Now that the Democrats health care bill has finally been signed into law, will there be any meaningful consequences for those who lied about this historic legislation? Many of health care’s Republican opponents were attempting to persuade the American people that they should reject this law based on politically motivated distortions. Their many purposeful lies and slanderous mischaracterizations frequently manifested themselves as little more then politics by deception and appeals to fear! In one of the most glaring examples of their aversion to facts and intentional deceit, Republicans and their media acolytes routinely claimed that the Democratic health plan would ruin the “best health care system in the world”!
Unfortunately for the American people, the current health care system is only considered the best health care system in the world by those people who don’t equally value all Americans http://www.examiner.com/x-21075-Baltimore-Liberal-Examiner~y2009m10d11-USA-USA-Oylmpic-edition, by those who don’t consider how health outcomes in America compare to those obtained by the rest of the industrialized world (which all provide universal health care) and by those who ignore how much Americans pay for those outcomes! While there is no doubt that America is home to the best doctors, medical institutions and technology, 47 million Americans don’t have access to healthcare (45,000 die annually as a result)! As if that wasn’t a sufficiently compelling indictment of the system, Americans pay nearly double what most of the world pays for their health care (on a per capita basis) and Americans have poorer health care outcomes http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/19/opinion/19krugman.html?ref=opinion!
The aforementioned facts notwithstanding, Republicans and other opponents of “Obamacare” (as they call it) are provided wide latitude by their enabling poodles in the broadcast media to make their self serving and factually challenged claims. The motive for health care’s political opponents to make these bogus claims is transparently corrupt and politically partisan. Similarly, the equally transparent motive for the broadcast media to enable and amplify these outlandish claims is created by the financial benefits they receive from the health care and pharmaceutical industries http://www.examiner.com/x-21075-Baltimore-Liberal-Examiner~y2010m2d3-A-Pox-on-Both-their-Houses! Our highly compensated media super stars (the blabberatti) who host America’s most influential news programs aren’t concerned with anything except increasing their shows ratings and collecting their fat pay checks (and kick backs)! As a result, they enable politicians to engage in provocative chatter and salacious (and baseless) accusations as a way to fan the flames of partisan conflict. Network news executives know that this will entices viewers to watch their programs in much the same way fist fights entice viewers to watch Hockey games and horrific accidents attract viewers to Auto Racing! Thus, the broadcast media’s desire to attract viewers and the advertising dollars that follow them supersedes their interest in providing useful information to their viewers!
That being said, shouldn’t the Democrats, non-partisan institutions of our government (the FCC), or the more responsible and diverse print media push back against this madness? When one considers how outrageously unfounded some of these accusations about the new law have been and how these unprincipled and intentionally misleading critiques have been transmitted via the public’s airwaves without even a pretense of fact checking, shouldn’t there be some public or private institution willing to hold these political fear mongers and their media enablers accountable?
Several months ago, Republican Senator Chuck Grassley intentionally terrorized his supporters by telling them that he wouldn’t support the bill because it would somehow result in granny being killed by the Death Panels! This fable was repeated all over cable and broad cast news programs as distracted and disinterested “journalist” pretended not to notice the baseless-ness of this absurd slander! In a rational world, one might think that the people who host these “news” programs would expect, if not demand, that their guest demonstrate some measure of respect for their audiences and refrain from purposefully spreading such salacious and terrifying lies http://www.examiner.com/x-21075-Baltimore-Liberal-Examiner~y2010m3d22-Just-Say-Anything-Sunday-Talk-Show-Edition . Unfortunately, ours is not a rational world! There are no death panels in the new health care law and those who said that there were knew that those allegations were false when they made them! They were simply trying to frighten the public into supporting their political position! This is the definition of terrorism! As a direct penalty for spreading this intentional falsehood, shouldn’t these shameless fear merchants be banned from appearing on the public’s airwaves and be exposed as the lying terrorist that they are?
Much to the consternation of Congressional Republicans, news programs, unlike Hockey games or auto races, are not intended to provide entertainment. The primary purpose of news programs is to inform viewers about what’s actually happening (you know, the news). If an informed public is essential for the proper functioning of a Democracy and the rampant spreading of disinformation damages the democratic process, shouldn’t there be some penalty for people (except Jon Stewart) who purposely engage in the dissemination of disinformation (fake news)?
This is not to suggest that the grand mother killing/Death Panels farce was the only intentionally misleading statement that opponents of health care engaged in, but it’s the only one for which there doesn’t even exist the wiggle room of plausible deniability! That slippery term has come to define the rhetorical default position of today’s Republican Party! An opponent of health care who has characterized the policy as a big government take over can plausibly argue that new government regulations are the big government take over of which they were complaining. Of course, this isn’t what they intended when they made this claim, but since the law contains no government insurance plan (public option); all they are left with is an attack on the regulations the government will impose on insurers. Complicating things for the GOP, the government regulations (i.e. banning pre-existing conditions) that have caused them to become so unhinged and irrational are popular with the American people. So, rather then joining their brethren in the “Death Panel” brazen liars club, their barely plausible explanations for many of their misleading “half truths” leaves them opposing something that the public overwhelmingly supports! Not even Frank Luntz http://www.examiner.com/x-21075-Baltimore-Liberal-Examiner~y2010m2d13-The-GOPs-Treasonous-Wordsmith can help them out of this one!