Jun
09
2009

WaPo Slams Single-Payer

Advocates of a single-payer health plan in the United States aren't exactly accustomed to seeing their efforts covered in the corporate media–or in the headline of a major newspaper story, no less. The Washington Post reminded us on June 6 what happens when media finally get around to taking a look at the issue.

Under the headline " 'Single-Payer' Supporters Challenge Democrats," reporter Dan Eggen deployed typically dismissive language in describing single-payer activists–writing that they had "struck again," referencing the "increasingly noisy" protesters who are "hounding" lawmakers. All this is part of an "offensive" that will "swamp" some apparently well-intentioned pro-White House house parties.

The real point is laid out pretty clearly:

The movement poses both an opportunity and a challenge for Obama, who is able to position himself as a centrist by opposing a single-payer plan but who risks angering a vocal part of the Democratic base.

In the strange world of corporate journalism, one can prove his/her "centrist" credentials by opposing a policy that has majority support from the public.

Eggen doesn't totally omit any reference to polling on single-payer; in fact, he reported that such polling "varies widely." But instead of giving some examples of this supposed variation, readers were treated to only one actual citation–a Kaiser Family Foundation poll that listed eight different options for expanding healthcare. (Single-payer finished last.) Eggen did explain that the polling on single-payer differs "based largely on how the issue is framed." Why, then, would you choose a rather unrepresentative example of such polling, when straight-forward poll questions are easy to come by? It's hard to say why, but it certainly fits with the media's well-established pattern of trying to hide the public's support of single-payer from the, well, public.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.