Why the Health Care Confusion? Howard Kurtz Blames ... You.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Howard Kurtz's column in Monday's Washington Post is nothing less than an obituary for the mainstream media. He looks back at the last month of debate about health insurance reform and finds his colleagues have had little, if any, impact:
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.
But even as Kurtz delivers a mountain of evidence that the mainstream media has failed to do its job, you can his critiques are carefully constructed. While Kurtz will admit the results are horrific, he steadfastly refuses to admit anything is wrong with the mainstream media's processes:
Perhaps journalists are no more trusted than politicians these days, or many folks never saw the knockdown stories. But this was a stunning illustration of the traditional media's impotence.
In fact, the closer you read Kurtz's column, you realize he's excusing journalists from any blame in the death of the media. That's right, he has a different culprit for the public's confusion: You. You heard the man! The media's doing its best! Working hard! Nose to the grindstone:
For all the sound and fury, news organizations have labored to explain the intricacies of the competing blueprints. ... Those who say the media haven't dug into the details aren't looking very hard.
And yet you still can't figure out what's really in the bill! The media may give Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich and Charles Grassley hours of time to lie without being challenged. But of course, it's not the mainstream media's job to help you figure out what's actually true. You're supposed to be able to figure that out on your own!

If the public remains confused about the details of health insurance reform? That's not the media's problem. Blame yourself.