This, from the Washington Post’s media “critic,” Howard Kurtz:
For once, mainstream journalists did not retreat to the studied neutrality of quoting dueling antagonists.
They tried to perform last rites on the ludicrous claim about President Obama’s death panels, telling Sarah Palin, in effect, you’ve got to quit making things up.
But it didn’t matter. The story refused to die.
The crackling, often angry debate over health-care reform has severely tested the media’s ability to untangle a story of immense complexity. In many ways, news organizations have risen to the occasion; in others they have become agents of distortion. But even when they report the facts, they have had trouble influencing public opinion.
In the 10 days after Palin warned on Facebook of an America “in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel,’ ” The Washington Post mentioned the phrase 18 times, the New York Times 16 times, and network and cable news at least 154 times (many daytime news shows are not transcribed).
While there is legitimate debate about the legislation’s funding for voluntary end-of-life counseling sessions, the former Alaska governor’s claim that government panels would make euthanasia decisions was clearly debunked. Yet an NBC poll last week found that 45 percent of those surveyed believe the measure would allow the government to make decisions about cutting off care to the elderly — a figure that rose to 75 percent among Fox News viewers.
Hey, Howie, maybe that’s because Our President just can’t stop talking about cutting off care to the elderly. Take a pill instead of get a pacemaker, whatever. Here’s Obama back in April chatting with the New York Times about whether his late grandmother should have gotten a hip replacement after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer (the quotation is from my July 5 op-ed for the Los Angeles Times):
[Obama] said there ought to be a “conversation” over whether “sort of in the aggregate, society making those decisions to give my grandmother, or everybody else’s aging grandparents or parents, a hip replacement when they’re terminally ill is a sustainable model.”
Obama suggested that such decisions be made not by patients or their relatives but by a “group” of “doctors, scientists, ethicists” who are not part of “normal political channels.”
Obama brought up his grandmother’s hip replacement a second time in his June 24 town hall event on healthcare on ABC. The “question was,” Obama said, “does she get hip-replacement surgery, even though she was fragile enough they were not sure how long she would last?”
At that point I was thinking: If he says, “No hip replacement for you, Grams” one more time, it’s going to be a drinking game.
Now, Howie, you and Obama might call it a “group” of high-minded scientists and bioethicists unaccountable to the democratic process who will decide to whom the government will mete out medical care. Sarah Palin calls it a “death panel.” And you wonder why people believe Palin and not your pals at the Post and the New York Times who claiim to have “clearly debunked” Palin?
Ace of Spades HQ makes this additional point:
Before blasting Kurtz, allow me to congratulate and thank him for admitting that the media has taken sides in Palin v. Obama and that they aren’t even pretending to be neutral. At least he got the right….
Funny how Kurtz is glad that “journalists” have finally gotten into the fight when it comes to saving the failing Obama health plan and presidency.
Here’s a little free info for Mr. Kurtz…people simply don’t trust you guys anymore. There are too many sources of information and the party line doesn’t square with reality as many people know it.
How about hauling mainstream media dinosaurs before death panels? Oh, wait–that’s already happening..