The Gray Lady Sure Knows How to Cocoon its Readers
Now is the time when we juxtapose, Small Dead Animals-style:
Since the very first stirrings of the 2008 campaign, The Times has exhaustively and aggressively covered nearly every aspect of Barack Obama’s story. To suggest that we’ve pulled our punches or tilted coverage in his favor or against his opponents just is not supported by the facts.
—New York Times political editor Richard Stevenson, June 1st, 2012.
Today is a red-letter day for the New York Times. For the first time, the paper has reported in its news section that the Rev. Jeremiah Wright once uttered the phrase “God damn America.” Wright’s comments were widely reported and widely discussed beginning with an ABC News report six months ago. Barack Obama even had to give a much-publicized speech because of those words, and others. But the newspaper of record has never seen fit to publish Wright’s quote in its news pages. Until today.
—Byron York, National Review Online, September 24th, 2008.
Congressional Republicans have stoked consumer fears and confusion with charges that the health care reform law is causing insurers to cancel existing policies and will force many people to pay substantially higher premiums next year for coverage they don’t want. That, they say, violates President Obama’s pledge that if you like the insurance you have, you can keep it.
Mr. Obama clearly misspoke when he said that. [On at least 36 separate occasions -- Ed]
—The New York Times, November 1st, 2013.
And now, to the present day:
The New York Times is starting to get a bit nervous about this health care law thing.Ginger Chapman and her husband, Doug, are sitting on the health care cliff.
The cheapest insurance plan they can find through the new federal marketplace in New Hampshire will cost their family of four about $1,000 a month, 12 percent of their annual income of around $100,000 and more than they have ever paid before.
Even more striking, for the Chapmans, is this fact: If they made just a few thousand dollars less a year — below $94,200 — their costs would be cut in half, because a family like theirs could qualify for federal subsidies.
So much so that they’re now gingerly starting to tell their readers what you and I already know: “While the act clearly[*] benefits those at the low end of the income scale — and rich people can continue to afford even the most generous plans — people like the Chapmans are caught in the uncomfortable middle: not poor enough for help, but not rich enough to be indifferent to cost.” I welcome this sudden decision by the New York Times to join us here in Reality Non-Unicorn, and hope that they enjoy their visit. Indeed, the Old Grey Lady is more than welcome to settle here permanently.
Back in 2004, Daniel Okrent, then the paper's ombudsman warned his readers, "Is The New York Times a Liberal Newspaper? Of course it is," but do who get their news solely from the Times have any idea how cocooned they are?
Building on the now infamous cri de coeur uttered by one of the Times' core readers when her health insurance cancellation notice arrived in the mail, Bill Kristol writes in the latest edition of the Weekly Standard that it's the job of the right to help end the sort of epistemic closure that the Times specializes in:
“We are the Obama people,” said Camille Sweeney, a New York writer and member of the Authors Guild. Her insurance is being canceled, and she is dismayed that neither her pediatrician nor her general practitioner appears to be on the exchange plans. What to do has become a hot topic on Facebook and at dinner parties frequented by her fellow writers and artists.
“I’m for it,” she said. “But what is the reality of it?”
Ms. Sweeney’s statement-and-question says it all. It’s the voice of liberalism in the age of Obama. She’s for Obamacare, but didn’t know what it was. Now, Ms. Sweeney realizes (sort of) that she’s been mugged by reality. But she’s not quite ready to come to grips with reality. She’s not quite ready to press charges against Obama, or against liberalism.
But at least she’s asking a reality-based question.
In 2014, it’s the job of conservatism, and of the Republican party, to answer Ms. Sweeney’s question. It’s the job of conservatives and Republicans to explain the reality of Obamacare—that it’s bad for health care, bad for jobs, and bad for freedom. It’s the job of conservatives and Republicans to offer escapes from Obamacare, to the extent possible (see the piece by Jeffrey H. Anderson and Spencer Cowan in this issue). It’s the job of conservatives and Republicans to set forth workable alternatives to Obamacare for the future, as Paul Ryan and others intend to do early in the new year.
And it’s the job of conservatives and Republicans to press charges. It’s their job to make the case against Obamacare on the broadest possible terms, as an example—as the example—of unintended-consequences-producing, rule-of-law-undermining, freedom-denying, big-government, liberal social-engineering. Obamacare embodies liberalism’s fatal conceit. It’s the job of conservatives and Republicans to make it liberalism’s fatal overreach.
So, to answer Ms. Sweeney’s question: The reality of it is that Obamacare is a disaster. And it’s a disaster because, as Margaret Thatcher put it, “The facts of life are conservative.”
But as we've mentioned before, Obamacare is the first time that many on the left have had their tightly-woven cocoon violated by reality. Between now and at least the end of 2016, it won't be the last. And they'll also have the "fun" of the incoming de Blasio administration to deal with as well...