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NYTimes Paints Rockwell Portrait of Opponents to Health Care Reform

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Dean Powers       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   5 comments

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The latest New York Times article fantasizing about the doom of health care reform starts like the prelude to a movie or the opening words of the Bible, which read: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth...and there was darkness over the surface of the deep."

Don't believe me?

Today's Times article, entitled "Calm, but Moved to Be Heard on Health Care," is previewed on the home webpage of the Times with: "In the health care discussion, the respectful questioners like Bob Collier -- those expressing discomfiting fears and legitimate concerns -- may have the most impact."

The teaser is accompanied by a picture of the healthy, prosperous-looking Bob Collier, sitting on his humble porch with his legs crossed and his head cocked to one side with a look of frustration on his face.

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"Discomfiting fears...legitimate concerns..." The writing has the tone of prophecy: the screaming matches of late obscure the real heroes and potential dynamic changers of the health care debate. They are quiet conservatives from the deep South who oppose health care reform.

Not only is the conclusion dubious, but the Times, in this case a reporter named Kevin Sack, is *opining* in a straight "news" article about what constitutes "legitimate concerns."

What are Bob Collier's "legitimate concerns?"

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"'This is about the future of our country as we know it,' Mr. Collier warned, 'and may mean the end of our country as we know it.'"

The end of our country as we know it? That doesn't sound like a "legitimate concern." That sounds like hysterical hyperbole. It sounds like the talking points of the insurance industry.

The Times even reports that Bob Collier and his wife "receive much of their information from Fox News, Rush Limbaugh's radio program and Matt Drudge's Web site."

Well then of course they have "discomfiting" fears. But this is vomit journalism. The New York Times ought to have an intellectual obligation to disclaim the lies and smears and distortions of the Right Wing noise machine.

Kevin Sack ought to have straightened these poor people out. Instead he followed Collier back to his home in Georgia (talk about a section of the country that is out-of-step with the rest of the country) to paint Collier as this emblematic man of the silent majority of Americans all around the country who oppose health care reform.

The article takes pains to paint Collier as the common man rising up from the pew in his church to say what he has never spoken, much like the man in Norman Rockwell's famous "Freedom of Speech" painting.

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Read this gushy, aw-shucks description of Collier's path from a quiet, humble family man to brave outspoken opponent of health care reform: "[Collier] skipped the antiwar protests of his college years, took a job as a regional salesman of paper and chemical products, and built for himself a quiet life of family and church (and hunting and fishing) in his rural hometown in southwest Georgia.

But on Thursday, Mr. Collier drove more than an hour down Route 19 to attend a health care forum in Albany, Ga., being held by his congressman, Representative Sanford D. Bishop Jr., a Democrat serving his ninth term.

To his wife's astonishment," (Oh dear, Bob, what are you doing? Remember, we're just quiet, humble hunters and fisherpeople?) "as the session drew into its third hour, Mr. Collier rose to take the microphone and firmly, but courteously, urged Mr. Bishop to oppose the health care legislation being written in Washington."

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Dean Powers lives in Castleton, VT. He has apprenticed at several newspapers including The Nation. He currently writes for OpEdNews. He can be found at

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