Backlash Against the Mainstream Media's Treatment of Medicare Reforms?
The mainstream media, often parroting the language and claims of Democrats, have been very unfair to Republicans and their proposals for Medicare reform. But that's just my view. And we conservatives often, perhaps usually, are making claims like that.
I am consequently very pleased to read an essay by Robert Samuelson, "Media Drips Poison in the Medicare Debate." Samuelson is no right-winger, although he is possibly the most conservative of all contributing editors at Newsweek. Still, the latter title is something like being "tall for a dwarf" or the "highest skyscraper in Wichita." In my judgement, Samuelson is a moderate, perhaps even a left-leaning moderate.
At least in his latest column, he has joined us conservatives in our disgust of the mainstream media. The following are a couple excerpts.
Vouchers are popular among Republicans, though some Democratic politicians and economists also support them. For example, a voucher proposal is a centerpiece of the budget plans offered by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., chairman of the House Budget Committee.
But many Democrats despise vouchers, which (they say) would "privatize Medicare" and "end Medicare." The language is self-serving demagoguery intended to terrify seniors. Unfortunately, some in the media sometimes sloppily adopt these attack phrases as acceptable descriptions.
Here's a Washington Post budget story calling Ryan's voucher plan a "proposal to privatize Medicare." Similarly, a Post columnist said a voucher-like proposal by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., would "end Medicare" and "abolish Medicare." The New York Times editorial pages often equate vouchers with privatizing Medicare.
These descriptions aren't acceptable, because they don't reflect reality. The fact that some voucher advocates also use "privatize" doesn't change matters. Consider.
Vouchers would not "end Medicare." Fundamentally, Medicare promises health care coverage to most Americans 65 and over. We call this an "entitlement." The entitlement wouldn't end. The federal government would still pay for coverage. In this basic sense, Medicare vouchers don't threaten the program.
My purpose here is not to favor one or the other. It's simply to assert that we in the mainstream media shouldn't distort the argument by the careless use of language.
Voucher proposals would "overhaul" Medicare, "transform" it or "convert" it. They wouldn't "end" or "privatize" it. Words matter. Let's keep the debate honest.