The news media remain the biggest losers in healthcare reform debates. For the most part, mainstream news sources have not provided much analysis of the actual content of healthcare reform.
Not surprisingly, polls continue to show that people disagree with healthcare reform -- until they actually hear what the legislation contains. In fact, a new poll shows that most people believe that, for Republicans and Democrats alike, reform is simply about political battles, rather than policy. The media must accept some responsibility for public ignorance.
Rather than focusing on the substance of reform, the media have instead reported the political dramas related to reform. This has undoubtedly shaped public opinion about the motivations of members of Congress. The public knows less about the merits of healthcare reform than it knows about the rantings of the Tea Party protesters, the conflict between moderate and liberal Democrats, the declining favorability ratings of Congress and the President, Sarah Palin's belief that Obama is a socialist, and Rush Limbaugh's promise to leave the country if reform passes. The media reporting resembles a dressed-up version of the Jerry Springer Show. Well, at least Springer does not pretend to have an interest in anything other than drama.
Today, the headlines show that the media are now focusing on whether the Republicans or the Democrats will lose more politically from healthcare reform. Numerous stories report the obvious fact that the issue could shape the November elections (yay -- more drama!). Other stories examine Nancy Pelosi's favorability ratings. Numerous articles report that states are going to sue over healthcare reform -- without even analyzing the merits of these lawsuits. The legal "battle" is all that matters. The focus of today's news stories reveal that the authors are in fact the biggest losers of all.