NYT: Anything in favor of single-payer medicare is not fit to print


From FAIR, a shocking (or not) admission from the editors of the Old Grey Harlot:

In response to FAIR’s September 22 action alert, New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt agreed (10/11/09) that the paper’s September 20 article about Medicare for all excluded supporters of a single-payer healthcare system.

FAIR pointed out that the article, written by Katharine Seelye, laid out many arguments against single-payer–it would mean a big tax increase, it would hurt doctors, and so on–without including balancing responses from supporters.

Links as in FAIR’s original.

Um, Ms Seelye…why couldn’t you come up to Canada and get the balancing argument here? For that matter, why not just give Michael Moore a call? Surely it wouldn’t cost that much to get on the horn to the guy who not only came here, but also to Cuba, to see how we and our Cuban friends do things, healthwise. I know he’s happy to talk to anyone who has questions for him! Could it be that his pro-single payer argument is a lot stronger than the anti-healthcare one?

Nahhhhh…not according to the NYT’s Clark Hoyt it isn’t…

Health care is a sprawling subject that is hard for a newspaper to get right. It involves economics, politics, and philosophical and moral values. There are complex delivery systems and hard-to-explain concepts, like how spending $829 billion over 10 years and adding 29 million people to health insurance rolls could save the government money in the long run. There are terms to keep straight — single payer vs. public option — lobbyists for special interests, and five separate comprehensive proposals under consideration in Congress, running to thousands of pages.

Why did I just get the image of a talking Barbie doll in my head, saying that math was so hard? Maybe because there was one:

Katharine Seelye, the reporter, said she was trying to explain why Medicare-for-all was not going anywhere and provided links online to arguments for it. “I thought the substance of it had been dealt with elsewhere many times,” she said.

Yeah, the “substance” comes courtesy of right-wing crapaganda sites. The same that organize the “tea parties” to make it look like the current mess that is US healthcare is actually popular with the grassroots. It isn’t.

If you want to know what the NYT won’t tell you, you might want to ask Canadians why we voted Tommy Douglas as our all-time Greatest Canadian. This ahead of a formidable prime minister–Pierre Trudeau, who patriated our Constitution and attached the Charter of Rights and Freedoms–and Terry Fox, who lost a leg to cancer and ran the Marathon of Hope cross-country to raise funds and awareness before the disease returned and took his life.

I can tell you why Tommy was, without a doubt, our greatest Canadian–he gave us single-payer healthcare! And he did it over all the counter-arguments from the right and from the insurance industry. He also did it, incidentally, while slashing a massive provincial deficit in Saskatchewan–run up by his more “fiscally conservative” predecessors, who were apparently utterly uninterested in providing public services and existed mainly to make sure that big businesses got favorable conditions in which to profiteer. Tommy Douglas was everything that Barack Obama probably wishes he himself were–a successful reformer on multiple fronts, capable of cutting the crap and winning respect by never selling out. Here’s how the CBC put it:

Amid widespread skepticism, Premier Douglas mobilized aggressively, passing more than 100 bills during his first term. He introduced paved roads, sewage systems and power to most farmers and managed to reduce the provincial debt by $20 million. Over the next 18 years he weathered [anti-]Communist fear campaigns and a province-wide doctors’ strike. Elected to five terms, he introduced Saskatchewan residents to car insurance, labour reforms and his long-standing dream of universal Medicare.

Medicare was so popular, in fact, that politicians of every stripe, across Canada, eventually adopted it. Every province and territory now has its own public health plan, and for that, we thank Tommy Douglas–who pushed it through over the wails and squalls of “free enterprise” types who tried (unsuccessfully) to convince ordinary Canadians that the sky was falling. Just like the teabaggers in the US are doing now.


That’s something you’ll NEVER see in the NYT! (Neither is the salient fact that doctors are, actually, NOT hurting up here, at least not financially–that is, if the number of luxury cars in the “Doctors Only” parking section at our local hospital is anything to go by.)

But hey! All is not lost. Here’s Clark Hoyt again:

But The Times had not seriously explored the issue during the current debate, and I thought FAIR had a point.

The public option, a government-run health plan that would compete with private insurers, favored by a majority in the Times/CBS News poll, has been covered extensively as a political story. But the substance has received less attention. Jill Abramson, the managing editor for news, said she wondered if the paper had done enough. “If people had understood it more, would the politics have turned out differently?” she said. “I don’t know, and I’m not saying this from a point of advocacy.” Editors need to keep asking: Do their judgments about what is realistic become self-fulfilling prophecies?

The answer, of course, is a screeching, resounding YES. By censoring an important part of the debate–just because it comes from a place outside and well to the left of the reporters’ and editors’ own biases–it becomes a self-fullfilling prophecy when the under-informed readers decide to knuckle under to whatever seems “centrist” enough for the Newspaper of Record, and adopt it as their own opinion. They will then vote, however half-heartedly, in that direction, ignoring the truly viable, but much more progressive option of single-payer medicine, which might cost them a bit more in taxes but would save them many times that in insurance costs.

In the end, unless hell is well and truly raised (by you, the reader!), things will never change in the US, except to become even more convoluted and bogged down. Over time, real social change and progress become less and less possible, even as the papers are screaming about how “things have gone too far” and “there was bound to be a backlash”. Or how third parties are only “spoilers” to the Big Two, who keep looking more and more alike as time goes on. (The fact that the centre of the field keeps shifting to the right is, of course, a thing never to be mentioned, even in a rare moment of honesty.)

But least Clark Hoyt admits that “FAIR had a point”. Even if he’s not willing to do a whole hell of a lot about it, other than briefly admit that and then let it slide.

And just think, if thousands of FAIR readers hadn’t written to the NYT and complained, they wouldn’t have gotten even that piddling admission out of them.

Still think that paper is liberal, conservatard boys and

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2 Responses to NYT: Anything in favor of single-payer medicare is not fit to print

  1. Slave Revolt says:

    The moral and ethical argument should have framed this from the start.
    This is tragic, really.
    Obama is too timid on this.

  2. Obama–and most of the Dems, and the media too. Shame on all of them.

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