Health care reform according to the Washington Post

Health care reform impossible, according to the Post

–I’ve said it before: ‘Smart people’ living in places like Massachusetts–those would be the ones who did not vote in the special election–have no idea what President Obama is up against in Washington.

Quick fact:

Over the previous year, the Washington Post has run 1,642 articles, columns or editorials mentioning health care reform or health insurance reform. From March 22, 2009, to today, writers working for the Washington Post Company, or guest writers or columnists, have published articles on the legislative effort to reform health care over 1600 times.

Of these articles, at a conservative estimate over 90 percent have been negative.

Actually, only 73 of these hits according to the LexisNexis database pertained to “health insurance reform.” Something about the proportion of 73 to 1,642 indicates how dangerous a topic ‘insurance reform’ is for the WashPost. Not that the Post has made that transparent through its reporting, you understand, but it is conspicuous by its omission.

Previously taboo topic: Health insurance reform

A quick run-through gives a representative sampling. Long-time WP columnist David Broder has authored 32 pieces on health care reform over the previous year, all casting doubt on the legislation itself or on its chances of passing, or both.

A typical example: June 7, 2009, in “Obama’s Biggest Battle,” Broder wrote,

“Obama will have to carry much of the burden of advocacy himself–if outside events don’t intrude, as they did on Bill Clinton. The president has shown his willingness to bargain, signaling, for example, that he would now consider taxing some employer-provided benefits, an approach he denounced when John McCain endorsed it during the campaign.
But it will take much more than that to win what promises to be an epic struggle.”

Another typical example from Broder, Mar. 1, 2010; “Obama, Dems at crossroads on health care reform”:

“Nobody really expected much from President Barack Obama’s health care summit, and those expectations were fully realized.”

Be it noted that the last time Broder employed the term “insurance reform” in a piece was 1994. That was an article about the Clinton administration, jointly authored with Ann Devroy, no longer at WP.

Then there is George F. Will, as in a Jan. 20, 2010, piece titled “Massachusetts mandate shoves liberals off the cliff”:

“If the Democrats” congressional leaders are determined to continue their kamikaze flight to incineration, they will ignore Massachusetts’ redundant evidence of public disgust. They will leaven their strategy of briberies with procedural cynicism—delaying certification of Massachusetts’ Senate choice, or misusing “reconciliation” to evade Senate rules, or forcing the House to swallow its last shred of pride in order to rush the Senate bill to the president’s desk. Surely any such trickery would be one brick over a load for some hitherto servile members of the Democratic House and Senate caucuses, giving them an excuse to halt their party’s Gadarene rush toward the precipice.”

Like Broder, Will does not mention ‘insurance reform’ in print, although he has done so on air at ABC Television’s This Week, formerly with George Stephanopoulos.

Over the past year, Will has run nine pieces mentioning health care reform—including one calling Obama a modern-day ‘Huey Long,’—all opposed.

Unsurprisingly, he and Broder are joined by WP columnist Robert Samuelson, with seven pieces mentioning health care reform over the previous year, all opposed; Samuelson actually mentioned “health insurance reform” once (July 27, 2009) but only in quoting from a speech by the president.

Needless to say, the WP also offers up the wisdom of ultra-rightwing neocon and PNAC signatory Charles Krauthammer, as in this July 24, 2009, piece titled “Why Obamacare is sinking”:

“What happened to Obamacare? Rhetoric met reality.”

Krauthammer has run 18 pieces opposing current health-care reform proposals over the past year. This passage comes from Aug. 7, 2009, “Health-care reform: A better plan”:

“The administration’s defense is to accuse critics of being for the status quo. Nonsense. Candidate John McCain and a host of other Republicans since have offered alternatives. Let me offer mine: Strip away current inefficiencies before remaking one-sixth of the U.S. economy. The plan is so simple it doesn’t even have the requisite three parts. Just two: radical tort reform and radically severing the link between health insurance and employment.”

‘Tort reform’ for Krauthammer means limiting plaintiffs’ ability to litigate. According to “Walter Scott’s Personality Parade,” in Parade Magazine, Krauthammer himself successfully sued a swimming pool manufacturer, after the swimming accident that sadly left the young Krauthammer injured.

For the past year, Krauthammer has been running columns with titles such as “Kill the bills: Do health-care reform right,” etc. Krauthammer has actually mentioned “insurance reform” four times, always to oppose the concept and to attack Obama.

There is no need to belabor the basic point here. For the past year, a time of extensive public discourse on health insurance reform, the Washington Post has mentioned “insurance reform” somewhat over 100 times in a crop of 1,600+ articles on health care. Most of those mentions occur either in the context of vote-counting, the politics horse race, in political reporting; or in hostile opinion columns by the right-wingers and corporatists above, joined by Michael Gerson, Fred Hiatt, and equally hostile guest columnists. As written previously, many of the horse-race pieces in the A section, purportedly objective and neutral, are actually spun to cast doubt on the legislation and on its chance of passing.

Note: None of the information contained in this post can be gleaned from today’s piece by Howard Kurtz, the Post’s ‘media critic,’ titled “Journalism’s slide into health-debate weariness.” Kurtz has not mentioned the Post’s opposition and hostility to insurance reforms.


[This article, deleted by the system among hundreds of articles and blog posts in summer 2011, is re-posted using archives and Word files.]

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