Howard Kurtz, in his August 24 Washington Post column (“Journalists, Left Out of The Debate”), calls big journalism’s failure to knock down Sarah Palin’s “death panel” charge “a stunning illustration of the traditional media’s impotence.”
As you may have noticed, the “traditional” media recently morphed from administration critics into a pro bono public relations firm for the White House. It happened on or about January 20, 2009. Now, they’re flummoxed by their failure to refute a woman they believe has the communications savvy of a pimento.
Kurtz thinks that the mainstream media have done a great job presenting “the facts” about the Democrats’ health care reform bill, including repeated proof that no “death panel” provision exists.
But people like Kurtz fail to understand that Palin does not allege that the health care reform bill contains the phrase “death panel” or that it openly advocates euthanasia. Sarah Palin’s charge has legs because:
1.) The only way to save money in a government-run health system is to ration care.
2.) The majority of health care expenditures for most people come near the end of life, and thus the elderly present the greatest opportunity for cost savings.
3.) Special-needs people, like Palin’s son Trig, who has Down’s Syndrome, also require spending — another opportunity for economizing.
4.) The government, and too many in our society, believe …
a) infants in the womb to be less worthy of protection than Michael Vick’s dogs,
b) Trig Palin’s life to be Sarah’s foolish choice, and
c) the elderly to be a burden on society.
5.) Other governments which run health care operations have a track record of delaying and denying coverage based on the limited supply of medical professionals and equipment, as well as cost-containment considerations.
6.) The end-of-life counseling language appeared in a section of a bill on cost-containment.
7.) The American people don’t trust politicians, and would rise up in unified opposition if the federal government had a plan to take over and run little league athletics, let alone health care, which does involve life and death decisions.
8.) Americans love freedom.
The reason why the “traditional” media has failed to knock down what Kurtz, et al, see as spurious “death panel” allegations is because journalists and politicians ignore the real facts and the legitimate concerns of the American people.