So, Senior Citizens have all kinds of fears and reservations about supporting President Obama's push for meaningful, transformative health reform, eh? Huh???
Yes, that's certainly what the coalition of health insurers, drug companies, bought politicians, compromised media hacks, and brainwashed extremists standing together in opposition to real reform want us to believe.
But no, that's not nearly the whole, or the real story.
In fact, many, many millions of seniors support real health reform. But when they go show their support for the President's public option-based plan, like they did recently in Palm Beach County, Florida -- Palm Beach County, mind you, a symbolic epicenter of senior living, for crying out loud -- they do it with such class and composure that it doesn't make for juicy TV News coverage. No screaming or shoving or dislocated hips. Just concerned senior citizens anxious to hear the details of a reform effort most of them have believed necessary and actively supported for years.
That's supposedly Not News -- not mega-corporate owned, mainstream media news, that is.
The rationale, the "Journalism 101" cliche is, "Man Bites Dog", well that's a news story. So by that standard, how do you think a ratings-driven network affiliate or major cable news outlet News Director is going to classify footage of costumed, disruptive, misinformed, citizens at important public forums? Ooohhh, now that's News, that's Sam snapping at Spot's paws, Big Time.
The other way around -- retired working Americans from all corners and walks of life who have benefitted so deeply from Democratic-initiated, government-administered programs like Social Security and Medicare, now wanting to do anything they can to help extend those protections to other Americans? Well, sorry, that is just Not News, not to the powers that be. Too much time, effort and creativity required to make simple human drama, well, dramatic.
So the vast majority of good, compassionate people who only have or make the time to get most or all of their news from those giant media conglomerates, they only see... The News. Not the... Not News. So there's the maddening, self-perpetuating delusion of large-scale "opposition" to health reform, especially amongst Seniors. The snowball of a con job just keeps rolling down the slippery slope of misinformation, getting bigger and bigger. Coverage of recent poll numbers showing that 3 out of 4 Americans support health reform is now replaced by poll numbers showing only one in five Americans now feels that health reform "would help them".
Call it the Mainstream Media Divide. One can ony hope that President Obama has enough of The Right Stuff to look at those poll numbers not with an eye towards any degree of surrender or submission, but rather with great regret at his administration's failures in early, effective communication about how health reform will help seniors on Medicare, as it will all Americans -- and with renewed resolve that there still is time to be The Great Communicator, and to turn the tide in favor of the simple, collective, public good.
I do have reason for hope, based at least on anecdotal evidence. I have a suspicion, based on conversations with strangers -- particularly seniors -- in supermarkets and airports, at movie theatres and gas stations and train stations, and yes, maybe even at an Early Bird Special I wandered into by mistake the other early afternoon. I suspect that most Americans of all ages, outside of the anti-reform extremists trying so hard to make The News, are sick and tired already of "Warfare" as the central, ubiquitous metaphorical element used in coverage of this story.
It's simply a misrepresentation of fact, and it has also gotten very, very tired.
I really do think folks are fed up with the daytime tabloid TV approach to covering the health reform debate. I think people are ready to hear about what their fellow, concerned citizens, along with our President, and those of honor in Congress, are fighting for.
Now that Summer's over, one can only hope that seniors and all Americans are ready to reject the sideshow elements of coverage of this extraordinary national debate, ready to put the pressure on major network and cable TV outlets to cover more of the substance of the story, ready to look a little harder for and at the whole truth, and most of all, ready to attend to the serious business at hand.