans. He is mis-informed as to what is in the bill. So from his perspective, it looks like mis-information I suppose.

Politically speaking, I'm a conservative. That blog, rosscalloway.com, is my blog. I've been looking around for what the Left calls mis-information and so far haven't found any.

That 47 million people, it's not accurate to call them Americans because around 20 million of them are not. They may be in America, but they're not Americans.But anyway, this country grew up without health insurance, let alone government supplied health insurance. So to that I say 'so what' if that many don't have health insurance. They don't need it. They all do have health care though, on the taxpayer's dime if necessary. Emergency rooms may not refuse medical care based on ability to pay. Millions of those 47 million don't want health insurance or feel they don't need it. It doesn't require that we buy it for them. And, according to H.R. 3200, if you don't want to buy health insurance or participate in the govt. plan,then the IRS will simply take what would be an annual premium from you. You like that?

Other sinister points in H.R.3200, where Obama uses his sleight of hand, is when he says that 'you can keep your plan' if you want to. According to the bill, making any change to your private insurance will not be allowed. That is the time that you have to be switched to the govt. plan. This is the 'transition period' that Obama was talking about, that that is how it will happen.

continued . . .

ross said...

continued from previous comment...

I'm not buying the class envy line you're selling either. Fact is, the lowest quintile of income earners have experienced the largest gains. And it goes that way up until the highest quintile of income earners, who actually saw their earnings decline.

H.R. 3200 demands govt access to your bank account, and to your medical records. It demands that any employer that self-insures their employees or uses a private plan, must open their books to the government too. It's all in the bill. Can you say Big Brother?

There are a lot of other down-sides to that bill, many of them listed in my blog, which you can read and understand for yourself. I call it information, not mis-information.

If you can cite mis-information from opponents of the bill, not all are Republicans either, I'd be delighted to see it. That's what I've been looking for.

The excitement you're seeing at these town hall meetings is genuine. No matter how people got the word of the date/time of the event. You have to understand that there are a lot of people, myself included, that don't want to the 'America' that Obama is trying to make, or re-make. As President, he is supposed to preserve and protect it, not transform it.

Anyway, enjoyed the dialog. It's one that needs to be had.

panicbean said...

I see nothing but right wing talking points in your writings. And yes, I did wonder if you were the author of the blog, but since you didn't say you were, I posted accordingly.

You approach this health care issue from the I have mine, go get yours, just as does Congressman Miller and so many others who live here in the panhandle.

While most Americans can get diagnosed in our emergency rooms, they cannot get treatment unless they are financially well above the middle class income wage, or insured through one of the death by spreadsheet companies that we now refer to as our insurance companies.

You certainly have the right to your opinion, Ross, but your data is suspect, as far as I am concerned.

Google tent cities, and tell me what you see.

If this is the America you envision then we definitely have different ideas and dreams of just what this country should and could be.

Be well.

ross said...

You see right wing talking points when you should be seeing what is in the bill. Then the talking point, as you call it, will begin to look like fact. I hesitate to write about anything that I cannot substantiate. Everything I've said about H.R. 3200 is in the bill. There's no reason to be suspect about it. Except maybe because you're not getting the message anywhere else. And isn't THAT a sad commentary on today's mainstream media?

Know what? Everything I read on this blog seems to be left-wing talking points. Feel better? Does that advance the dialog or just avoid it?

BTW, is this your blog?

The economic data that shows the poor are getting richer and the rich are getting poorer is on my blog somewhere as well. It was during the previous two administrations. Hang on ...

Here is is, it spans both Clinton and Bush admins. 9 years from 1996 to 2005.


Best advice I can give to you or anyone else is to not believe anything I say unless and until you check it out for yourself or it is consistent with what you believe.

Anonymous said...

There is no way my employer or yours will switch to a CHEAPER government run health plan for our company and I will then be stuck with Obama's plan.

Right. Pass the kool aid.

panicbean said...

Not my blog, but am flattered.

As to the rest, I refuse to have any conversation with someone who actually posts on the birther shit, as though it were real.

Done with that.

ross said...

We all have that freedom. I'm not holding any belief that Obama is not a legal citizen, which is what you seem to have gotten from my one post / observation on the subject. It's a non-issue as far as I'm concerned. But it is an issue for others.

The point that I made, and you missed, was how the great uniter is anything but. Whether intentional or un-intentional. And he doesn't seem to want to address it, the same way he didn't want to address when life begins at the presidential debate.

My apologies to whoever runs this blog for discussing or explaining posts on my own blog to users of your blog who bring it up here instead of there. That will stop right now.

Anonymous said...

about as left as one can get here

peanut butter