Friday, January 22, 2010

The perils of a liberal media

For those of us with a more conservative political viewpoint, the presence of a liberal media, aka the "mainstream media," is axiomatic. How else to explain this bit of denial in the New York Times today?

There are many theories about the import of Scott Brown’s upset victory in the race for Edward Kennedy’s former Senate seat. To our minds, it is not remotely a verdict on Mr. Obama's presidency, nor does it amount to a national referendum on health care reform - even though it has upended the effort to pass a reform bill, which Mr. Obama made the centerpiece of his first year.
Wow, somebody's living in a bubble. Not "remotely!" But as much as the Right may gripe about the political preference of the media, this is a dual-edged sword for the Left. Because when you hear nothing but enthusiastic cheerleading from the press, you tend to believe that the people are behind you.

That's why the national Democratic Party discovered - too late - that Martha Coakley was going to lose. It's Massachusetts! In a race for Ted Kennedy's seat! Defeat is unthinkable! The next day, the papers will full of adjectives like "stunning" and "unexpected." This is how the entire mainstream media got scooped by a couple of college kids on the ACORN scandal and the National Enquirer is putting itself up for a Pulitzer for (correctly) breaking the story on John Edwards' mistress. The MSM put the blinders on, willingly and repeatedly, to their own shame.

Even now, as Americans turn away from health care reform, the Ahabs are coming out to insist that we can still get that White Whale. The public be damned! They're just going to love it once it's crammed down their throats through legislative legerdemain. I think most of the national media still thinks there's a chance to pass health care reform, and therefore they hope it. But it's done at least for 2010, and no amount of wishing is going to change that fact. The media would serve themselves, and their liberal comrades, if they reported it.

Extra - Here's Jennifer Rubin on Contentions with "Gray Lady to Obama: Double Down!": "Obama has a choice: listen to the Times editorial board or listen to the voters. Republicans are keeping their fingers crossed that he chooses the former." Like I said.

Related - Jonah Goldberg: "Feeling the heat, Obama pours Kool-Aid." And here's Charles Krauthammer: "The Meaning of Brown."

And this - From Matt Hoy.


538 said...

Nate Silver ( analyzes the sizzle vs. the steak:
"What we see is that most individual components of the bill are popular -- in some cases, quite popular. But awareness lags behind. Only 61 percent are aware that the bill bans denials of coverage for pre-existing conditions. Only 42 percent know that it bans lifetime coverage limits. Only 58 percent are aware that it set up insurance exchanges. Just 44 percent know that it closes the Medicare donut hole -- and so on and so forth.

How would public opinion change if people were fully informed about the content of the bills? It's hard to say for sure, but on average, the individual components of the bill are favored by a net of +22 points. An NBC poll in August also found that support went from a -6 net to a +10 when people were actually provided with a description of the bill.

Obviously, it's not as though this is going to do much to help the bill's popularity in the immediate term. But in the long term, once people actually see the go bill into effect, their perceptions are liable to improve, in ways that might help the Democratic party.

Lastly, it's much harder to read the opinion polls as a "mandate" against the health care bill when much of that opinion is based on demonstrably false beliefs, some of which have been perpetuated deliberately by opponents. And it's much harder to know how the Democrats ever expect to pass a health care bill or similarly complicated policies like cap-and-trade if they wither in the face of polls that reflect less a disparity of opinion and more a poverty of accurate information."

Eric said...

After a state of the union-type address, hundreds of interviews and public speeches, the problem is that Obama hasn't explained health care enough? Maybe he should cut down on quantity and focus on quality.

How many Americans know that the law mandates a 21% cut in Medicare reimbursements in the first year? That there's a tax on medical equipment that will surely be passed on to patients? That the cost is being masked by ten years of taxes for six years of expenses? Do all Americans know about the Cornhusker Kickback? The Louisiana Purchase? The Union dispensation for "Cadillac" taxes?

But maybe Americans DO know about these aspects of the bill.

Anonymous said...

Maybe. There are various reasons to oppose the bill.

But the more detailed health care polls have made it clear: again and again, when asked specific questions about the bill's content, hefty percentages of people are getting the answers factually wrong. Not Democrat, not Republican, just wrong.

And when respondents are informed of the content, the positive responses bounce up. It isn't just one detailed poll that shows this; all of them do.

Eric said...

Can you cite just one? One that shows that when voters are informed of the costs vs. the benefits, they think it's a good bill?

I haven't seen it yet, and I don't believe it exists.

Anonymous said...

The point isn't whether there are bad things (or good things) that are politically underpublicized. The point is that a large number of people who describe themselves as "pro" or "con" are objectively wrong about what's in the bill they think they support/oppose.

Here are two of the polls mentioned in the post quoted above:

Eric said...

Wow, this is turning into a post in itself.

A couple points: first, I don't think Americans' distaste for HCR is based solely on the policy but on the process that has produced a 2,000 page monstrosity full of special-interest kickbacks. Also, virtually nobody in America (19% I think) believes this bill will be deficit neutral.

But let's say that Americans are misinformed despite the non-stop push by the Obama White House. Are politicians going to ignore the will of the people because they "know better?" I spent years on this blog trying to convince readers that entitlements were going to bankrupt the country and - although few disagreed - it turns out that seniors really like getting a check every month.

435 Reps have to face the voters in ten months. They're not going to vote on an expensive new entitlement program that doesn't rank close to Americans top concerns because Obama said so.

It's over, Johnny.